Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Tea Partiers' Historical Fictions

I found this article at, it puts into perspective the historical differnce between todays "Tea Party" movement and what the "Sons of Liberty" patriots of 1773 were trying to accomplish when they throw 90,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor:

By Jada Thacker-

Like all “good Americans,” today’s Tea Partiers believe the destruction of the tea was a patriotic act in noble defiance of an unfair tax by a tyrannical government. This, however, is not exactly true, nor was that act of protest much of a precedent for today’s political disruptions.

Beyond the fact that both Tea Parties – then and now – were organized as hell-raising events, this is where the similarity ends.

Current Tea Partiers protest government, which they swear by-God threatens the existence of the private enterprise system they hold dear. The Tea Partiers of old, on the other hand, were not protesting an existential threat to private enterprise so much as an economic threat posed by one.

It was not government tea they threw overboard, after all. It happened to belong to a private enterprise known as the British East India Company.

The Tea Act imposed by the English parliament in 1773 did not make tea less affordable, nor did it even raise a new tax. It merely extended a three-penny tea duty, imposed six years previously as part of the Townshend Duties.

When these taxes, excepting that on tea, were repealed, colonists continued to boycott English tea, buying smuggled Dutch tea instead. What the Tea Act did do, however, was to endow the East India Company with a legal monopoly on the colonial tea trade.

By allowing the East India Company to bypass English middlemen, its tea, even with the three-penny tax, would now be cheaper than the Dutch tea, and it would be legal. By some accounts, it even tasted better.

The colonists were not being forced to buy English tea. Indeed, they had been boycotting it for years. And certainly it would be a stretch to claim that an unsold heap of tea posed a threat to anybody’s liberty.

Why then would anyone risk destroying the valuable cargo of a politically well-connected business entity? Was this a manifestation of political idealism? Or was it actually a preemptive economic strike against a private enterprise – a transnational corporation, in fact – that had the audacity to try to make a buck at the expense of American smugglers?

This is hardly textbook-heroic stuff.

Maybe that is why the term “Boston Tea Party” did not enter the American lexicon until 1834 – three generations after the act of vandalism it was invented to glorify.

Now, nine generations having passed since the festive “Tea Party” label was invented, modern Americans can safely imagine – without a single good reason to do so – that the destruction of the tea was somehow patriotic.

This is the fictive legacy that today’s Tea Partiers rush to embrace, while failing utterly to grasp the significance of what happened that winter night in Boston Harbor.

By passing the Tea Act, the English government was not attempting “to socialize” the British Empire “with tax and regulatory policies,” which, Tea Partiers now insist, is the ulterior motive behind the actions of the Obama administration toward the U.S. economy.

On the contrary, parliament essentially was acting as an agent on the behalf of a privately-owned corporation by endowing it with a trade monopoly in disregard of the interests of its American subjects. Certainly the obvious analogy cannot be hard to draw in these days of taxpayer-funded bailouts of privately-owned corporations.

But by clamoring that “government is the problem,” Tea Partiers remain deaf to the crucial message that government is only a mechanism that can be put to use by those who control it.....

...To this, the modern Tea Party-goer replies: “Government is the problem.” And they wave their “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, depicting their own government as their oppressor, not a foreign empire and its mercantile entities, like the East India Company.

They demand that the American people re-embrace the Republic of the sacred Founders – having forgotten that the original Republic embraced chattel slavery, indentured servitude, debtor prisons, and the disenfranchisement of the majority of the population.

They insist Americans peruse the Federalist Papers that parsed out the intent of our constitutionally-limited government – having forgotten it was the Federalist Party of Washington, Hamilton and Adams that not only objected to the Bill of Rights, but passed the first law in United States history making free speech illegal.

They fancy themselves as tax protesters in the tradition of the Patriot Fathers – having forgotten it was the “Father of Our Country,” George Washington, who not only signed the first unfair tax bill into law, but who personally rode at the head of an armed multitude bent on hanging any and all Americans who dared protest paying whatever tax their new “limited government” demanded.

Today’s Tea Partiers may flatter themselves as constituting the last of the true-blue patriots, protectors of Natural Law, defenders of the Faith, lovers of Liberty, and the last best hope of man on Earth. But they are not. And neither were the guys who dumped the tea into Boston Harbor.

The Tea Party-goers are instead perverse and pathetic caricatures of King Lud. Having no stocking frames to wreck, these American Luddites are tilting at government windmills, as if mindlessly vandalizing the mechanisms of power would stop the wind from blowing.

You can read the full article >>>Here

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