For a lot of people abroad who were following the events of last week in the
Caption: "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor", an 1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier.
The ones who know precisely how important that “party” was, however, are the guys in the Republican Party’s dirty-tricks think tank who organized and promoted it. And don’t give me that bull about how it was a spontaneous outpouring of American anti-tax and anti-liberal sentiment, because I’m not buying it. You don’t get the kind of press this protest got – especially on “fair and balance” Fox news (come on, Murdock, gimme a break!) – if it’s a spontaneous grassroots thing, especially not when it all ostensibly came together “overnight”. And particularly not when they bring out the big guns in prime time to rally ‘round the cause.
Fox and (Dubya’s) Friends.
Take “registered independent” (as he reminds us, ad pukeum) Fox News star Bill O’Reilly, who “doth protest too much” when anyone accuses him of being a conservative lackey, but who, if he doesn’t already have a GOP elephant tattooed on his chest, should really get one, because he clearly got hit in butt with the White House door when ex-President Bush left office and is ticked off about it. Yes, Bill, we can tell. If not, his night-time “news” commentary show, The O’Reilly Factor, wouldn’t keep on defending the Bush Administration tooth and nail every evening, when it’s so obviously a new day in
And then there’s Sean Hannity who follows O’Reilly each night with practically the same format as his – bash everyone left of Adolph Hitler – but in this case, with no apologies for being a frothing-at-the-mouth far-right mad dog. Even the Fox News management seems to have thought that Hannity was too right to be “right” and for 12 years created a parody of fairness by running him alongside “Fox liberal” (and I use the term advisedly) Alan Colmes. Colmes’ job was basically to lose every argument and let Hannity bully and dump on him every night, but still, there was a limit to just how insanely far-right Hannity could get without someone saying, “Hey, wait a minute, Sean, get a grip!”
But even the almost comatosely mild Alan Colmes apparently decided a dozen seasons of playing the “straw man” to Sean Hannity’s ruthless attacks was more than enough and this year left the show, according to him, “to make a greater contribution” to the network. If his personal blog, Alan Colmes’ Liberaland, is anything to go by, Alan’s “greater contribution” isn’t going to scare Hannity in the ratings. Topping yesterday’s items was this lead, and I quote:
“Edgar Mitchell, who flew on the 1971 Apollo 14 mission to the moon, says there is extraterrestrial life, and that it’s being concealed by the United States government, among others.”
The story’s legitimate enough, though not original – it has already been on other TV channels as a human interest feature – but is just the sort of thing that promises to keep Colmes’ “contribution” as zanily “liberal” as possible and keep him or anybody else from undermining the apparent intention of Fox News to destabilize and, if possible, destroy the current administration of the United States.
An exaggeration? Suffice it to say that after cheerleading for the “tea parties” for days on end, Sean Hannity last night interviewed former Vice President Richard Cheney and the clear theme of his questioning was “just how dangerous is Barack Obama to the security of the
But, okay, let’s all pretend we don’t know who’s behind the “tea parties” – like many tried to pretend they didn’t know Nixon was behind the Watergate break-in scandal that ended up costing him his presidency – and just agree that whoever organized them, their purpose was to send out a message of rebellion, with a pseudo-patriotic bent.
The Original Festivities.
The original Boston Tea Party took place in 1773, three years before the 13 original New England colonies declared their independence from
To add insult to injury, the colonists could buy their tea much more cheaply from Dutch traders, for instance, but the
The colonists of
And they were not alone in their protests. By the time of the uprising in
Hutchinson was obviously out of touch with the depth of sentiment among the colonists he governed regarding actions taken by a Parliament on the other side of the ocean in which they had no direct representation and it was his stubborn refusal to listen to reason that led to the direct action taken by a group of what today would probably be called “terrorists” and “leftwing loons” – especially by “conservatives” of the ilk of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and former Speaker of the House Gingrich.
Details of this action, as I say, are sketchy but it seems that somewhere between 30 and 130 men (…um, what shall we call them? Militant activists? Far-left extremists? Freedom fighters? Enemy terrorists? Far-left loons? Patriots? Pinheads? You call it, O’Reilly…), some disguised as Indians to avoid identification, climbed aboard the ships under cover of night, broke open the crates on board and dumped the taxed tea into the waters of the
British demands that the rebel colony pay for the damages were rejected, resulting in a British embargo on trade with
Tea Parties Today.
So what does this have to do with last week’s “tea parties” organized and orchestrated across the
What every schoolchild recalls about the Boston Tea Party is that it was about “taxation without representation”. But what no one knows without in-depth study of the event, is that the accent was on representation. The tax was no more than a symbol of imperial tyranny. What the colonists were seeking by refusing to pay the Townshend tax was self-determination and what the British crown was seeking by insisting on imposing it was authoritarian control over its American subjects. The protests of last week that shamelessly sought to link the Obama Administration’s policies to this historical event were about perceived high taxes. That was never the issue in the Boston Tea Party. In fact, with the passage of the Tea Act, certain taxes were repealed and the price of tea in the colonies went down to such a degree that it became competitive with smuggled Dutch tea. The Townshend tax on the colonists was only 3%. So the protest and direct action were not because of taxation as such, but because of the principle involved. What the colonists rejected was
Last week’s protest has nothing to do with anything except the GOP’s whining about losing the election last November and being so soundly trounced by Barack Obama. Typically, rather than seeking to cooperate and help find a consensual solution to a grave crisis that is affecting the nation, the ultra-conservative political machine is busy seeking ways of taking advantage of the situation in order to undermine the authority of the Democratic Administration and further deepen the perception of crisis and chaos, with the aim of weakening the president’s position at every turn and ensuring that he will be replaced by a Republican at the end of his four years. It is an attitude that is unworthy and unpatriotic, but, unfortunately, not unexpected in a group of self-interested, far-right radicals who refuse to admit that the problem, like the bailout itself, started with them and that it is now President Obama’s job to try and fix the overwhelming mess they left behind.