Below is my column in The Hill on the increasingly widespread rationalization that looting and property damage have been a longstanding tradition, first by the Sons of Liberty in the Boston Tea Party. This historical analogy was very popular in the days before July 4th. A professor made the comparison over CNN on the fourth. The view is widespread in universities, as the column in the University of Arizona's Daily Wildcat newspaper states, “The Boston Tea Party was when we first saw looting as a form of protest in America. White people who act angrily are literally celebrated in our history books. "Also at the University of Dayton last week, a column said," There's something to say if our white founders who destroy British property at the Boston Tea Party are glorified in every textbook, but a goal for them Burning African American Rights Simply breathing is damned in the media. "
It is a revisionist historical argument that is as convenient as it is false. While the Framers had supported the vast majority of demonstrators who had conducted peaceful demonstrations for reform and racial equality, the Sons of Liberty were the first to denounce the concept of wantonly destroying or looting property as a means of social change.
Here is the column:
As the country celebrates Independence Day, many of us will see monuments that have been toppled, blurred, or buried in protective fences. Companies across the country have been devastated or boarded up, creating a surreal landscape for many on this vacation.
Most of the demonstrators have not been involved in riots or looting. The only thing that's crazier than accidental destruction is an increasingly widespread media rationalization that today's rioters are the new Boston Tea Party patriots who continue a long tradition of property damage as a form of political speech. These rioters have as much in common with the Boston Tea Party as the Antifa movement with the anti-federalists.
Rationalization is not new. After violence and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the leading figure in Black Lives Matter, DeRay McKesson, was hired by Yale University to give a lecture on “Transformative Leadership”. McKesson's lecture included reading about how looting is a "just tactic" and he defended property damage as a tradition dating back to the Boston Tea Party. Many media have raised the analogy, including CNN's Don Lemon, who recently punished anyone who "judged" the looting and riots because "our country was founded because – so – the Boston Tea Party." Riots … this is how this country started. "
Even some scientists have given these crimes the impression of history or patriotism. Northwestern University journalism professor Steven W. Thrasher wrote in Slate: "The destruction of property for social change is as American as the Boston Tea Party."
These and other statements misrepresent history. Consider only five blatant conflicts:
The Tea Party "Sons of Liberty" have not committed "destruction of property for social change".
It is certainly true that the sons of freedom destroyed property, but they didn't do it for social change and some probably didn't do it for political change. The embrace of the sons of freedom as a role model by the left is as strange as it is false. They were the ultimate capitalist movement. Some of these men were tea traders or tea smugglers who were annoyed by the sale of large quantities of tea by the English East India Company under the Tea Act. Indeed, one would think that today's activists would be least likely to embrace a group of militant capitalists involved in the most famous act of cultural appropriation in history.
The sons – dressed as Mohawk Indians – wanted to destroy the tea themselves. The taxation of tea was not, as is generally believed, the trigger of this confrontation; Tea, along with other items, has been taxed under the Townshend Revenue Act since 1767. In 1770, these taxes were lifted – with the exception of tea – to enable East India Co. to sell 544,000 excess pounds in the warehouse by undercutting the colonial market.
The "tea party" was more like supporters of steel from the United States pouring Mexican steel into the port of Houston. The alignment of the tea had both an economic and a political purpose. No one supported the concept of generally destroying property in order to change society.
The sons of freedom were not looters
Another problem with today's rationalizations is that the sons of freedom were not looters in the common sense of the term. More importantly, these actions are obviously different from those we've seen across the country. They didn't take the tea home. Conversely, today's looters who carried flat screen TVs from Target stores were not desperately looking for a port to throw away cursed symbols of Sony tyranny. They stole TV sets. While scientists like Clifford Stott, a professor of social psychology at Keele University, can assure CNN that "looting is an expression of power," it's primarily a crime for personal gain.
The Sons of Liberty did not advocate the deliberate destruction of property
In fact, they would have been the first to condemn today's destruction. We know that because they said it. Before boarding three tea ships, the sons agreed that they would do no harm except destroy the tea. (The ships actually belonged to Americans). Samuel Adams, one of the leaders, insisted that the sons carry out their mission "without the slightest injury to the ships or other property". After the sons broke a padlock to gain access to a ship's hold, they returned the next day to replace it.
This is in stark contrast to Hawk Newsome's defense of the use of violence by the President of Black Lives Matter in the greater New York area, "because this country is built on violence. What was the American Revolution, what is our diplomacy around the world? "He added:" If this country doesn't give us what we want, we'll burn this system down and replace it. Good? "The Sons of Freedom would say that this is not right, as they did in 1773.
The sons of freedom have not started the revolution or received broad support
There is a common misconception that the Sons of Liberty have been widely praised for their actions and have caused the nation to rebel against the British crown. Many patriots, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, condemned their act. It was the Crown's persistent reaction to these and other acts that fueled the call for independence.
Indeed, if the British government hadn't taken stupid repression measures, the Boston Tea Party could have worked to their advantage with many Americans who wanted to reconcile with England, including many of our Framers.
The sons of freedom lacked freedom
These were the "sons of freedom", not the "sons of anarchy". The biggest difference is that the sons, apart from economic interests, wanted freedom and representation. We now have a constitution that offers self-determination and the rights that have been denied them. Despite the legal and legislative reform options, looting, arson and vandalism are committed today. Indeed, a number of reforms were proposed shortly after George Floyd's murder. These crimes have made reforms more difficult and less likely.
As a nation, we have fought against the crown to free ourselves from arbitrary acts and injuries – not to enable those of our own citizens to do so. Samuel Adams said: “Among the colonists' natural rights are: first, a right to life, second, freedom, and third, property, along with the right to defend them as best as possible. “In other words, he wouldn't have been in the crowd that would have broken a car parts shop window. He and his countrymen would rather be the men in New England Patriots jerseys standing in front of the Boston store and protecting it.
The vast majority of the demonstrators were peaceful. They have forced us all to think about racial inequalities and personal prejudices. However, the destruction of property and monuments is exactly the kind of arbitrariness that patriots condemned. There are many contemporary causes of violence and anger; They're worth a discussion – but skip the Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party.