Monday, April 5, 2010

An excellent essay on the modern "Tea Party"

From Post Tenebras Lux:

One of the things I’ve been meaning to write about ever since the explosion onto the national political scene of the “tea parties” (Dawn of the Teabaggers, I sometimes refer to it) is the nature of the actual, original Boston Tea Party. As you might expect, the teabaggers of today have the spirit of the the original nearly completely wrong, just like they’ve mistaken the spirit or intent of just about everything from fascism to some of their own founding/funding groups.

A lot has been written about the tea parties’ actual roots in corporate-funded, fake grassroots lobbying firms like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, and about their ideological and tactical kinship with earlier right-wing groups like the John Birch Society (which helped sponsor the teaparty-heavy CPAC conference this year). But until now, not much has been written about their professed origins or intentional kinship with their namesake, the people/movement to which they believe themselves to be most akin, the Boston Tea Party.

Or at least, so I thought. Anyone who’s studied the history of the Boston Tea Party understands that the intent of the colonists who dressed up as “Mohawks” and dumped some 90,000 pounds of British East India Company tea into Boston harbor weren’t merely doing so, as is often portrayed in thumbnail histories of the event (such as the famous one in Schoolhouse Rock) as a rebellion against the English government’s taxation without representation. That played a part in the event, to be sure, but it was a much smaller part than is often thought to be the case. And the other, much-larger motive changes the whole character of not only the event itself, but the people – many of them our founders themselves – who took part in it. It also stands on its ear the entire raison d’etre of today’s teabaggers, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.

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