Monday, April 19, 2010

What are the intentions of today’s Tea Party supporters?


“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for thy house will consume me’” John 2:13-17

What are the intentions of today’s Tea Party supporters? Are they willing, if necessary, to go to the same lengths that the participants in the original Boston Tea Party (and Christ) went to: the violent destruction of property?

Many of the Tea Party movement’s “leaders” and supporters are going out of their way to say that the movement eschews violence, how then can the modern day Tea Party movement possibly lay a legitimate claim to the name “Tea Party” when the whole point of the original Boston Tea Party, in 1773, was to participate in a violent act of (very costly) property destruction?

At the Boston Tea Party, “A number of brave & resolute men, determined to do all in their power to save their country from the ruin which their enemies had plotted, in less than four hours, emptied every chest of tea on board the three ships commanded by the captains Hall, Bruce, and Coffin, amounting to 342 chests, into the sea!! without the least damage done to the ships or any other property” Dec. 20, 1773 issue of the Boston Gazette.

In fact, the morning after the Boston Tea Party, its participants “discovered that very considerable quantities of it were floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of its being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed them into those parts of the harbor wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles so thoroughly drenched it as to render its entire destruction inevitable” George Hewes, Boston Tea Party participant.

There have been times in the history of America when such actions were deemed necessary, and there may again be such times in the near future. Are the members of the modern day Tea Party prepared to go to such lengths, if necessary, or is this group made up of mostly faux (phony) patriots?

Personally, if the situation is dire enough, I have no problem with careful, controlled (i.e., direct) methods of destroying property in order to make a political point, but I eschew the less controlled (i.e., indirect) and much more dangerous methods of property destruction, which could cause grievous bodily harm (i.e., the loss of life or limb) to innocent persons (e.g., bombs, fires).

During the Boston Tea Party, the tea was destroyed “. . . without the least damage done to the ships or any other property.”

Christ did something very similar when he overturned the tables of the money-changers in the temple at Jerusalem, and yet he remained sinless.

Think about that.

The participants of the original Tea Party were in fact very careful to respect lives and property while at the same timedestroying one, carefully chosen kind of property: the tea . . .

“A group of up to sixty revolutionaries disguised as Mohawks stormed Griffin's Wharf in Boston. They announced their intention to unload the ships into the harbor, and enlisted the cooperation of the ship’s crew. This was no riot or act of terror, the party attempted to prevent damage to the ships. They even replaced a padlock they had to break to get access to cargo. Over the next two hours, they would unload 90,000 pounds of tea [in today’s money, over $1,000,000 worth] into the ocean and set in to motion the events of America's revolution” Mass.gov

Herein lies a problem, today this sort of act would certainly be classified an act of domestic terrorism:

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as ‘the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives’” Office of Justice Programs (DOJ).

Personally, I abhor acts of violence that destroy or injure the lives of innocent people, especially those acts we commonly associate with acts of terrorism or political violence. In fact, the U. S. criminal code defines terrorism in exactly such a way, unlike the FBI, by specifically eliminating any mention of terrorism as including violence against, or the destruction of, property:

“Title 22 of the U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) (U.S. Department of State, 2007) defines terrorism as ‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience’” Office of Justice Programs (DOJ).

Unfortunately, most researchers and law enforcement agencies focus on the methods rather than the motives of terrorists; thereby defaulting to the FBI’s definition of terrorism which, you will recall, includes property destruction:

“Both definitions of terrorism share a common theme: the use of force intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal. In most cases, NIJ researchers adopt the FBI definition, which stresses methods over motivations and is generally accepted by law enforcement communities” Office of Justice Programs(USDOJ).

By today’s standards, the participants in the Boston Tea Party were terrorists.

So I’m back, now, to my original question: “What are the intentions of today’s Tea Party supporters? Are they willing, if necessary, to go to the same lengths that the participants in the original Boston Tea Party went to: careful, controlled, and direct-action methods of property destruction in order to influence, politically, the population and the government?”

If they are not, then I would say they are faux (phony) patriots; if they are, then I would say they can expect the federal government authorities to label them: “terrorists”.

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