Not many people are aware that December 16th is a day to be celebrated as Boston Tea Party Day. It’s the day that American insurgents called The Sons of Liberty, fed up with the burden of egregious taxes and demands on their livelihood, lashed out against their own government (colonialists were indeed British subjects) one evening — dumping the tea cargo from the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver into the Boston harbor while disguising themselves as indian natives.
According to the Patriot Act, terrorism is defined as having any of the following:
- threatening, conspiring or attempting to hijack airplanes, boats, buses or other vehicles.
- threatening, conspiring or attempting to commit acts of violence on any “protected” persons, such as government officials
- any crime committed with “the use of any weapon or dangerous device,” when the intent of the crime is determined to be the endangerment of public safety or substantial property damage rather than for “mere personal monetary gain”
Our band of misfits — who called themselves the Sons of Liberty — easily captured all three criteria. They hijacked boats, committed acts of violence (tar and feathering) against tax collectors (de facto government officials) and willfully destroyed property, often burning down buildings and destroying the properties of British loyalists. By today’s metrics, these were dangerous terrorists who hated freedom.
In this context of hyper-vigilance, it’s no wonder that there’s no national holiday to celebrate their crowning achievement in rebellion that wintry eve in Boston. Banks are open, the congressional calendar is void of any recognition of the day, and people are expected to show up to work, not parades.
But today, we again face similar grievances with our government. Federal taxes and regulations blanket the nation, stifling innovation and creativity in the cradle. With international corporations (that eerily resemble the British East India Company) nestled deep in the government process — lobbying for laws that benefit their coffers at the expense of small competitors and consumer alike — it’s only natural that we ask: where are our Son’s of Liberty?
Nay, we are not in need of another national holiday to memorialize their triumph, or a statue in the center of Washington, DC celebrating the dumping of tea. We are in need of their spirit and soul, and those who are willing to materialize it once again against an increasingly tyrannous government.
Sadly, any talk of such hopes is itself a likely candidate for another provision of the Patriot Act: material support. According to the About.com page, “if you openly represent or seek community support for terrorist acts or a known terrorist organization, you could be declared a terrorist. In writing this article and saluting our rebellious ancestors, I am very likely breaking the law.” So be it.
The fact is, our generation is adverse to personal risk and messy confrontation when it comes to standing up to the government, and we’d rather go through the motions with protests in the street — holding up signs and yelling slogans that denounce the behemoth our government has grown into — than to confront our government in an act of defiance. Simply put, we are cowards, and something needs to be done.
But what can be done? After all, when colonial insurgents rose up against the British forces, it took months for King George to respond by sending troops to quell the insurrection. In today’s technologically advanced world, it would be ludicrous for a ragtag group to form a firing line with rifles and wait for a SWAT team to send them to their deaths with automatic machine guns. In fact, even in colonial times this was a ridiculous notion, as witnessed by the Boston Massacre and the sound defeat at Lexington. Our roots are in guerilla warfare and shady fighting tactics.
Any rebellion today would also be guerilla in nature and accurately labeled terrorism; although in reality it wouldn’t need to involve mass death or wanton destruction. In fact, it could be entirely bloodless.
The target of rebellious aggression is still clearly the town tax collectors (Internal Revenue Service), and a small group could easily afflict massive damage simply by bombing or burning down a few IRS buildings. But that’s a disregard for innocent bystanders and the uninvolved, and such destruction is unpopular in today’s society.
As I mentioned before, our generation is adverse to messy confrontation. A more logical approach would be electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) devices, or a HERF/HPM gun (high-energy radio frequency). While you’re unlikely to find such a device at your local Home Depot, a home-made EMP device with a range of a few hundred feet could render electronic devices (read: computers, watches, pacemakers) useless by overloading their circuitry, while remaining completely harmless to humans (unless they have a pacemaker, of course). An electrical engineer could construct one out of a microwave oven for less than a thousand dollars.
If a group today used such a device, specifically against the IRS and with a clear publicity response, there would likely be applause from the silent majority, yet the government itself would not simply fade away without revenue. Indeed, it would likely trigger retaliation in the form of martial law. But with the ability to level the playing field while removing the specter of destruction against a government many have come to distrust and loathe, modern day rebels would gain valuable public approval. But this is all conjecture and posturing, simply put: this generation is cowardly and won’t consider taking a stand in any fashion until it’s too late.
Now that I’m fully into the realm of “saying too much,” I think it’s important to note that we once regarded such conversation and speculation as patriotic and cheered revolutionary rhetoric. Our founding fathers actively encouraged us to always be a little bit rebellious against our government, just to keep them honest. But as time marches on, it seems we’ve forgotten just why we’re a nation that drinks coffee, and not tea, and we’re slowly forgetting our roots in terrorism and our appreciation of what it means.
So, Happy Boston Tea Party Day (a.k.a. Sons of Liberty Day), but dare I ask: where are our modern day patriots? Have we already locked them up under this aptly titled “Patriot” Act?