Some interesting, if aggressively contested and dismissed comparisons are being made between contemporary protests and the poignant struggles of our founders. Watching today’s lawful assemblies degenerate into a riots with almost formulaic regularity, it’s difficult to appreciate, or even glimpse what one might identify as patriotism. But here’s a news flash, television does not convey the entire picture.
It’s easy to be conflicted from your living room. That is not Patrick Henry exiting the burning CVS with an armload of paper products. Our era’s Abigail Adams did not just assault Geraldo Rivera outside Camden Yards. But who’s to say they’re not out there, just off camera? Why are the current issues under protest less legitimate than those of the colonists?
Because ours is an advanced, enlightened society? Tell that to the millions who can never get ahead, or even find jobs. Because we operate a civilized, inclusive democracy? Explain this to generations of impoverished whose situations don’t improve regardless of who is in power. Add to these conditions of near, or even true hopelessness, how agents of the state are killing unarmed individuals in your exact circumstance.
From my exceedingly well sheltered paradise in California it’s easy to observe, well, this guy stole some cigars, and that other guy was running from the police. In the neighborhoods where the deaths are occurring, can we make such distinctions? Are they even relevant? Did not King George say of disgruntled colonists what is being said of those who today take to the streets in justifiable frustration?
One key difference being highlighted is how the founding fathers wanted to build and be part of a prosperous, representative society. How do we know there’s a difference at all? There’s an excellent chance every single peaceful protestor wants that. There’s even a reasonable chance some of the non-peaceful representatives also want that. Here’s where the Boston Tea Party comparison, which we are quick to dismiss, actually makes sense. Protestors are called lawless for breaking curfew? You think our English sovereigns weren’t saying that about colonists who refused to accept the tea tax? The guy knifing holes in that fire hose may not be truly down with the struggle, but the 1700’s had it’s share of opportunists, and that didn’t disqualify the entire movement.
Again, from California, what the Black Panthers are saying is terrifying, and everything Michael Moore utters is asinine, but what is so different about the message of today’s disaffected, as defined by our own Declaration of Independence, and the exact people who wrote it? It’s easy to say citizens of Ferguson and Baltimore and everywhere else enjoy freedoms not afforded to, but secured through strife by our founders. Make that distinction for Eric Garner’s family. But Eric Garner broke the law. Did he? Or was he resisting tyranny? Was he laying a foundation on such principles and organizing powers in such form, as seemed most likely to effect Safety and Happiness?
We hold our founders in rightful high regard because of what they accomplished. But, what if the American Revolution had failed? George Washington would be our William Wallace. Known by some, admired by a few, though wouldn’t garner the same popular empathy because he was rich. Washington’s face wouldn’t be on any of our currency, I can tell you that.