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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How are the Boston Tea Party participants not terrorist?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) September 17th, 2010

How were the so-called patriots of Boston Harbor’s famous tea party not terrorist? You dress up as Native American, board ships that you don’t own, toss over teas to screw the sitting government you don’t bother stealing the teas to sell or use, it was done not because they wanted to personally attack some business owner but the Crown, so, how it is not and act of terrorism,? The fact that the winners get to redact history with their slant, have anything to do with it? We, the US, won the War of Independence to we got to frame the act in a favorable light? Would those Native American dressed cowards if they were not they would have gone as themselves been seen as patriots and good guys had the Crown won?

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29 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Well, they are, so story over.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Of course they’re terrorists. why would you think otherwise? Because we won that war, so we got to rewrite everything?!

breedmitch's avatar

History is written by the victors.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

When one’s voice is no longer heard, when the people go without redress, our founding fathers found this to justify violent revolution. Terrorism plays a big part in that.

“We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
—Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith (13 November 1787)

It can be said that when aroused, we are a violent people. As late as the summer of 1967 130 American cities were burning.

josie's avatar

Ditto @breedmitch . That is one of those basic principles in history. Have folks forgotten that much since high school?

DrBill's avatar

If your side loses, you’re a terrorist
If your side wins you’re a patriot

CyanoticWasp's avatar

“Terrorists”? You have to be kidding.

They don’t rate higher than “vandals” on a criminal scale. Who was hurt? threatened? terrorized? held hostage?

What nonsense.

tedd's avatar

Being a terrorist implies that you are committing acts of “terror.” Things that are meant to frighten and terrorize the general public. This often means picking targets that will inflict injury/death on large numbers of innocent people.

While I agree that in the eyes of the British at the time they were definitely rebels or yankees or what have you… to call them terrorists imo is a bit far.

If the neighborhood kids TP my house tonight, they would technically be breaking the law, but I would be hesitant to call them criminals.

iamthemob's avatar

@tedd is spot on. Although the Boston Tea Party comes pretty close to actions associated with some terrorists, there’s an agenda, target, as well as an intended consequences separation between the terrorism and civil disobedience or protest.

(1) AGENDA – protest attempts to get governments (I’ll use government as the proxy, but it can be corporations, etc.) to change, alter, or at a minimum discuss their policies in a manner that often will PREVENT the negative consequences of the policy from occurring. Terrorism, however, DEMANDS a shift in policy fully from the current one to meet the terrorists concept of what should occur, so that they will FORCE CAUSES (often ones that will be negative to the target).

(2) TARGET – protest will most generally aim at the government as it’s target. This may affect people, but they will clearly not be the intended target. Terrorism, on the other hand, will target people.

(3) INTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF THE ACTS – protest wants to inform those who aren’t directly the target as well as the target of their issues. Terrorism’s goal is to create fear among the population so that they will tell their officials, etc., to accept the policy shift from the terrorist organization.

Terrorism, in many ways, is an attempt to create a hostage situation on a mass scale. Although certain acts of protest or of people many call “freedom fighters” may be identical to terrorist acts, this is often at the point where protest, etc., has failed, and the situation is closer to one of internal conflict or an attempt at revolution.

plethora's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Your question makes me want to throw up

iamthemob's avatar

I thought it was valid

Zyx's avatar

Before 9/11 only America knew about terrorism and now they’ve shoved it down our throats. The term terrorism refers to a severely flawed tactic no actual threat would resort to. (Seriously, tell the enemy what you want them to do and expect them to do it? What’s up with that? Interesting sidenote, muslim women might be beaten into submission more easily than western women because of their brittle bones resulting from a lack of sunlight.) The guys that flew those planes are dead now. I for one think it is therefore impossible for them to have achieved their ultimate goal, they were delusional/religious.

Calling someone a terrorist is equally insane, it’s like saying “I take offense to you and I’m not above having you executed without a trial”. Art thou not not retards? Doth thou not see that the only terrorism is in the word terrorism? There are more things to fear than fear itself but the only reason people are dying is because they hate each other for some reason.

No one is a terrorist, except half of all presidents.

iamthemob's avatar

Before 9/11 only America knew about terrorism and now they’ve shoved it down our throats

That statement needs to be backed up. I’m pretty sure that many, many other nations “knew” about terrorism – and in fact terrorism had a direct effect on the daily lives of its people.

But of course, the entire statement seems inflammatory, so I don’t really expect back up.

anartist's avatar

They were protesters. That is why they did not steal the tea. However their acts of trespass and destruction of property were criminal and they could have been arrested and charges could have been pressed. To my knowledge, nothing has been written about criminal prosecution. I am sure the Indian costume fooled no one and the perpetrators were known to the Boston government. It seems to have been responded to as a protest.

plethora's avatar

@tedd Thank you….the voice of reason and common sense.

This was an issue which the colonists had sought to redress and their preferred means of expressing their discontent was to send the taxed tea back to England. The British Royal Governor in Boston refused to send it back. The tea alone was destroyed. No one was harmed and nothing else was destroyed. Hardly terrorism.

Zyx's avatar

@iamthemob Fine, maybe I generalized a bit too much since wikipedia implies extortion and blackmail are also terrorism. The term is just useless, is the point I’m trying to make. And Bush’s “war on terror” was a retarded idea no one needed to know about. Wars pretty much don’t solve anything anyway, yet I still have to hear about it in the news almost erryday. Hell, you even want more Dutch people to go and fight your war for you.

Wiki says “The notion of a “war on terror” has been criticized for lacking a defined and identifiable enemy, thus making it a potential framework for perpetual military action pursuing other goals.”

Getting back on topic I suppose the Boston Tea Party was simply an elaborate protest where “terrorism” would seem to imply a hostage situation.

Also, calling someone’s post inflammatory: extremely inflammatory.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@iamthemob Terrorism, however, DEMANDS a shift in policy fully from the current one to meet the terrorists concept of what should occur, so that they will FORCE CAUSES (often ones that will be negative to the target). They seem to have done that, and I am sure there were other acts not as famous used to achieve that aim. They wanted a complete change in policy or a whole new policy with out the Crown anywhere in it.

TARGET – protest will most generally aim at the government as it’s target. This may affect people, but they will clearly not be the intended target. Terrorism, on the other hand, will target people. They could not get to the Crown so the ships with the tea were the de facto Crown to be attacked. They were surely after a blow to the Crown the sitting government. I have heard nations being called terrorist states even though these governments are the sitting governments. Because they have an effect on the people as part of their governing that constitutes terrorism? If so would that place the US with its ”sneak and peak”, rendition, and other broad Patriot Act measures where anyone can disappear as a “person if interest” and no one has to even be informed what happened to them or where they are at?

Terrorism’s goal is to create fear among the population so that they will tell their officials, etc., to accept the policy shift from the terrorist organization. To me it would seem the aim of the terrorist is to create chaos. To disrupt the workings of the government so anarchy descends and the government is crippled and cease to function.

@plethora Bucket and breath mints?
The tea alone was destroyed. No one was harmed and nothing else was destroyed. Hardly terrorism. So, if I wanted to protest the war and all the money wasted on it that could be used here to help people really in need, and I trespass onto a national guard base and torch the Humvees and the equipment shack I would just be seen as a vandal or arsonist by this government and not tried as a terrorist? Really?

iamthemob's avatar

@Zyx

Inflammatory sure. But only if you really meant what you said. I didn’t want to assume that considering the vast overgeneralizations.

First, accepting as fact what you read on wikipedia as fact without going to the primary sources is dangerous. It’s amazing as an initial source, but reading it doesn’t mean that you’re informed on the subject. I would look to the U.N. Security Council Resolutions on Terrorism as a better place for an understanding on the official international stance on terrorism.

Unfortunately, the generalizations continue:

Fine, maybe I generalized a bit too much since wikipedia implies extortion and blackmail are also terrorism. The term is just useless, is the point I’m trying to make. And Bush’s “war on terror” was a retarded idea no one needed to know about. Wars pretty much don’t solve anything anyway, yet I still have to hear about it in the news almost erryday. Hell, you even want more Dutch people to go and fight your war for you.

(1) Unless you have a full understanding of terrorism as a working concept, you can’t judge whether it’s “completely” useful or not. It is used too expansively. But it is a VERY useful tool when we consider questions EXACTLY like this one. The concept of terrorism helps separate out those with agendas which may be justifiable from those who don’t.

(2) The War on Terror is propaganda extraordinaire, I agree. However, everyone needs to know about the ideas behind it and participate in it, because it’s an international issue, and there are far too many governments who are willfully blind to those terrorist activities that take place within their boarders that affect the lives of others outside their nation.

(3) War, although terrible, is sometimes necessary as “the continuation of politics by other means.” Stating that it never solves anything puts far too must trust in an individual nation’s ability to handle its affairs. In fact, fear of going to war may have devastating results. The reticence of the U.S. to get involved in WWII as well as the reticence of the international community to refer to the situation in Darfur as a “genocide” are two examples.

(4) I’d rather hear about this stuff than not know it’s going on. Frightening right? Of course, you could also change the channel.

(5) I don’t know what war you’re talking about. I’m not sure that you’re clear on it either. Further, when you’re dealing with a nation the size of the U.S., it’s incredibly difficult to refer to a general “you”. In essence, it’s much the same as saying “You” to refer to ALL Europeans.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

I have heard nations being called terrorist states even though these governments are the sitting governments

Terrorist states are generally those with information that there are terrorist groups using their nation as a home base, and the government turns a blind eye to the activity. It could consist of groups attacking the nation’s own populations of that of another state. The point is that the acts are generally ignored because the groups are doing something either directly or impliedly endorsed by the government, but something it can’t do itself without risking violation of international law and providing the right for other countries to engage in legal (even violent) sanctions against it.

To me it would seem the aim of the terrorist is to create chaos. To disrupt the workings of the government so anarchy descends and the government is crippled and cease to function.

That’s one of the effects, definitely – the main goal is to instill fear, but you’re right to bring this up – this would be the most extreme result the terrorists would hope for.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central you’re smarter than this…

If you go “torching” Humvees and “the equipment shack”, then you’re dealing with potentially explosive fuels as well as who-knows-what in “the equipment shack”. Not to mention that this stuff is guarded, and the tea on the ships in Boston Harbor was either not guarded at all, or the guards were co-opted, paid off or tipped off to not be around. You would be putting lives at direct risk, even if your “torching” operation didn’t kill people outright. No one on the Boston Tea Party struck a match to a ship. (Ships of that era would burn like kindling because of all the cloth sails, tarred rope rigging, tar and pitch used to caulk the wooden plank decking and hulls, etc. If anyone put a torch to part of the rigging or sails, then those ships—and any neighboring ships in the harbor—would have gone off like Roman candles.)

So we’re dealing with totally different situations and scenarios. Now, if you went to the National Guard armory and merely spiked the engines of the Humvees, or painted peace signs on the doors, or sugared the fuel or some other kind of “vandalism”, then… you’d be a vandal. No prosecutor would pass the laugh test of trying to convict you of “terrorism”.

But there’s another element you inflated. The National Guard is a part of the US military. The East India Company, though it was a crown monopoly (or whatever the term was at the time) was non-military. So what commercial enterprise of the US government would you like to attack?

- Hack the computers at Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac? That’s hardly “terrorism”, if your only actions are “commercial”;
– Disable the Fed governors’ limousines? Not terrorism.

plethora's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Speaking of hypocrisy and sheer idiocy.

Zyx's avatar

@iamthemob I use terms like “you” and “I” for ease, I’ll stop once people don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about anymore.

1) I’ve already commented on this, it’s a poorly defined term easily bended to fit any agenda.
2) I don’t know what you’re implying (yes I do) but the last time I checked we weren’t the ones letting civillians own guns. And skipping ahead to 4, the propaganda was what I was referring to.
3) Yes those are two fine examples of war used to end war. What was gained? Let’s look at WWII: Warmachines that take the labour of a million people to produce? A state of global mutually assured destruction that still exists today? War still solving stuff for you?
4) I’m not saying I’d rather have you invading countries without me knowing about it, I just think I’d be more convinced your invasion of the middle east was justified if I had seen even the slightest bit of proof that anyone there was a threat to anyone. Hijacking a couple of planes does not take an entire country, it just takes a couple of lunatics. I still think it’s ridiculous those planes weren’t shot down considering the targets.
5) Oh I don’t know, how many countries have you sent troops into this year? First Afghanistan (well, not first obviously), then Iraq. You’re fighting a guerilla war halfway across the world in self defence? That makes no sense.

iamthemob's avatar

@Zyx

(1) You’ve commented. You haven’t supported. Most terms can be bended to fit any agenda, and they still have their use (e.g., militants, revolutionaries, sovereignty).

(2) I don’t know where gun ownership comes into play. I’m assuming you’re from the Netherlands. Last I checked, the reason you all had the Peace Palace was because of the U.S. So, there’s a random counter-example for every random example.

(3) I never said the purpose of war was ever to end war. That’s BS. As long as there is people, we are likely to always have war – the same as we are likely to have murder, theft and rape. War is the resort when atrocities committed by a state cannot be responded to through other means. War didn’t create the atomic bomb – science did. War accelerated this development. To say that people will not attempt to find a way to weaponize profound importance scientific discoveries regarding energy, propulsion, etc. is naive, don’t you think?

(4) Sadam Hussein was responsible for the slaughter of almost 200,000 of his own citizens due to his attempts to ethnically cleanse Iraq of the Kurdish population.. This was an even more direct example of genocide than the situation in Darfur, as Sudan was a failed state at the time. This was direct government action. I’m not saying the U.S. propaganda surrounding the war should be explained through some form of apologetics, but how was he not a threat to anyone? Again, shouldn’t we be responsible as an international community for atrocities committed by a state against it’s people? As someone who resides where the ICJ sits, I should hope you know the answer to the from an international legal responsibility context.

(5) See above for legitimate reasons for the invasion of Iraq. I do NOT support the Bush Doctrine regarding preemptive self defense (however, that concept did not originate really within the U.S., as I hope you know). The continued presence in Iraq is due to the fact that removing a dictatorship will, generally, create a power vacuum that enables further power abuses. Again, I hope you know the responsibility for ensuring stability in an occupied state by an invading power. I don’t think it would make sense to “hit it and quit it,” so to speak.

I agree with questioning the motivations and reasons stated by the government…but there are unfortunate necessities associated with being a global community. Although the propaganda spins this as being about American interests, do you think any nation is able to “sell a war” because the reason is to protect or help another nation? Or because (and this is CLEARLY a huge part) it wants to protect the energy interests of the Western world (of which the Netherlands is still a part) and the economic interests of MNCs? Nope. Honesty doesn’t sell. And mothers wouldn’t send their sons to die for it a lot of the time.

So really, what’s up?

Zyx's avatar

@iamthemob

Well, probably mostly due to my ramblings and short attention span we’re now so far off topic I have looked up on my screen three times to see what the original question was. I don’t really care about the peace palace, though that may just be ignorance. But I don’t think gun ownership is a random example, there is A LOT of data to back up that it turns your country to shit. Which you can look up for yourself, as I will only inform you wikipedia is a far more reliable source than any other on the internet.

A single man can’t kill 200000 people so I’ll give you that one but it still sort of seems like a Eurasian problem. I don’t know why no one else did anything but doesn’t America have a lot of it’s own problems? Including a national debt I would tip my hat to and which actually makes war and a great part of your extensive military seem unwise to support.

http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

That is not a healthy number, and I want my damn money back.

iamthemob's avatar

@Zyx

Issues such as terrorism are international in scope. I actually had the opportunity to study human rights law in the international context while in Amsterdam. It’s funny – while I was there it was assumed that the U.S. citizens had a very narrow and self-involved perspective on the international community. After being there for a while, and after reading all of the above (genocide is not a Eurasian problem, but rather something that mandates third party country intervention legally) I’m concerned more about the Netherlands.

Zyx's avatar

@iamthemob

“genocide is not a Eurasian problem, but rather something that mandates third party country intervention legally”. This seems contradictory, by saying it was a Eurasian problem I meant a third party on this very large continent would have been a more obvious choice to intervene. I already mentioned my astonishment with no one here interfering. If you think it’s more logical for the US to take care of this stuff globally, WHAT?

People are idiots everywhere, not just here or over there, and I don’t feel like arguing about this anymore. Though we might agree on genocide the US acts with disturbing arrogance towards the rest of the world. I might go as far as to say this entire discussion was about the morality of history being written by the victor. As long as the US can’t stick to the facts I’ll continue thinking it’s wrong in everything it does. You’re free to think the same about the Netherlands, I don’t like our government either.

iamthemob's avatar

This seems contradictory, by saying it was a Eurasian problem I meant a third party on this very large continent would have been a more obvious choice to intervene

Of course. Did they? No. But of course, logically, ALL nations should take care.

Zyx's avatar

Logically if they could work together like that there would be no countries.

iamthemob's avatar

I doubt that’s accurate – I mean, the U.S. is a federal government with responsibilities split between the federal and state levels…there’s the U.N….and I believe you’re a member in the E.U.

This is getting off topic though – I think that it’s important to have the international community involved in defining and policing terrorism generally – as in many cases the questions asked by the OP is one that the international community should be offering it’s comment on – considering that internally governments will often define resistance as crime or terrorism.

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