The Next Last of the Mohicans?
The revolutionary guerrilla network, the Sons of Liberty, was a grassroots reaction to unjust taxation. It got off to a roaring start in 1765 by burning the Boston commissioner of stamps in effigy, and burning his home and offices to the ground. These first Tea Partiers invented American gonzo. Some smeared with paint and sporting feathers, in December of 1773 they dumped the equivalent of $1,000,000 worth of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the British Tea Act. But because the ships were owned by Americans, they were not damaged, and the decks were swept clean when the festivities ended.
The modern Tea Party movement also arose as a reaction to unjust taxation, with CNBC's Rick Santelli's rant on February 19, 2009 against the taxpayer bailout of bad mortgages. He called for a new Tea Party, and the dumping of mortgage derivatives into Lake Michigan. Since 2009, the abuses of government, especially those of the IRS, have worsened far beyond what the Sons of Liberty repudiated. But five years later, there is no tax revolt. Not even a shuffling of bureau-rats at the IRS is on the horizon.
I recently attended the South Carolina Tea Party convention. For three days, brilliant, passionate speakers addressed the audience of 600 about the destruction of American freedoms. I contemplated the scene. Since the first group of disgruntled Neanderthals growled against their pack leader for more bison meat, people have gathered innumerable times openly or in secret -- this convention was a bit of both -- to stand against chieftain, king, lord, master, or oppressive law. If there has been a group of malcontents more purely motivated by the ideals of freedom and its preservation in human history, I can't imagine who they were.
But I also thought that these Tea Party patriots are more psychologically similar to the indigenous peoples of the colonial period who were conquered, whose cultures were crushed and land taken by the European occupation, than they are to the painted marauders who overthrew the greatest military power on Earth. Will they be the last generation to enjoy the God-given liberties defined in the Declaration of Independence and secured by the Constitution? Their land is also being overrun by foreign occupiers brought in by the government; their religion is being suppressed by the government; their superbly humane way of life is being destroyed by the government. But are Tea Party patriots too conformist and well-behaved to be revolutionaries?
Here are four psychological characteristics that cause today's Tea Party patriots to suffer evils their namesakes would not have tolerated:
1. They have a defensive mindset due to relentless verbal abuse by the government/media complex.
In colonial times, the Indians were called savages. Analogously, Tea Party patriots passively accept invective by the government and its media mouthpieces. The term "savage" has been replaced by modern equivalents "racist," "sexist," "homophobe." Just this month Colin Powell called Tea Party patriots racist.
By a show of hands, the overwhelming majority of men -- and a good many women -- at the Tea Party convention were veterans. Speakers at the convention included a major general, two Marine lieutenant colonels, a Navy SEAL, and the parents of a fallen SEAL whose death was caused by the vice president's treacherous mouth. It is despicable for Powell to insult these veterans. Every penny of his larded comfort derives from unjust taxation, including of better soldiers than he. The Sons of Liberty would have burned the turncoat Powell in effigy and danced around the cinders of his mansion. Newspapers would have celebrated the spectacle. But today's Tea Party patriots just take it. That's how the psychology of mental abuse works.
2. Their religion -- Christianity -- has been completely politically neutralized.
The American Revolution was prosecuted by Christians. Christianity still provides the spiritual and moral foundation of today's Tea Party patriots. But just as the Indians were called heathens, and religiously persecuted, American Christianity is being suppressed by the government. Misinterpretations of the First Amendment combined with manipulative, tyrannical taxation have destroyed the political agency of Christians. American Christians stand by and do nothing as their co-religionists are murdered around the world. They accept the demeaning of their faith throughout government schools and offices both military and civilian. They pay the salaries of the officials who abuse them. Of all the outrages of government, the one that would be most incomprehensible to the first generation of American patriots is the governmental persecution of Christianity.
3. Tea Partiers may be too polite to save the Republic.
The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was an enormous property crime committed in a theatrical manner against the shipping industry, which was the lifeline of commerce. Today, the left wing is good at political theater, and the government-media machine excuses their "antics" when they poop on police cars. But there may not be a group of people on Earth less inclined to criminal behavior than Tea Party patriots. The only thing they would find more abhorrent than criminal activity is playing dress-up to do it.
Revolutions start with organized resistance, such as demonstrations, boycotts and strikes, and then civil and criminal disobedience, before war is declared. The Indians had no political or economic power. War was their only recourse, and they fought heroically.
Conservative Americans hold tremendous political and economic power but refuse to use it. They keep looking to elective politics, which is like the Indians looking to treaties to save them. If Tea Party patriots and their sympathizers adopted the methods of the Sons of Liberty, the government would whistle a different Yankee Doodle.
4. Unlike the left wing, Tea Party patriots repress public negative emotion.
One of the speakers at the convention gave an address entitled "Can we win by being insulting?" As he spoke, I thought, "Telling this group not to be insulting is like telling nudists not to be so shy." The right wing tends to repress public anger, while the left revels in foul-mouthed frenzies. Unlike progressives, Tea Partiers are psychologically conditioned by religion and culture to suppress negative emotion in public. This largely results from the difference in psychological conditioning between Judeo-Christian tradition and secular humanism.
These two worldviews differ markedly regarding the expression of emotion, especially anger. Consider Matthew 5:21-22: "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister shall be subject to judgment." Self-directed lifestyling of humanism reveres emotionality, and the emotional disrestraint of the left is a tremendous political advantage. Tea Partiers need to stop being concerned about how they look and sound. They need to use healthy, righteous anger to energize their cause. Some paint and feathers wouldn't hurt.
The Last of the Mohicans ends with the lamentations of an Indian prophet: "The pale-faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the red-men has not yet come again..." Is despotic government our new master? Has the time for freedom passed away?