Jim Denison on Does the Boston Tea Party and Jesus’ Cleansing of the Temple Justify Violence?

Saks Fifth Avenue surrounded its flagship Manhattan store with razor wire yesterday to keep thieves from stealing expensive merchandise. While protests across the US were more peaceful last night, the Associated Press announced this morning that at least 9,300 people have been arrested since George Floyd’s death.

Yesterday, I made the claim that violence is not the right response to violence. I’ve seen two counter arguments we didn’t have space to consider in my article.

What George Washington thought of the Boston Tea Party 

One is that violent protests are “as American as the Boston Tea Party.” New York Times columnist Charles Blow tweeted: “It is estimated that the Boston Tea Party, the riot that gave birth to this country, resulted in $1.7 million dollars (in today’s dollars) in property damage (tea). I’m just going to leave this right here for whoever needs to read it.”

I’m not certain the Boston Tea Party was a riot (it was conducted by men in disguise under cover of darkness) or that it “gave birth to this country” (our origins are far more complex). George Washington voiced strong disapproval of the perpetrators’ “conduct in destroying the tea”; Benjamin Franklin insisted that the British be reimbursed for the lost tea and even offered to pay for it himself.

Columnist Joshua Lawson noted: “Though many witnessed the event’s aftermath, it was a moonlit, covert act completed in three hours. No harm came to the ships and crews . . . No violence or confrontations of any kind took place between the British soldiers, colonial patriots, or Tory loyalists that night.”

Except for the tea, the only property that was damaged was a single broken padlock on one of the ships, which was replaced the next day by the patriots. The sole injury was to one of the patriots, who was knocked unconscious when he was struck by a crate of tea.

To make the Boston Tea Party analogous to the violence perpetrated after George Floyd’s horrific death, the patriots would have destroyed the property of their countrymen, threatened members of other militia companies, rioted in the streets of Boston, and burned down the homes and businesses of their neighbors. None of which happened, of course.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison