What Would Republicans Have Thought of the Boston Tea Party?

I mean, it WAS a Tea Party. That’s good. They were protesting TAXES! Yaay! And everyone dressed up as Indians so they were demonstrating political incorrectness AND pushing blame onto a troublesome minority at the same time. Great, a twofer! Come on, what’s not to like?
Well, hold on a minute. What about the violence part? I mean, they destroyed somebody else’s PRIVATE PROPERTY. You know tea doesn’t grow on trees (well, bushes), and it came on a boat all the way from China or India or someplace far away and those sailors had to go through storms and stuff and that cost somebody a WHOLE LOT OF MONEY and those violent protesters just threw it into the harbor! What if the owner didn’t have enough insurance? Or it didn’t cover acts of war or insurrection—and you know that’s what the insurance company would say, even if it was “Indians” who did it.
AND, even worse, they were protesting the legal actions of their OWN GOVERNMENT. It wasn’t that a few rogue tax collectors were out of control and giving a bad name to all the good tax collectors, it was the King and his whole government who raised the taxes! Gosh, you can’t take to the streets (or docks) to protest your own government, you should SUPPORT your government. No matter what. And if you don’t like it, just leave. God Save the King and all that (you DO stand up when they play that tune, don’t you?).
Gosh, what’s a good Republican to think? People with a just grievance but who are both protesting against the government AND destroying private property! Republican heads are spinning. We hate taxes but we hate violent protests against the government too! Where are my cognitive dissonance pills? I know, if the violent protest involves white people upset about money, it’s good and I’ll name a wing of my party after it. If it’s dark-skinned people upset about being beaten and murdered, it’s bad, and I can go on happily ignoring whose knee was on whose neck.

Liberal Guilt and the IRS “Scandal”

I’m tired of liberal guilt. One whiff of criticism and we prostrate ourselves, baring our backs for the conservative whip. “We’re bad, oh so bad! Please beat us so we can prove how sorry we are!”

Let’s stop the self-flagellation long enough to think. Now, nobody’s saying that even one Tea party applicant was inappropriately denied tax-exempt status (we’d have heard about that for sure).  Nobody’s saying that the IRS held conservative applications to different, more stringent standards—their applications were all judged by existing IRS rules on who can get tax-exempt status. No, what the Tea people are complaining about to high heaven is that a higher percentage of conservative applications were given detailed scrutiny—instead of, apparently, a quick gloss that lets more applications be mistakenly given tax-exempt status. In other words, they were less likely to be able to get away with cheating.

Well, too stinkin’ bad! I can’t work up a lot of guilt about someone whose main complaint is that it’s harder for them to cheat than the other guy and that they’re being made to follow the rules. What I can get worked up about is the fact that apparently not everybody who wants tax-exempt status is getting carefully scrutinized. The IRS should look at every such application with high suspicion. But people who get caught breaking the rules have no legitimate beef.

Your money or your life

I saw some car decals the other day that neatly summed up the conservative paradox. Right next to each other on the back window of a big, black SUV were the decals “T.E.A.” (taxed enough already—the TEA party) and “Semper Fi” (the slogan of the Marines). “Semper Fi,” of course is to send the message that the driver is willing to give up his life or his children’s lives to do whatAmericaneeds to have done. The “TEA” means that the driver is not willing to spend his money to do what America needs to have done.

Now I have two sons and fortunately have not had the experience of losing one of them. However, I have paid a lot of money in taxes. Although I don’t like paying taxes, I somehow don’t think the pain of spending a little more money could be anywhere near the agony of losing a child. Yet the 2 decals I saw suggest I’ve somehow got it backwards. The driver appears to value his money more than his children’s lives.

Why does the government’s call to spend your life remain unquestioned and unquestionable to the same people who march in the streets and spit venom at any governmental request for the lesser sacrifice of money? The disconnect  seems to transcend mere policy differences—the specific war we are asked to fight, the specific program we are asked to fund. A segment of our population embraces the concept of sacrificing a child and rejects the concept of sacrificing a portion of their income. But isn’t it the same thing, only of different magnitude? And the magnitude of the sacrifice is much, much greater when a life is given up. I think even the driver with the decals would admit this if asked explicitly, so I’d like to hear him explain why he glorifies the one sacrifice and vilifies the other? Are we not equally being asked to give of ourselves that others might benefit?

What’s even more interesting is the difference in the opportunity to contribute. Even if we wanted too, we couldn’t all serve in the Marines and fire a weapon on the front line, but we could all proudly pay for our government and its programs—and honor those who do.