Monday, July 18, 2016

Is Rebellion in America's Blood?

A passage in Dr. Gregg Frazer's very thoughtful piece arguing that the American Revolution was not a just war brought something to mind. Below is the passage from pages 12-13 of the PDF. Again I added paragraph breaks but did not reproduce Frazer's added emphasis:
Unfortunately, American colonists during the Revolutionary era were far more likely to be subject to propaganda designed to stir up rebellion than to have impartial or fair accounts of events. The prime mover in this propaganda effort was Samuel Adams.1 Pauline Maier, one of the most respected historians of the period, characterizes Adams as a man who ‘evaded truth and mishandled the facts so glaringly that almost everything he wrote is a demand for refutation’ (Maier 1980: 10). Another said that Adams ‘preached hate to a degree without rival’ (Maier 1980: 11). Yet another scholar titled his Adams biography Sam Adams: Pioneer in Propaganda (Miller 1966). In that work, 15 pages are devoted to the account of Adams’s propaganda efforts regarding the so-called Boston Massacre alone (Miller 1966: 178–192).
Labeling the accidental killing of five people a ‘massacre’ was an ingenious propaganda stroke to begin with. But the key to his efforts was to depict the event as a purposeful massacre – as a ‘deliberate plot by the British soldiers to murder innocent Whigs’ (Miller 1943: 297). That was necessary and effective for achieving Adams’s ultimate goal of increasing militancy; ‘to prove the necessity of fighting British troops before they had opportunity to gain a foothold in the country’ (Miller 1966: 190–191). ...
The fact that the soldiers involved were acquitted by a jury of Bostonians and the fact that with his dying breath, one of the ‘victims’ testified that the colonists were armed (Miller 1966: 189), baiting the soldiers, assaulting them with chunks of ice, and other inconvenient facts were lost in the barrage of propaganda promoting the conspiracy theory that the radicals needed the people to believe. The paranoia created by the ‘deliberate plot’ story contributed greatly to the citizens of Massachusetts arming themselves and drilling as militia in expectation of future British assaults. That led directly to the confrontation at Lexington.
Largely because of the blatantly false information and clever misinformation spread at every juncture from the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party, to wild rumors of random killings of Americans in September of 1774, thousands of colonists formed illegal militia units and stockpiled weapons. ...
And S. Adams was one of the "orthodox Christian" ones. 

The tenor of Dr. Frazer's article tends to portray the sentiments of the American Revolution as driven by lawless hooliganism. The thought that came to my mind when reading these passages was Australia. Another former English colony. Sam Adams, as portrayed, reminds me of a veritable Bon Scott. Whereas the Brits can seem rather stuffy, the Australians have more of a wild streak to them. And that could be explained because they were founded as a penal colony, as I learned in K-12 school.

Something I didn't learn in K-12: In researching that thought further, I discovered, though America didn't serve exclusively as a penal colony, it was in fact a dumping ground for British convicts and scoundrels.  If I understand the history right, the reason for Australia's needed existence as a such a dumping ground was because after 1783 Great Britain could no longer use America for that purpose.

Hence the "Australian Solution."

As Bon Scott sings, "all in the name of liberty."

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