It's a Family Tradition: The Looting, Rioting Founding Fathers

"With respects to the Lieut. Governor’s House, where they ended their vile [transactions]…they had rais’d a greater Number and were intoxicated with Liquor, broke his Windows, threw all his furniture out of his House, stamp’d upon the Chairs, Mahogany Tables, very handsome Large gilt-framed Pictures, the Pieces of which lay in Piles in the Street, open’d his Beds and let all the Feathers out, took ten thousand pounds in Cash, took all his Cloathes, Linnen, Plate, and everything he had, cut the Balcony off the Top of his House, pulled down all the Fruit Trees in his Garden, and did him in all 25,000 pounds damage."

That passage is quoted in an online article titled "American Heroes: Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty." The Sons of Liberty were reacting to the 1765 passage of the Stamp Act by the British parliament, which levied a bunch of taxes on a bunch of shit in order to pay for the French and Indian War and for the cost of stationing British troops in the colonies. So a bunch of drunken fucks, pissed off at rich people in Massachusetts, went nutzoid and rioted, looting the houses of several wealthy British officials. Adams, who was kind of asshole, led the looters, and we now gladly down beer with his picture on it.

The Sons of Liberty were also in the habit of torturing loyalists through tarring and feathering, which doesn't make you look delightfully like a chicken, but horrifically scarred and, often, killed the victims. And they were responsible for the Boston Tea Party, which, as you probably know, is the greatest event in the history of anything, except Jesus.

Historians point out that the Sons of Liberty escalated the violence in the Boston area, which led to heightened tensions with the British soldiers, which led, eventually, to the Boston Massacre, which led, eventually, to the entire revolution. The Sons were an accelerant for something that was inevitable, and violence was their rhetoric. For that, they are revered as "heroes" in the story of the founding of this nation. The Sons of Liberty, which was never one group but a bunch of terrorist cells, if you will, included John Adams, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, and John Hancock. In other words, many of those we mythologize and call "Father."

Now, we are supposedly a more advanced society. We are supposed to do our activism by hashtag and Change.org petition, the corporate- and government-approved whines of the connected but dispossessed.

But what's happening in Ferguson, Missouri, is so very American, so very much a part of our DNA. It doesn't excuse the crimes being committed, but if we are supposed to overlook the savagery of the Sons of Liberty as "oh, well, that's what you do to get independence from tyranny," then why should we condemn the Ferguson rioters for showing unhinged outrage at the murder of black males.

Real change doesn't occur without the shock of bodies putting themselves out there. We aren't used to that anymore. We are used to something awful happening, MSNBC doing a few days of reporting on it, left-wing blogs gabbing it up, and then moving on. But the damage will be there for a while in Ferguson, the constant, physical reminders of the tyranny that enacts itself regularly on the bodies of black men.