Dear reader please indulge me a little bit of history.
On December 16th. 1773, protests against punitive British taxes in Britain’s American colonies culminated in 50 Bostonians boarding and capturing 3 British ships — the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver in Boston Harbour on the east coast of America. By 9pm they had opened 342 crates of tea in all three ships and had thrown them into Boston Harbor. They took off their shoes, swept the decks, and made each ship’s first mate agree to say that the Sons of Liberty had destroyed only the tea. The whole event was remarkably quiet and peaceful. The next day, they sent someone around to fix the one padlock they had broken.
Following the Boston Tea Party, the protesters approached George III the King of Britain, with some modest proposals for reform that included a small degree of self-government and the right to raise their own taxes. The protesters weren’t initially interested in Independence from the Motherland – they considered themselves loyal British subjects who were only interested in the continuing health of the British empire and a prosperous future of her greatest colony.
Rather than accede to these progressive and well-thought out proposals George III became increasingly despotic. Responding with ever more coercive laws and random acts of brutality, the British response only succeeded in radicalising and fermenting rebellion in the increasingly put-upon colonialists, eventually leading to a full-blown revolutionary war.
George was a tragic-comic figure. His erratic behaviour (many historians speculate he suffered mental illness), and peculiar and excessive appetites perhaps explain his bungled handling of what was to become the American War of Independence. The war, as we know, was a disaster for the British. Under George’s incompetent and increasingly bizarre leadership, a huge, well-trained and equipped army – that on paper was vastly superior to the rag-taggle American patriot brigades – was eventually defeated at the battle of Yorktown.
If only George hand listened to the initial modest requests of the Boston tea party petitioners (who were proud British subjects) the situation might never have spiralled out of control. If the Bostonians simple reforms had been accepted and implemented by the King, the Union Jack would probably still be flying over Washington to this day, George Bush wouldn’t be President and the yanks wouldn’t be yanks – they’d be our British cousins “over the pond”.
So what’s this all got to do with Koptalk, my banning, and Duncan Oldham?
Karl Marx famously stated that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” For the Boston Tea Party (for the British at least), read tragedy for Duncan Oldham’s response to my modest proposals to reform Koptalk read “farce”.
Oh Duncan what have you done, to paraphrase our bitter friends across the park “if you knew your history………”
* Tom is a former member of Koptalk, he can now be found posting regularly on www.est1892.co.uk.