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vendredi 26 mars 2010

Tea Party Protests – 21st century style (English)

Le présent billet a été rédigé par Jacquie Bridonneau, que je remercie.

I’m sure that most of you who have studied a bit of American history in school have heard of the term, “The Boston Tea Party”. This was an iconic event in early American history that took place in 1773, where a group known as the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, threw 342 chest of British tea into the Boston Harbor. They were dressed as Indians during this act. But why did they ever do such a thing, and why is this event so important in America’s history?

It was already the economy! The British East India Company was in dire need of fresh cash, and was able to convince the Parliament to allow them to sell tea to the American colonies at a low price, but undercutting local merchants, and most importantly, still receiving a token duty tax that the Americans would be forced to pay, with no counterpart. This “Tea Party” was one of the events that sparked the American Revolution against the British, where Americans rightly felt that the British Parliament should have no say in taxing them without political representation.

But now strangely enough, the “tea party” phrase has been back in style for the past year or so. It, like the original Tea Party, is used when a group of people are protesting against what they believe are unjustified taxes, or political movements. It has been attributed to CNBC's Rick Santelli who delivered the "rant heard around the world" about Barack Obama's mortgage bailout plan. President Obama is currently the victim of these tea parties, usually with conservative, grass-root origins, that have been organized throughout the US, especially as a protest to the bank bailouts, and against his health care bill, which remains quite unpopular.

So what happens in a 21st century tea party? You must remember that while we love to demonstrate in France, and do not hesitate to do so, especially in the larger cities, in the US, these large demonstrations are much less common. Like in France, people parade and carry protest signs. Some recent signs have read: “Nationalization is Theft,” “Honk...if I’m paying your mortgage,” (we often see bumper stickers that say, ‘Honk if you love Jesus,’ and when someone does honk on the interstate highway, it is like you are meeting a soul sister or brother) and “I am not your ATM!” There are also speakers using bullhorns to share their ideas, and of course loads of American flags. Now news of these tea parties is spread by social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or bloggers. These demonstrations are usually very well organized, with a starting and finishing time, and can serve refreshments, though usually not tea!

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