Friday, September 4, 2009

Rewriting History

Retired USAF Lt. Col. William Astore says it's time to demilitarize our culture. There are some points I agree with (our support for soldiers should extend to their return home), some I disagree with (I don't find giant flags or military flyovers to be scary), and one statement I have to correct.

Astore, who's now a history professor, writes:

we shouldn't need reminding that this country was originally founded as a civilian society, not a militarized one. Indeed, the revolt of the 13 colonies against the King of England was sparked, in part, by the perceived tyranny of forced quartering of British troops in colonial homes, the heavy hand of an "occupation" army, and taxation that we were told went for our own defense, whether we wanted to be defended or not.

Actually, as far as societies go, our nation was much more militarized at its founding than it is today. True, we didn't have much of a standing army, but able-bodied men were expected to defend their homes, towns, and country against enemies foreign and domestic.

As for the revolt of the 13 colonies, the quartering of British troops before hostilities happened in one location (Boston), and that quartering took place as a result of the citizens of Boston's outright refusal to obey the Stamp Act. Further escalation of troops into Boston came after the destruction of tens of thousands of dollars in private property (the Tea Party). Yes, clearly the quartering of British troops was something that stuck in the craw of our Founding Generation (which is why we have the 3rd Amendment), but I wouldn't say it was a chief cause of the revolution in Massachusetts.

As for the "occupation army", the British troops weren't seen as interlopers or foreigners, because the vast majority of colonists considered themselves to be British, at least until Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" was released in early 1776 (after Lexington, Concord, Fort Ticonderoga, and Bunker Hill). Paul Revere, despite what you may have read, never shouted "The British are coming!" on his midnight right. Instead, he yelled that the "Regulars" were on the march. This was a civil war, not an invasion by an occupying army.

Finally, the taxation issue wasn't about "taxation that we were told went for our own defense, whether we wanted to be defended or not." Oh, the colonists had no problem with defense. In fact, many of the older fighters in the American Revolution fought in the French and Indian War (including George Washington). The problem the colonists had was with the direct taxation from Parliament, rather than taxation through the state assemblies. Perhaps the professor remembers the phrase "No Taxation Without Representation"?

If Professor Astore wants to make his case, that's fine. There's no need to rewrite history, however.

1 comment:

  1. We see this re-writing in many areas of society today. From parts of History distorted because of ideology, to parts of Scripture thrown out because it's "Politically Incorrect". We continue to allow this at our own peril. Excellent post.