07 September 2009

Glenn Beck and the Ghost of the Boston Tea Party


By Paul J. O'Rourke

He stood on the stage bathing in the adulation of the assembled dignitaries. The Nobel Prize! At last, his body of work had been given the honor it deserved! As the standing ovation went on he thought of his critics. He knew they were watching. Did this great hall look like the rubber room where they said he’d spend the rest of his days bouncing? Ha! His struggle had been so worth the effort…

Glenn Beck was awakened from his dream of adequacy by the sound of a man clearing his throat. He sat up and, as his eyes adjusted, saw a glowing white Colonial ghost standing beside his bed.

“Who are you?”

“My friends call me Ben. We have been watching you for some time, and see how loyal you are to our cause. I have been sent to accord you the honor of attending the real Boston Tea Party, that you may then be able to advance our efforts with more familiarity and fervor at your tea party. We haven’t much time. Touch my sleeve and join the cause.”

Glenn reached out and in an instant found himself standing on a street in colonial Boston. A group of men were jogging by. “This is it!” he thought as he fell in beside a man disguised as an Indian and carrying a tomahawk.

“Hello, neighbor. My name is Glenn Beck, what’s yours?”

“We’re not using names tonight, friend, but since you volunteer yours, mine is Hewes. George Hewes. Now, as this is a task for arms and backbone, not lips, keep to the work and to your business. There is no need for inquiry. If you find yourself confused follow my lead.”

Their group boarded a ship and assembled on the deck. The man in charge told Hewes to get the keys so they could unlock the ship’s hold. The Captain surrendered them with no resistance. As the hatches were being opened Hewes motioned for Glenn to join him at the ship’s rail.

Soon crates of tea were being tossed at their feet. George would chop into them with his tomahawk, then they would lift and throw them into the harbor. Glenn was filled with an intense sense of patriotism. All worked in silence for well over an hour without stopping, but as the men below deck got deeper into the hold there was time to rest between crates.

During one pause George spoke. “I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such a still night.” There wasn’t any wind, and the only sounds were the murmur of the crowd on the wharf, the tomahawks chopping and splashes made by the tea crates. Glenn took this to mean he could now speak. “Yes, it is a still night.” Pointing at some ships anchored not far away Glenn asked “Whose ships are those?”

“Those are British.”

“British?” Glenn was confused. “They don’t mind us taking tea from their ships?”

“These are American ships.”

“But the tea is British?”

“No, the tea belongs to the East India Company.”

“And the taxes made the tea too expensive”, Glenn declared, feeling himself on more familiar ground.

“The tax is a problem, but the tea is cheaper now than before.”

“I don’t understand”, Glenn said, now on even more familiar ground. “How can that be?”

George sighed impatiently. “It has long been the law that the colonies import tea only from England. Recently, because of the taxes and duties charged by the crown, our boycott and the Dutch tea smugglers, the East India Company’s warehouses became full of tea they couldn’t sell. They were near bankruptcy when Parliament and King George suspended the duties and taxes paid in Britain, and allowed for direct importation of tea to the colonies, eliminating the price addition by the English brokers. They also granted East India a monopoly on our tea imports. Now, even as a small tax remains, the cost is less than what the Dutch are charging.”

It took a moment for Glenn to grasp the meaning of it all. “Let me get this straight. We’re on an American ship destroying a private company’s legally purchased product, even after they have, through tax cuts and market innovation, trimmed their overhead, eliminated the middleman, and brought you quality tea at a low price. George, I’m sure you think yourself a patriot, but you are attacking the very engine of liberty!”

George was not pleased with Glenn’s accusation. “I have no more desire to be taxed without representation by Parliament and King than I do to be ruled by an incorporation! First a monopoly on tea, then who knows what next? Will they control everything we…”

George didn’t finish his thought. “Socialist!” Glenn shouted as he pushed him over the rail into the cold water below.

Somebody cried out “Man overboard, get a rope!” As three men attended to rescuing George, the rest began surrounding Beck. Glenn dropped to his knees and started stuffing the loose tea in his pockets, then his pants. “This is private property. It must be returned. You don’t understand what you’re doing. You’re not following free market principles!”

As the men drew closer, Glenn got to his feet. “This is class warfare! You are socialist fascists bent on destroying the free market system!”

A few men grabbed Beck and lifted him over their heads. As George was being hauled back to the deck, Glenn was sent flying into the drink, becoming the only tea bag thrown into Boston Harbor that night.

He was treading water until he realized he was back in his bedroom, standing in front of the ghost.

“Well, Mister Beck, what have you learned tonight?”

“I hope this doesn’t offend you, Ben, but I don’t think those men truly knew what they were doing. Sure, the tax on tea was wrong, but that was a minor matter compared to their outright theft of private property and vandalism. They were only hurting themselves by protesting in that way. The Tea Party was a collectivist assault on the free market principles that make for a great nation, and those men, as well intentioned as they were, were traitors. I hope you don’t mind me saying that, but that’s how I see it.”

“I don’t mind at all,” Ben replied “I quite agree. Sometimes in their passion about one issue men neglect to consider the larger point.”

“Exactly!” Glenn paused. “Come to think of it,” he said as he began to sob “it’s obvious that this descent…” Overcome with emotion, he bit his knuckles softly and held his hand up to ask for time to recover. “…into socialist fascism began 236 years ago. No wonder the forces of destruction are so strong today!”

The ghost nodded. “You have well learned the lesson of the Boston Tea Party, Glenn Beck, even if you tend towards lacing your corset a bit too tightly. I now must take my leave, confident that you will continue the battle for our cause in your own day. Never forget the lesson you learned this evening, and never surrender the cause!”

With that the ghost began to fade.

Glenn smiled. “I’ll not forget the cause, and will always carry the honor of not only meeting Benjamin Franklin, but having you validate my beliefs.”

“Not Benjamin Franklin.” The ghost said as he dissolved into the darkness.

“Benedict Arnold.”