Terrorism is in the Eye of the Property Holder

Print of Boston Tea Party with caption: revolutionary terrorists or just hippie radicals?Some members of the Texas legislature object to a curriculum program asks students to think about the Boston Tea Party as a terrorist act.  According to an article in the Austin American-Statesman by Ben Kamisar, “The lesson asked the teacher to read a ‘news report’ describing how a terrorist organization ransacked a port and destroyed valuable merchandise.” Kamisar quotes Senator Larry Taylor:

“Hopefully someone in here recognizes the difference between throwing tea in the harbor and a terrorist act. This was no terrorist act, this was an act of protest, and for our children to be taught this (way), I have a big problem with that.”

I would have thought it somewhat trite to say that one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, but apparently this thought isn’t axiomatic for my legislators. No doubt some of those objecting to classifying a “protest” as terrorism wouldn’t hesitate to term other acts of protest terrorism (such as eco-terrorism).

Judging by the article, there seem to be valid questions to raise about the curriculum, but encouraging the understanding of multiple perspectives is a laudable goal. The antilogical mindset was a key feature of classical rhetorical training, and it remains an essential element of not only of education but also civic literacy.

Image Credit: dugg simpson CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

About Todd Battistelli

Rhetorician and writing teacher. Keeping an eye on the state of civic discourse.
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