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Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Seattle latté and Boston Tea

Yesterday, there was a piece on the BBC's 'Today' programme about the idea of having a small tax on coffees in Seattle coffee bars (or something like that but, apparently, the proposal has been turned down so it's old news). Still that's only en passant. The piece began by referring to the Boston Tea Party as a protest against British taxes. This apparently is one of those myths that gets into history books.

According to Simon Hoggart (Guardian 29 Jan 2000),
the Boston Tea Party was not a protest against British taxes. On the contrary, it was organised by tea smugglers who were outraged that the British had abolished the unenforceable tax on tea, and so had destroyed their livelihoods.
Hoggart also writes (Guardian, 15 July 2000), having had ample time to check his facts
the Boston tea party was a protest not against British taxes, but against the removal of the duty on tea. The men dressed up as Indians in Boston harbour were smugglers whose livelihood had disappeared.
Now, I really resent it when wishful thinking is dressed up as fact. Because one would like to think of something as true does not make it so. Modern events where it is clear that myth has taken over (e.g. 'Saving Private Jennifer') or 'UNSCOM weapons inspectors were expelled from Iraq in 1998' (when they were, in fact, verifiably withdrawn) do not have the excuse of mists of antiquity - they're outright lies.

So when is someone publicly going to call Blair a liar for his wilful misrepresentation of a fact?

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