Rick Perry put on his best mom shirt and sweat all over the stage as he performed in a severe, drooling twang the Tea Party’s most cherished political tradition, the factually false re-telling of historical events. Here he is making up things about the original Boston Tea Party, telling everybody that “there was a time in this country when people were afraid to go out in public. You go back to Boston in the 1770s and people had to disguise themselves,” which is not, of course, actually the case. Our money’s on “Rick Perry conveniently confused Tea Party mythology with the popular narrative of persecution suffered by early Christians for political gain,” but that’s as much as we’re going to think about it. What does someone else have to say?
Oh good, Matt Yglesias explains:
Contrary to Perry’s assertion, nobody was “afraid to walk around in public” in colonial Boston out of “fear that they’d be persecuted” for objecting to high taxes. What actually happened was that “disguised men and others then went on board the tea-ships moored at Griffin’s Wharf, and in the course of three hours they emptied three hundred and forty-two chests of tea into the water of the harbor.” Apparently not all the tea partiers actually did wear disguises at all, but clearly the point of wearing disguises wasn’t generalized fear of public expression of dissent but specific fear that acts of vandalism were illegal. For all that’s changed in the subsequent 230 years, this aspect of American life is basically the same. People who want to protest peacefully do so freely, people who want to destroy other people’s property are more likely to wear masks.