Marquette Warrior: Marquette Professor Compares George Floyd Rioting to Boston Tea Party

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Marquette Professor Compares George Floyd Rioting to Boston Tea Party

Cedric Burrows is Assistant Professor of English at Marquette, and he recently talked to Channel 4 about words people are allowed, and not allowed to use.

The headline: “Responding to Inequalities: Common words or phrases with racist history.”

As is usual with the politically correct, often the words do not in fact have a racist history, but are inconvenient for people on the left.


Take, for example, “rioting.” Burrows explained to Channel 4:
He hopes the current events can be an example for change. Those who may label protests as riots are giving a negative connotation to what’s happening. He compares it to the Boston Tea Party being referred to as a rebellion; or good triumphing over evil. “When I hear that, it’s like, I hear that history,” Burrows said. “They may not realize it, but that’s when I have to explain to them the dynamics behind it. Because they thinker’s a matter of me being too stiff or formal. I say this is my background.”
So was the rioting and looting in the wake of the death of George Floyd at all like the Boston Tea Party?
The destruction of the tea was a very costly blow to the British. Besides the destruction of the tea, historical accounts record no damage was done to any of the three ships, the crew or any other items onboard the ships except for one broken padlock. The padlock was the personal property of one of the ships’ captains and was promptly replaced the next day by the Patriots. Great care was taken by the Sons of Liberty to avoid the destruction of personal property – save for the cargo of British East India Company tea. Nothing was stolen or looted from the ships, not even the tea. One participant tried to steal some tea but was reprimanded and stopped. The Sons of Liberty were very careful about how the action was carried out and made sure nothing besides the tea was damaged. After the destruction of the tea, the participants swept the decks of the ships clean, and anything that was moved was put back in its proper place. The crews of the ships attested to the fact there had been no damage to any of the ships except for the destruction of their cargoes of tea.
Is what you see in this video really like what was done in Boston Harbor?

Are we to suppose this woman views the looting in the wake of the George Floyd death as like the Boston Tea Party?

According to the Journal-Sentinel:
Katherine Mahmoud is furious about George Floyd’s death — but she’s also angry at those who destroyed her family’s Milwaukee cellphone shop as protests escalated early Saturday morning.

“If you really care deeply in your heart ... (protest) in silence, go to the courts,” she said.

She was awakened in the early hours by a phone call from the alarm company. Not knowing what to expect, she drove from her home in Oak Creek to her family’s Boost Mobile store on North King Jr. Drive in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood.

The windows were smashed, the merchandise all gone.
She complained: “I look just like them.”

Why would she think they cared?


“Thug” is a word Burrows wants silenced, as he explains:
Thug - “People harken back to how it may sound and they remember how people were explicitly saying the N-word so it evokes a particular memory of society and how it was more blatantly racist than it is now.”
This statement is not entirely coherent, but he seems to be saying people think of black people when they hear “thug.” But Webster’s merely defines “thug” as:
: a brutal ruffian or assassin : GANGSTER, TOUGH
But if people do associate “thug” with black people why is that? Could it be that there have been riots over a number of high-profile black thugs like Michael Brown and (yes) George Floyd — although nothing Floyd did justified his killing by the cop.

Could it have something to do with the fact that blacks, 13% of the population, commit 48.4% of all homicides in the U.S.?

Click on image to enlarge
In reality, before the upsurge of black crime in the 60s, almost nobody would have associated the word with black people. Most likely, they would have said a mafia hit man was the paradigmatic thug.

Of course, in 2015, Barack Obama called rioters in Baltimore “criminals and thugs.”

Honesty in Language

The great proponent of the use of honest language was, of course, George Orwell, whose 1984 described a regime in which words could mean their exact opposite, if it served the interests of the regime.

In his essay on “Politics and the English Language” he gives some examples of the use of dishonest language.
Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
While freely conceding that the Soviet régime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigours which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.
Thus rioting and looting become “protests” or “demonstrations.”

People wanting to defund the police are said to be concerned with “racial justice.”

People tearing down statues are supposedly demanding that “America come to terms with its racist past.”

People who use, and insist other people use, dishonest language must be assumed to have a dishonest agenda. They simply can’t defend their positions using straightforward English, so they demand that words be used in a way that obfuscates the reality. Dishonest thinking demands dishonest language, which promotes more dishonest thinking.

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