King George and Barack Obama

MY lovely wife is a smart analyst of things essential. Whereas I’ll read multiple pieces from economists, historians, politicians, scientists, and businesspeople – the sum of which will lead me to conclusions with which to form opinions, my wife will observe the behaviors of friends and family or be reading something I seldom touch – a novel – and arrive at conclusions weeks before me. It’s the whole inductive (her) v. deductive (my) reasoning thing.

She started reading a novel several weeks back and, as we lay in bed, she’d communicate passages she found fascinating in their parallels for today. That novel is Celia Garth: a Story of Charleston in the Revolution. I believe she was turned onto it by a friend who’d read it several times as a youth. Here’s a brief synopsis from a reviewer on Amazon.com:

In Celia Garth, we follow the life of a 20 year old seamstress. Celia goes back and forth between a Charleston townhouse and a plantation on the outskirts of town, and we receive a look at what it was like to live during the Revolution. The book ties in many historically documented facts including Francis Marion and his men, the British bombardment of Charleston, the siege of Charleston, British atrocities to plantations, the rebel spy network, actual battles and many famous military leaders. It is fascinating to read how Charlestonians were forced by Patriot troops to give up all their food supplies (except for rice), causing townsfolk to starve. Life was definitely not easy.

Something else my wife noted to me was how King George effectively bought the allegiance of Charlestonians, in part with threats of confiscation of property and destruction of their livelihood. These people, the Torys, were unable to openly revolt, as they were established: they had families, children, businesses. My wife noted the parallels today with the spread of socialism: how the established are effectively being bought-off through the fear of what will happen if they do not go along.

In Celia Garth, it was the single people – particularly the unmarried and unestablished men – who could actively revolt. Such is why is was very encouraging to see so many young people (upwards of 5000) at the recent CPAC gathering. These are our potential revolutionaries.

So back to my wife’s reading this book. She was on to something. I happened across an essay this morning titled If You Liked King George, You’ll Love Barack Obama. The author goes into the history of the Stamp Act and other efforts of the King George III government to control the flow of information in the Colonies. He then describes the current threats to the free flow of information via the “Fairness Doctrine” and the principle of “localism” and community review boards.

So, where is there a whiff of the tactics of King George in these modern actions? President Obama has announced that he opposes the reestablishment of the “Fairness” Doctrine. He has made no public statement on the other two ways of controlling the new media, especially talk radio. There are good reasons to believe that President Obama supports one or both of these other routes.

Both would censor the broadcast media who criticize the government the same way that King George sought to censor print media, by threatening their licenses to operate. That’s the clear and dangerous parallel between 1776 and 2009.

But if there are too many Americans who don’t know who King George was and what he did to control “his” colonies in North America, we are in even deeper trouble than just restriction of free speech on talk radio.

My wife was on to something alright. It’s called history. I’ll let you know when she spots our Tom Paine.

Note: cross-posted at TIFI.net