Djcnor’s Weblog

Tea and Protestry

Posted on: March 28, 2009

The G20 meetings are coming to London, and so are the protesters. Naturally, the protesters have planned a number of events, among them a giant monopoly game, a march ending at Hyde Park (of course), an Onion type fake issue of the Financial Times on the traditional pink paper, a tent city, fake money and many more. It makes me nostalgic for the week of the GOP convention in New York City in 2004.

However, there is one event with a description that sent me into howls of laughter. When you live in a culture not your own, there are certain idiocentricities that are intrinsic to the way of life of the natives that have outsiders shaking their heads baffled. In Poland, one of those things was their custom of creating patches of ice  to serve as fun short-cuts on the sidewalks. To a balance-challenged outsider like me, these patches were booby traps.

Anyhow, here’s the description of the event:

“The Meltdown group’s most talked-about event is slated for April 1, as summit delegates trickle into the capital ahead of the meeting the next day. Thousands of demonstrators were expected to converge on the Bank of England, led by anti-globalization’s take on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – a red horse against war, a green horse against climate change, a silver horse against financial crimes, and a black horse against homelessness.

“With any luck April 1 at the bank will be a revival of all the best part of the original 90s anti-capitalist movement,” Mark Barrett, the group’s spokesman, said in an e-mail.”

And here’s the part that sent me off:

“Participants are being urged to come in costume and (this is Britain, after all) bring tea. Barrett added that the protest would be nonviolent – “a picnic, not a riot.”

Everybody knows about Britain and tea. But nobody really knows just how deeply tea seeps into British bones until they actually live here. Just as I could solemnly swear that Krakovians, no matter how worldly, believe in the dragon under the castle who has kept their city safe for centuries while other cities of Poland were flattened over and over, I could solemnly swear that Brits of all classes and backgrounds believe that any problem this world offers can be successfully cured with tea.

This being so, on reading the passage above, I could not help summoning up a picture of the most radical protesters gathered in a smoky room plotting deep deep plots when someone heavily tatooed and pierced says in a deep rough voice  and an extremely serious tone “We’ve setting out to solve some major problems. We’re going to need a lot of tea.”

All of this being the case, it get’s even more hilarious to read about American protests, with entirely different aims, to be held on April 15.

These protesters are not happy with Barrack Obama’s stimulus package, calling it “pork”, in a twist of the original meaning which is money spent in a way that benefits only a specific small group. It bothers me to see words that trail negative connotations and associations twisted away from its original literal meaning, but perhaps that  comes from spending too much time in the presence of Brits who do really care about the precise use of the language.

Anyhow, the inspiration for these Tea Parties is, of course, the Boston Tea Party in which American colonists threw tea into the bay in protest of having to pay taxes (on tea) imposed by the British Parliament in which they had no representation. Yes, I know these protesters happen to be well represented in the American Congress, so the analogy is by no means exact. And yes, I know they will be drinking tea rather than throwing it away. A part of me even expects them to get it even more mixed up and wear huge hats, and face card and  Alice costumes.

In any case, isn’t it interesting to see tea such an integral part of two very separate protests. Are there more out there? Is there a conspiracy of tea merchants? Should we start worrying about them rather than the evil bankers? And what is it about using tea in protests that gets the authorities in such uproars?


2 Responses to "Tea and Protestry"

Tea Party gear can be found at

I hesitate to allow the bolg to be used for someone’s commercial purposes. But since it’s relevant to at least part of the subject at hand, I’ll allow it. Don’t take this for approval of the cause. In my opinion, it’s much more important to make sure you get maximum benefit from your taxes, as the people of countries like Denmark do. There’s a reason why they are the happiest people in the world even paying three times the taxes Americans pay. They just get so much for those taxes that contribute to their quality of life.

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