Uprisings in the Middle East Mirror Colonial Revolts

After discussing the revolts of the American colonies against the British government, I found many similarities between the colonial revolts and the recent anti-American uprisings in the Middle East. After an American video antagonizing the Islamic prophet Muhammad spread throughout the Middle East, mobs burned down American embassies,  killing American ambassadors and officers. I do not believe, however, that these revolts were simply because of this antagonizing video, but rather because of built up anger and resentment, similar to that of the American colonists. The colonists became increasingly angry as the British government imposed harsh acts controlling trade and taxes, which hurt colonial merchants. Particularly, the colonists did not feel as though they were being taxed fairly, given that the colonists were not properly represented in parliament. The Tea Act of 1773 permitted Britain’s East India Tea Company to export its tea directly to the colonies, bypassing taxes that were imposed on colonial merchants. This angered the colonists because it put their tea merchants out of business and was another piece of evidence that the colonists lacked control over their own colonies, increasing the desire for sovereignty from Britain. Although the colonists and British government believed in a constitution, an essay entitled “The American Revolution as a Constitutional Controversy” by R.B. Bernstein reveals that the colonists did not believe in a changing constitution and believed in a government that protects the people’s rights. Their ultimate revolt during the Boston Tea Party was the result of anger and resentment building up. This was similar to the Middle East uprisings in that their uprisings were because of their disagreement towards Western culture, resentment for the United States imposing a form of government on some countries, and that the video that reasoned the uprisings spread through media, as did the ideas for revolt in the colonial era did (pamphlets and taverns played a crucial role in spreading these ideas). These recent uprisings could have also been from built up anger as a result of American sanctions imposed on the Middle East oil industry, similar to the negative effects that the Tea Act had on the colonial tea industry.

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5 Responses to Uprisings in the Middle East Mirror Colonial Revolts

  1. Heather Milke says:

    I definitely think that our relationship with the Middle East is very different the colonists relationship with Britain, nevertheless there are definitely similarities between conflicts in the Middle East and the revolts of the American colonists. The relationships between the two countries are different in each conflict. Also, the problems have different origins, but violence or actions motivated by the conflicts both arose from, as Sarah said an accumulation of anger over time. Its also very interesting that the spread of the ideas (pamphlets then, social media now) are so similar. Despite the vast differences between the American Revolution and the Conflicts in the Middle East the spread and expression of the problems are amazingly comparable. A question that I have been thinking about that is related to this is why does it all happen so similarly? Sarah, I would love to hear what you think? Do many (or all) political revolutions or conflicts happen somewhat like this? I am not really sure what I even think about this, but I will be really interested to see what other political revolutions are like throughout history. I am sure there are differences in all of them, but I think that they will also have some of the similarities that we see between Middle Eastern conflict now and the colonial revolts of the American revolution. I think that with technological development throughout history revolution will definitely change. For example, from pamphlets to the internet. I might add more to this later as I think about it more, but I am wondering WHY do these two conflicts have so many similarities? And will other conflicts be the same, or vastly different?

    • Matthew Skolnick says:

      I agree with you Sarah in that the revolutions of the colonies is similar to the modern conflicts and revolts in the Middle East. I mean they both clearly sparked because of a disdain for a ruling figure they viewed as oppressive and this contempt gradually grew until the point where it could no longer be suppressed, and as a result and as an attempt to express their contempt uprisings began. It is because of this origin of hate that political revolutions occur; which sort of answers Heather’s question as to why they are similar. I mean the reason that the revolts are so common is that their point of origin derives from the same emotion, which is this feeling of dislike. I believe that all political revolutions are due to this burning feeling of being oppressed, and when oppression comes to the point where it can be no longer tolerated, the citizens are forced act. While all political conflicts have their differences, nevertheless the underlying cause for every political revolution is similar and thus the effect is similar.

  2. Graham says:

    Sarah, although there are similarities between the American Revolution, and the chaos in the Arab world, one major difference is that the colonists stood behind a united idea of freedom, an ambition which the Arab world lacks. Also, the protests in the middle east were not sparked by an oppressive government, such as that of England, but rather intolerance for the liberties and freedoms every individual has the right to in the United States, such as free speech. In order for a revolution to be considered successful, I believe that the people have to be unified behind one ideal lacking in the current regime.

  3. Casey says:

    Graham, I don’t understand how you can say that the revolts in the Middle East weren’t sparked by an oppressive government. The governments in the Middle East are the essence of what an oppressive government looks like. Free speech is not allowed, there is widespread censorship and government influence at every corner of those societies. We see how widespread the influence of terrorists is in the Middle East and that was definitely not as big of a problem for the English government. I don’t agree with Sarah that the two revolutions are similar but I also don’t agree with Graham about the way the revolutions are different. I think the Arab Spring was triggered by the built up frustration of the people in that region while the American revolution was triggered by a purposeful antagonist in the Brits.

  4. Graham says:

    Casey, there may be similarities between the Arab Spring and the American Revolution, but Sarah wasn’t talking about the Arab Spring, she was discussing the recent protests due to a video produced in the United States. “After discussing the revolts of the American colonies against the British government, I found many similarities between the colonial revolts and the recent anti-American uprisings in the Middle East. After an American video antagonizing the Islamic prophet Muhammad spread throughout the Middle East, mobs burned down American embassies, killing American ambassadors and officers.” Either way, both lack a unified end.

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