by Mike Stenhouse
On the same day that the historic Gaspee Days parade proceeded in its annual march down Narragansett Parkway and Broad Street in Warwick and Cranston, the Providence Journal deigned to publish on Saturday a hit piece on the observance of an event that many Rhode Islanders believe was the “unofficial start of the American Revolution; a revolution that advanced freedom, not just here in the Americas, but over the centuries and across the globe.
Having grown up just yards from the official parade route in Cranston, the patriotic Gaspee Days parade is a celebration of America’s true birthright of freedom. Yet, Cranston resident and author of this inane hit piece, Lance Eaton, sees Gaspee Days as more proof of America as an oppressive nation.
Would you be surprised to know that Mr. Eaton is an educator, who himself, is obviously yet another hate-America person of influence who is seeking to influence students and society with teachings of a warped and inaccurate view of American history?
Earlier this year, the RI Department of Indoctrination (Education), enacted new social studies standards that continuously and falsely paint America’s founding as that of white supremacist oppressors seeking to oppress people of color. In looking at all of American history through an anti-Christian and radical racial lens, Mr. Eaton and RIDE are too blind and woke to understand that America’s noble constitutional establishment and pursuit of independence and liberty, as imperfect as it often has been, is indeed something to honor and celebrate.
Such freedom has led to levels of prosperity never before enjoyed by any people throughout the entire world’s history.
The misguided and laughable column below by Mr. Eaton is a perfect example of the the extremists in our state’s educational system who are attempting to indoctrinate K-12 and college students with divisive critical race theories and to turn them against their own country.
As I have oftentimes stated, until we can re-unite behind our founding and uniting principles of “love of country” and “trust in God”, America will continue to be a divided nation. Lance Eaton should be ashamed for his anti-American rhetoric.
originally published June 10 in the Providence Journal
Parade delivers another lesson on colonizing
Mark Twain’s quote ‘History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes’ can be seen alive and well on Narragansett Parkway in Warwick this week. On June 10, Pawtuxet Village holds its annual Gaspee Days Parade to celebrate British colonists torching a British ship because a British customs officer was overly aggressive in claiming illicit property.
In the following years, those colonists, too, would aggressively claim property that wasn’t theirs in one of history’s greatest land grabs, the American Revolution. After all, what else would you call it when tenants claim they own the land they had been renting? And, of course, that ignores that much of the lands were acquired through the theft or murder of Indigenous peoples. In the following century, the descendants of those torch-wielding colonists in their quest for more ‘freedom’ would strip lands and rights from the Narragansetts, the very people for whom the parkway is named.
Beyond the evident connection of an annual celebration of one’s freedom that proves integral to the oppression of others, there is one other fascinating element that connects Twain’s observation to the Gaspee Days Parade.
Chairs have gradually appeared along the parkway’s sidewalks. First a few, and by the middle of this week, nearly a hundred (mostly plastic) chairs sat unoccupied. Many chairs were tied or chained down as if they were going to up and run away, while others were wrapped in caution tape — like lingering evidence in a crime scene. In other spots, rope or caution tape was just looped around trees and posts, closing off a section. It’s quite the sight to see all the empty chairs at night. It’s as if spirits are attending some spectral parade to which we aren’t privy.
So what’s happening here? Well, the local residents are claiming property that is not theirs (i.e., the green patch of sidewalks both in front of their house and other spots are public property) so they can enjoy front-row seats to the parade and doing so in a way to preclude people whom they think do not belong there. These others who don’t live there, at best, deserve the back-row seats.
It’s strange to think, but those chairs represent an assertion of power — the right to claim space that doesn’t belong to you. After all, what would happen if someone came along and occupied those abandoned chairs, destroyed them, or replaced them with their own chairs? It’s hard not to imagine that the next course of action would entail confrontation, some pseudo-legal claim of property (though abandoned on public property), or force (individually or through enlisting the police).
Ultimately, these folks’ rationalization of their right to claim public property would boil down to a mixture of ‘because it’s there’ and ‘because I can.’
To watch this scene play out year after year, one cannot help but think that even in rituals such as parades, our legacy of colonialism and right by assertion or force looms large in our psyche. As a microcosm of the American legacy, it raises lots of questions about when some people’s freedom comes at the cost or threat to other people’s freedom.
Lance Eaton is an educator and writer in Cranston.