Independence Day affords every American the opportunity to grill, reflect on the history of the nation and, state law permitting, set things on fire. Families spill out of houses to eat pie on porches or in yards while remembering the achievements of their forefathers; those ordinary men who rallied together in a unified stand against tyranny, injustice and the oppressing forces of that mother ship that blew up the White House.
Call me a bigot but I still hate those aliens.
Despite the intergalactic triumph which made this three-day weekend possible, the United States doesn’t have an outstanding track record with revolutions. The standard procedure for unsuccessful rebellions is to sweep them under the rug of history in order to avoid humiliation. But some of these insurgencies are such colossal failures that they refuse to go away. The following are five astoundingly bad revolts of all sizes, from attempts to overthrow government to university building occupations. I’ve provided them as helpful lessons on what to avoid if you ever build your own insurgency.
#5. NYU Food Court OccupationLesson: Kids don’t know shit
In February of 2009, a group of politically minded and painfully optimistic university students occupied the NYU food court with a list of demands as convoluted as they were absurd. The demands ranged from a complete record of University expenditures including teacher and administration salaries to an in depth investigation of all war and genocide profiteers in Palestine. For anyone unfamiliar with geopolitics, that’s the equivalent of a child holding his breath until a parent is willing to free Tibet.
Source: Tim Pierce
“And amnesty for the incarcerated, asshole.”
The students brought cameras to the revolt in anticipation, and possibly even hope that they would be forcibly removed from the food court by police. Unfortunately, the video they captured does nothing but reveal how ill prepared, self-entitled and ridiculous they were. At one point the videographer attempts to chase down an apathetic campus safety officer while screaming, “Do not use brutality!”
This video does more detriment to future protests than the invention of rubber bullets.
#4. Margot Fonteyn’s Panama CoupLesson: Don’t invite celebrities to your revolution
Technically this revolt happened in a U.S territory but with the recent surge in American celebrities meddling with world affairs, the lesson is valuable. In 1959, Fidel Castro and Roberto Arias, the son of a former Panamanian president, secretly plotted to overthrow the Panamanian government. The problem was that Arias brought his wife.
“Watch this, Roberto. Watch me. Watch me, Roberto. Are you watching?”
World famous ballerina, Margot Fonteyn fell in love with the romance of the insurgency and candidly told all her friends about it, both in person and in letters. She explained how they would use her yacht to transport soldiers and guns or to decoy government boats away from the operation. Now, given the exhilaration she was feeling it’s possible that she could be forgiven for telling her friends about the secret plot, as long as one of these friends wasn’t the British Foreign Office minister, which he was.
“You see this face, Margot? You are making it sad.”
The trouble with celebrities is that they hang out with celebrities. Foreign Office minister John Profumo told UK officials about the secret plot right around the time the whole coup spontaneously collapsed. It’s not clear how much of the blame for its failure rests squarely on the shoulders of Margot Fonteyn, suffice it to say she was as useless as a goddamn ballerina in a political uprising.
#3. The Business PlotLesson: Run a background check on co-conspirators
During 1933 as the New Deal was ostensibly pulling the U.S. out of the Great Depression, the leaders of two corporate empires decided, “Fuck that.” FDR’s plan had the power to redistribute the wealth to the American working class which threatened the livelihood of the elite. The solution? Overthrow FDR and instate a fascist regime that protected the monetary interests of the business community.
It was working so well in other parts of the world.The Business Plot was designed to force FDR to step down as president and instate a Secretary of General Affairs in his place. They enlisted the help of decorated war hero, General Smedley Butler to rally the WWI veterans to help the regime change, but they somehow forgot to ensure that he was a supporter of their cause. Butler was an adamant backer of FDR. Butler destroyed the coup by going public but surprisingly none of the heads of any of the companies involved lost their jobs in the aftermath, despite the catastrophic possibilities that would have followed if the revolt had worked. In fact, very little changed except the CIA found a helpful trick for dealing with foreign interests.
Surely the plan for a fascist regime could work somewhere.
#2. Hutaree Christian Militia PlanLesson: Ugh, don’t… don’t do what you just did
Middle America is known for its wholesome values, its running game and its ability to breed militant religious fanaticism. In March of 2010 (note: no longer college football season) a Christian militia in Michigan prepared for a battle against the Antichrist by trying to kill some cops. The group known as Hutaree plotted to kill an officer, then bomb his funeral in order to instigate a nation-wide uprising against the government. The silver lining to this ignorant, religiously fervent cloud is that the group was arrested before their plan could be executed. During questioning it was clear the group didn’t have a strong sense of how fighting the Antichrist and killing local law enforcement was connected. That sound you just heard was the entire country and God facepalming.
Ice T: Fighting the Antichrist since 1992.
#1. Second Rise of the SouthLesson: No Do-Overs
Rather than just an isolated incident, the entire movement shaped by Confederate secession has been one long humiliating failure throughout the past century. Lately, the Internet has been responsible for resurgence along the rebel front. There are hundreds of sites, groups, and stores dedicated to the cause, but none of them seem to realize that America has no patience for sequels about revolutions.
Websites like The New Federalist perpetuate the belief that there are enough like-minded people ready to make a second revolution possible, but a quick look at the home page reveals that victory in this war will not be dependent on web design or a fundamental understanding of language. A yellow box at the top warns: “This Web site contains material which may cause thinking.” It also features posts that can only be described as angry-casual. Gems like:
SOME SURPRISING FACTS ABUT THE CONFEDERACY
SO HOW DID WE GET SUCH AN INTRUSIVE GOVERNMENT? THANK LINCOLN
It’s almost heartwarming to see their tenacity as over a hundred years’ worth of sore losers insist the rebellion isn’t over and that the South still has a legitimate shot at seceding. Meanwhile the rest of the country looks on with pity as this benign creature pretends it’s still dangerous.
Possibly as a choking hazard.