A Reprise Post: Thanks Giving

(A repeat post from 2018. I don’t know if I posted it anywhere but the original milblog.)

You just know, as surely as the sun rises in the east, that when Thanksgiving Day rolls around (and Columbus Day as well) the usual malignant scolds will be hard at work, planting turds in the harvest-festival punchbowl. They have become pinch-faced, joyless neo-Puritans, ruthlessly seeking out any hint of happy celebration and thankfulness for bounty of harvest and generous fortune, jumping on any display of human fellow-feeling – even just having a pleasant time doing things that make the heart glad – insisting that such occasions and people are to be condemned as earnestly as Savonarola ever did, piling up works of art to be burnt in the public square. As HL Menken observed, “It’s the haunting fear of such people, that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” It is their grim, chosen, killjoy duty to stamp out such emotions and celebrations, wherever they may be found. So sayeth the current crop of student activists: “Thanksgiving is a celebration of the ongoing genocide against native peoples and cultures across the globe!”

Which is a breathlessly sweeping condemnation. Let’s just pound it in relentlessly, with trip-hammer insistence: We actual or spiritual descendants of Pilgrims are Bad, Bad People, Who Stole Everything From the Indians, and Celebrating Thanksgiving is As Bad as the Holocaust, Almost!

The 20th century practice of allowing elementary school children to dress up as Indians or Pilgrims these days, reenacting a peaceful feast and celebration of a bountiful harvest together seems in the eyes of the censorious to be about on par with dressing up as SS officers and concentration camp inmates. Never mind that dumping on the poor Pilgrims for three hundred years and a bit of warfare with various Indians rather misses the point of – you know, celebrating a bountiful harvest – as well as grandly oversimplifying history. Never mind the fact that Indians in North America warred on each other with keen enjoyment and no little inventive brutality for centuries. Never mind that according to some accounts, the Wampanoag village and fields adjacent to the Plymouth colony were abandoned, as an epidemic of some kind had depopulated the place two or three years previously. And never mind …

Oh, never mind. Isn’t it more nuanced – or is nuance out of style among the ill-educated inhabitants of the educational-industrial complex – to consider that on that long ago Thanksgiving, two very different peoples, whose descendants would be at each other’s throats for three hundred years, were yet able to join together for a great feast, to be courteous and friendly with each other, for at least a little while?

Can we not settle at table with friends and relations, and simply enjoy a good meal, and appreciate those blessings which we have received, deserved or no? At the very least, can we just smile gently at the censorious scolds and ask them to pass the cranberry relish?

Have a happy Thanksgiving Day. Tell the scolds to get bent. Be happy and have another slice of pumpkin pie – that will annoy them more than anything.

4 thoughts on “A Reprise Post: Thanks Giving”

  1. My only complaint is your reference to “neo-puritans” at the beginning, rather ironic in light of the lauding of their celebration. They get a bad rap, as you note accurately later. The comity of the two peoples was even greater than you note. From 1620-1675 they largely lived in peace – while to the immediate west native tribes were forever at war and back in Britain there was the English Civil War (never mind the Continent. Treaty of Westphalia anyone?) The particular tribes and the particular settlers got along as well as ever differing people have. The New England natives died of our diseases, and more by each other’s hands than ours.

    They died of our diseases in one of history’s cruelest inadvertent tragedies. The most extreme estimate I have seen is that there were 100 million New World Natives*, of whom over 90 million died of diseases, many of which advanced on them before they had ever seen a European face. When the shoe was on the other foot, when Europeans were dying of African diseases, they simply avoided going beyond the coast, or even only islands offshore. But without knowledge of germ theory…

    *Not the 5 million I was taught in school in the ’60s. Though I think 30 million is a more likely number for the two continents.

  2. “Thanksgiving is a celebration of the ongoing genocide against native peoples and cultures across the globe!”

    How dare they accuse me of such?

    I will have them know I have no interest in genocide against Indigenous white peoples of Eurasia like the Sami, for one. I’m well disposed to them.

    I am disinterestedly sympathetic to the many indigenes of Africa still enduring lingering genocides at the hands of more recent fellow-African arrivals in their regions.

    I am as satisfied that the genocide of North American aboriginals, the bulk of which was achieved by disease without any actual effort or program by Europeans, and was therefore not actual genocide, the rest of which quite marginal and coincident with land theft, and also lacked the exterminationist impulse that is supposed to define genocide, has at any rate long stopped and need not be resumed. It has not been carried on in the lifetimes of anyone now living, and then some.

  3. Orwell said ‘somethings are so stupid, only intellectuals can believe them, so Prince Phillips war happened 50 years later,

    the notion he had posited was the US was an occupying army that would topple the labor government or something as ridiculous,

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