More On: Pilgrims
On the 400th Anniversary of the First (and Most Expensive) Thanksgiving, Mansour: The Pilgrims' Progress - Honoring Our Forefathers
Thanksgiving Isn't About 'Genocide And Violence' No, Thanksgiving Isn't About 'Genocide And Violence'
'Genocide' was not brought to America by the Pilgrims. They barely made it through the first winter, with half of their party dying in 1620-21.
We've supposedly changed our ways. Ethnic insults that were formerly prevalent have vanished into the depths of dive bars and even further into the depths of anti-social media. We live in an era where a whole new admonition lexicon has sprung up to warn people away from anything even racist. "Cultural appropriation" is forbidden, as is the word "taboo," which was borrowed from the Tongans and adapted into English by Captain James Cook.Stereotypes, microaggressions, unconscious prejudice, normativity, neo-colonialism, and the "othering" of others are all issues that we are concerned about. We must surely be more educated than those terrible, imperialist, hate-filled, white, heteronormative folks who... Oops.
Ethnic insults have not vanished. They've merely moved to a different register. Although black lives are important, do "all lives matter?" Those are combative words. After all, attacking someone else is a typical technique of displaying group allegiance, claiming group dominance, and policing the margins.
Gyasi Ross, a Blackfeet (Native American) author (Huffington Post, Gawker, and Indian Country Today) attorney, “rapper, speaker and storyteller,” explained on MSNBC the other day, speaking of the Mayflower Pilgrims, “Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence.” Speaking of Thanksgiving, Ross adds, “That genocide and violence is still on the menu.”
If take this as an attempt to right the historical record, it is hopeless. The Pilgrims didn’t bring “genocide” to America. They barely brought themselves, with half of their company dying that first winter, in 1620-21.
For that matter, genocide was already here among native peoples, who frequently fought wars of extermination against rival tribes. The archaeological record testifies to such events, and Europeans had little to teach the native peoples they encountered anything about ambush, torture, and the death penalty.Ross, on the other hand, has done a very excellent job demonstrating his knowledge of vituperative insult directed against persons from tribes other than his own. His argument is that "white people" have a Thanksgiving "mythology" in which the Pilgrims are shown as "bringing something of tremendous value that benefits the people who are already here." The Pilgrims, on the other hand, were "broke" and "brought nothing of worth."
That, however, was not the viewpoint of the Wampanoag, with whom the white settlers of Plymouth celebrated the first Thanksgiving feast in the fall of 1621. The Wampanoag first of all saw the Pilgrims as a valuable ally against their enemies, the Narragansett, who appeared ready to attack.They struck a treaty with the settlers that lasted for 50 years without interruption. In order to obtain access to European manufactured products, the Wampanoag actively engaged the settlers in commerce. Furthermore, the Pilgrims brought Christianity, which drew a considerable number of Indian converts within a century.
Granted, Ross may dismiss all of this as "nothing of value," but who is Ross to judge the judgments of 17th-century Native Americans who were driven to desperation by a sickness that killed the majority of their tribe—a disease that had spread across New England years before the Pilgrims arrived?
The real truth is that Ross has a niche in contemporary American life that has nothing to do with his ancestry or culture. It is the niche of a professional angertainer. It plays well on TV and other media because, after all, articulate displays of anger are indeed entertaining, and also because we need some comic relief dressed up as indignation. This isn’t always or necessarily bad: Let’s go, Brandon!
But humped-up anger is pretty much all the leftist media have to offer us these days. Real arguments grounded in facts are in short supply for the Bidenized left, but sneers presented as if they reveal hidden realities can still energize the base. After all, Nicole Hannah-Jones has just conjured a 600-page book out of her imaginary version of the American past. Condensed version: white men caused every harm, every misery, every injustice inflicted on black people from 1619 to today. Ross has the advantage of brevity.The Mayflower Pilgrims also brought a few more objects that Ross had overlooked. They instilled religious tolerance as a value and a way of life. The Mayflower Compact ensured that all of the immigrants, only about half of whom were Pilgrims, would be free to profess their own religious beliefs. (The Puritans, who arrived later and inhabited Massachusetts Bay, were not particularly tolerant.)
There was one additional thing that the Plymouth settlers had: democratic self-government. Plymouth eventually became the model for New England towns and, from there, for English colonization throughout the country.Today's left professes to abhor colonialism and sees nothing but usurpation of people and environmental catastrophe as a result. Given that the left often wants the eradication of national boundaries, this is a little unusual.
I'm not sure if it relates to Ross's situation. He could wish to retain (or perhaps enlarge) the boundaries of the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. The loss of territory, independence, and other indignities suffered by Native Americans were seen by many as a tragic fate.However, history is a complicated subject. Some Native Americans welcomed Western culture; others sought a synthesis of tradition and the West; and yet others, like as Ross, discovered spaces within the Western tradition where accusation and rage constituted a new type of currency.
In that way, disliking Thanksgiving has become a ritual, similar to hating Columbus. Some individuals watch the Macy's Parade, while others watch sports, while others enjoy the return of family, while yet others send God real thanksgiving prayers. Some even make up stories about genocide and bloodshed.