A history of Thanksgiving?

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Thanksgiving—Historical Truth or PC Myth?

The Left seems determined to destroy our country in Congress, the courts and classrooms. Of those venues, they’ve probably made the greatest gains in our educational system through indoctrination. Anti-Americans are convincing our youth that the history books are lies and “they” have the real truth. Of course, that means that “they” must rewrite our history, declaring all white Europeans were villains that came to this hemisphere for pre-meditated massacres of the indigenous peoples to steal their lands. Later, those of “white privilege” also imported black slaves. This storyline promotes the minority ethnic groups are “victims” whom the Left must dominate for the “abusers” to buy forgiveness (reparations) from their ill-gotten wealth. And the Left gets to rewrite history for their gain.

Eighth graders in Portland, Oregon heard this definition of Thanksgiving… “a celebration of the genocide of the Indians by greedy capitalist Europeans.”

Activists do not only attend Ivy League schools or universities in southern California. Students at Macalester College (a Christian college according to a headline) called Thanksgiving an “unethical” holiday, just like Columbus Day and Christmas break. For those students, Thanksgiving is about violence and oppression.

Several of the 2020 Democrat candidates for the presidency have advocated paying reparations for all the misdeeds of those “white” evildoers committed against their “victims.” If liberals consider the Indians so pathetic, why do sports teams claim Indian names? Why are military armaments named after Indians? Yes, the Left is trying to remove those identities as well. Progressives need the downtrodden to depend on them for survival and provide liberal elitists with power and control.

Many parents assume that teachers are educated persons dedicated to imparting knowledge to the next generation. Yes, BUT… The parents are often too busy to examine the curriculum of the schools that their children attend. Liberals have the opportunity to rewrite history texts that are eagerly printed and distributed by ultra-left publishing companies that are also responsible for mentoring states in writing their teacher licensure exams. The Left have written the tests and determined the “right” answers for the current group of modern teachers.

One goal is to unteach the myth of Thanksgiving. Young learners are eager to learn. Young adults are eager to prove themselves smarter than their parents. The harvest field is ripe.

At Salt River Elementary and Puente de Hozho schools in Arizona, students learn of the traditions of the Native Americans, with emphasis on their identity as indigenous people, harvest and giving thanks. They don’t learn about the Pilgrims. The article stresses the liberal bias with this comment: “Teaching the myth of Thanksgiving is not required in the Arizona state standards for history and social studies. It depends on whether the teachers choose to include it in their lesson plans or the schools’ curriculum includes it.” Thanksgiving is only included in the kindergarten and first-grade lessons along with other holidays, not as a part of the history of this great country.

At first blush, the emphasis on identity and traditions of an ethnic group could be considered commendable until one realizes that requests for recognition of holidays and contributions of other immigrant groups who came and enriched our culture are denied. The response usually follows an argument along these lines. “No, those immigrants came long ago and assimilated into this culture. They have no culture in this country. Those from northern Europe did not add to the history of this country.” (paraphrase and summary to me in academic settings by professional educators)

That is offensive. Liberals are quick to point out that this country is a nation built by immigrants but select which immigrant groups are worthy of recognition—certainly not those of “white privilege” from northern Europe. Others, yes. And, now some claim that the Native Americans have always occupied this land. Apparently, they now refute the arrival of immigrants via the Bering Strait centuries ago. The modern version also has all indigenous groups living in perfect harmony with one another and nature. Truth or myth? History lessons or indoctrination?

Just as the Left refuses to acknowledge Christmas or even utter the word, they are also attempting to change Thanksgiving to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

History professor and author David J. Silverman wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that summarizes the anti-American view of Thanksgiving.

“Contrary to the Thanksgiving myth, the Pilgrim-Wampanoag encounter was no first-contact meeting. Rather, it followed a string of bloody episodes since 1524 in which European explorers seized coastal Wampanoags to be sold into overseas slavery or to be trained as interpreters and guides.

“In 1616, a European ship conveyed an epidemic disease to the Wampanoags that over the next three years took a staggering toll on their population…

“The challenges are undoubtedly stark. The Native American past and present tend to make white people uncomfortable because they turn patriotic histories and heroes inside out and loosen claims on morality, authority and justice. They threaten to tear down monuments and rename buildings. But confronting the dark history of colonialism in Indian country also promises to shed light, cultivate national humility and, most important, signal to Native people that the country values them.” (an aside: What is the new name for Lake Calhoun in Minnesota?)

In his book, This Land is Their Land, Silverman explains the myth.

“The myth is that friendly Indians, unidentified by tribe, welcome the Pilgrims to America, teach them how to live in this new place, sit down to dinner with them and then disappear. They hand off America to white people so they can create a great nation dedicated to liberty, opportunity and Christianity for the rest of the world to profit. That’s the story—it’s about Native people conceding to colonialism. It’s bloodless and in many ways an extension of the ideology of Manifest Destiny.”

“One is that history doesn’t begin for Native people until Europeans arrive. People had been in the Americas for at least 12,000 years and according to some Native traditions, since the beginning of time.

“In 1769, a group of pilgrim descendants who lived in Plymouth felt like their cultural authority was slipping away as New England became less relevant within the colonies and the early republic and wanted to boost tourism. So, they started to plant the seeds of this idea that the pilgrims were the fathers of America.

“It gained purchase in the late 19th century, when there was an enormous amount of anxiety and agitation over immigration. The white Protestant stock of the United States was widely unhappy about the influx of European Catholics and Jews and wanted to assert its cultural authority over these newcomers. How better to do that than to create this national founding myth around the Pilgrims and the Indians inviting them to take over the land?”

History.com provides a timeline related to celebrating historical events to give thanksgiving. One paragraph contradicts the previous statements.

“Archival evidence is slim, but according to a letter from Plymouth colonist Edward Winslow, dated December 11, 1621, the colonists wanted to celebrate their first good crop of corn and barley grown with generous assistance from the native Wampanoag Indians.”

Edward Winslow, one who had been instrumental in organizing the journey to America and one of the men who signed the Mayflower Compact, wrote his historic account of that celebration in 1621.

“Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

Melanie Kirkpatrick, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the author of “Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience,” also focuses on the positive relationship between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. But her statements vary dramatically from the previous exposé.

“…what most consider the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in October 1621 after the pilgrims’ first harvest. The feast lasted for three days and included games and all-around good cheer. It was attended by 90 Wampanoag warriors and 53 Pilgrims, according to Pilgrim Edward Winslow’s account.

“It’s unclear whether the Wampanoag were expected to be there or even invited – although they did bring enough venison to feed the entire party for three days. It’s also likely that this was (at least in the beginning) a tense interaction. The Native Americans were all male warriors. They outnumbered the Pilgrims nearly 2:1, and many of the Pilgrims included women and children, who were not trained for battle.

“Nevertheless, the two groups gathered and gave thanks for the bounty of the harvest, and the rich natural resources of this American continent. There was plenty for which to be thankful. The Pilgrims and Wampanoag had settled on a peace treaty – and the English newcomers had survived the winter largely because the natives had shown them how to plant corn, where to fish, and how to survive in the environment…”

While there was much to be thankful for at that gathering, it was not called “Thanksgiving.”

Although arguments, both historical and liberal, abound, this article highlights some of the salient views of both sides. No, I am not ready to embrace statements about the Englishmen who traveled in a small ship across the Atlantic with their families to exploit the Indians and to teach their women and children how to massacre the savages. I am convinced that those Pilgrims faced an intolerable tyrant in England and were willing to risk all in pursuit of religious freedoms and a better life. I am not convinced that the Indigenous Peoples inhabited North America from the beginning of time and lived in harmony with all other tribes and were committed environmentalists. I believe that there were honorable and courageous Pilgrims and Indians who worked together to live in peaceful harmony—a harmony that was broken by corrupt persons in both societies.

I pray humbly and fervently that stability and unity once again are a reality in this nation blessed by our Almighty Creator.

Happy Thanksgiving—Thanks be to God, to the Pilgrims, to the compassionate Native Americans and for the generations that have worked to make this a great nation.

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