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No More American Thanksgivings

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Fiction of the First Thanksgiving 1621
(image by wikipedia)
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Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of "the founders" as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year -- a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We at are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity's deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie -- if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the "flaw" in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events -- subsequently revised -- were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise -- Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously -- an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two.

The last Act in the American drama must be the "root and branch" eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two -- America's seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated -- that is, as a national political event -- is an affront to civilization.

Celebrating the unspeakable

White America embraced Thanksgiving because a majority of that population glories in the fruits, if not the unpleasant details, of genocide and slavery and feels, on the whole, good about their heritage: a cornucopia of privilege and national power. Children are taught to identify with the good fortune of the Pilgrims. It does not much matter that the Native American and African holocausts that flowed from the feast at Plymouth are hidden from the children's version of the story -- kids learn soon enough that Indians were made scarce and Africans became enslaved. But they will also never forget the core message of the holiday: that the Pilgrims were good people, who could not have purposely set such evil in motion. Just as the first Thanksgivings marked the consolidation of the English toehold in what became the United States, the core ideological content of the holiday serves to validate all that has since occurred on these shores -- a national consecration of the unspeakable, a balm and benediction for the victors, a blessing of the fruits of murder and kidnapping, and an implicit obligation to continue the seamless historical project in the present day.

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The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human. Most importantly, the Pilgrims are depicted as victims -- of harsh weather and their own naïve yet wholesome visions of a new beginning. In light of this carefully nurtured fable, whatever happened to the Indians, from Plymouth to California and beyond, in the aftermath of the 1621 dinner must be considered a mistake, the result of misunderstandings -- at worst, a series of lamentable tragedies. The story provides the essential first frame of the American saga. It is unalloyed racist propaganda, a tale that endures because it served the purposes of a succession of the Pilgrims' political heirs, in much the same way that Nazi-enhanced mythology of a glorious Aryan/German past advanced another murderous, expansionist mission.

Thanksgiving is quite dangerous -- as were the Pilgrims.

Rejoicing in a cemetery

The English settlers, their ostensibly religious venture backed by a trading company, were glad to discover that they had landed in a virtual cemetery in 1620. Corn still sprouted in the abandoned fields of the Wampanoags, but only a remnant of the local population remained around the fabled Rock. In a letter to England, Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop wrote, "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection."

Ever diligent to claim their own advantages as God's will, the Pilgrims thanked their deity for having "pursued" the Indians to mass death. However, it was not divine intervention that wiped out most of the natives around the village of Patuxet but, most likely, smallpox-embedded blankets planted during an English visit or slave raid. Six years before the Pilgrim landing, a ship sailed into Patuxet's harbor, captained by none other than the famous seaman and mercenary soldier John Smith, former leader of the first successful English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia. Epidemic and slavery followed in his wake, as Debra Glidden described in IMDiversity.com:

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In 1614 the Plymouth Company of England, a joint stock company, hired Captain John Smith to explore land in its behalf. Along what is now the coast of Massachusetts in the territory of the Wampanoag, Smith visited the town of Patuxet according to "The Colonial Horizon," a 1969 book edited by William Goetzinan. Smith renamed the town Plymouth in honor of his employers, but the Wampanoag who inhabited the town continued to call it Patuxet.

The following year Captain Hunt, an English slave trader, arrived at Patuxet. It was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them into slavery for 220 shillings apiece. That practice was described in a 1622 account of happenings entitled "A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia," written by Edward Waterhouse. True to the explorer tradition, Hunt kidnapped a number of Wampanoags to sell into slavery.

Another common practice among European explorers was to give "smallpox blankets" to the Indians. Since smallpox was unknown on this continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans did not have any natural immunity to the disease so smallpox would effectively wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans. William Fenton describes how Europeans decimated Native American villages in his 1957 work "American Indian and White relations to 1830." From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north. The Wampanoag lost 70 percent of their population to the epidemic and the Massachusetts lost 90 percent.

Most of the Wampanoag had died from the smallpox epidemic so when the Pilgrims arrived they found well-cleared fields which they claimed for their own. A Puritan colonist, quoted by Harvard University's Perry Miller, praised the plague that had wiped out the Indians for it was "the wonderful preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by his providence for his people's abode in the Western world."

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Glen Ford is aveteran of Black radio, television, print and Internet news and commentary. He is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com and was co-founder of BlackCommentator.com.


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