Thursday, November 22, 2007

The end of American Thanksgivings: A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

An article appearing in The Black Commentator magazine is clearly written from the viewpoint of downtrodden Black people exposing a 'four centuries-old abomination' and the White Supremacy being celebrated in the Thanksgiving observation. '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.'

An interesting factoid is the myth of Europeans settling in a 'New World' as if nobody was living here and the land was widely available to simply settle here. The truth is that this land was filled with native peoples, and that the Europeans conducted decade after decade of warfare against the native people in order to 'settle' here. But the Black Commentator article quotes: '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."' and that the Thanksgiving feast celebration in the early 1600's was about their luck that the native peoples had somehow disappeared prior to the settling of this land by the Pilgrims.

The truth seems to be that the Plymouth Company of England hired Captain John Smith (the same Smith who had led the first successful English Colony at Jamestown) to do exploration of other land. One technique used by these explorers was to distribute 'Smallpox Blankets'. The Europeans were immune to Smallpox but it being an old world disease the native peoples did not have this immunity. In this way they spread Smallpox to the native peoples and the disease did the work of wiping them out without having to conduct warfare. 'smallpox would effectively wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans... From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north.... 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."'

The article keeps going with more discussion and details. It is worthwhile recognizing the author of that article is clearly embedded in the worldview of centuries of suppression of the Black People, the African Americans. Just as he points at the Thanksgiving Myth at being embedded in the worldview that White European Americans praise truth and honesty and carry a myth of American cultural morality, we all have a form of blinders on our perception of truth based on our cultural heritage.

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