On the drive up to Cleveland for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday I listened to a great slate podcast about the secularization of Thanksgiving.

Funny stuff, indeed.

And here I was just thinking this was just a nice, american holiday where people get together with their families. No miracle births or special candles. Just a nice meal and some football.

But it turns out there is actually A War on Thanksgiving!! Who knew?

Former Family Research Council president Gary Bauer claims the
“cherished observance” of Thanksgiving is “under fire” by “left-wing political correctness”.

Even the nut jobs over at WorldNetDaily have jumped on board, offering these Christian-themed Thanksgiving bumperstickers:

w0002.jpg

It turns out this crap isn’t new. In 2004, Yale professor David Gelernter wrote a Wall Street Journal essay about Thanksgiving calling it “A Very Christian Holiday”- claiming “Christian fundamentalists” created the holiday. ( Actually, dude, it was Abe Lincoln at the end of the civil war- who took the advice of Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and magazine editor.)

He argues in favor of the First Thanksgiving myth- the story of Christian pilgrims in 1621 thanking God with solemn religious services.

It’s a nice story- but it just isn’t true. Historians actually believe the “event was closer to a harvest festival, with its feasting, games, and celebratory gunfire, it was the shooting that likely brought the colonist’s native Wampanoag neighbors over to investigate and join in the fun.”

Now THAT’S my kind of Thanksgiving!

 
  • Yeah, I have no idea why we’d teach children the truth about history and spare them the fairy tales. While the Pilgrims probably did give thanks to God before the meal (any meal really), they most surely did thank the “Native Americans” – why wouldn’t we call them this instead of “Indians”? They were, in fact, in North America and nowhere near India. Perpetuating ignorance seems to be a common thread among Christofascists. There actually was no record of any prayers at this first “Thanksgiving” – a term later used to describe this fall of survival.

    If we were to teach kids the real history, we’d tell them that this particular year saw the Pilgrim population get down to around 50 and their survival was very much in question. Their crop had failed miserably while the Wampanoag tribe, who often had brought food to what can only be called North America’s first welfare recipients, had a bumper crop due to their superior agricultural abilities. These were also not a holy lot wearing black hats with buckles, but most likely a drunken lot who consumed around a half gallon of “beere” a day – something they liked more than even water. Their governor William Bradford even commented once about their notorious sin, drunkenness and uncleanliness, and rampant sodomy.

    This myth of “share and share alike” that we teach kids is also a myth. It’s a good lesson, but not one we can learn from these early Pilgrims. We should learn it from those we teach are “savages” and “scalpers”. The leader of the tribe, Massasoit, was the one invited and in their tradition of equal sharing by all invited some 90 of his tribe. The natives most likely both brought and prepared all of the food. No turkey or cranberry anything. A true Thanksgiving meal would include venison, duck, geese, and of course corn. The natives brought 5 deer.

    It’s uncertain whether the shooting drew the natives to the fun or if the Pilgrims began firing in a drunken intimidating way and ended the party.

    One thing is most certain. The modern portrayal of this event and the continued use of it by the far right religious zealots is most certainly wrong.

    We’d do good to teach our kids about these early peoples, but I’m not so sure we should focus on the Pilgrim side.

    …and I won’t even go into the irony of this current crop of Christofascists using the story of those wanting to escape the dominion of an organized central state church for their desire to create a theocracy here in the U.S.

  • Wow. Just read all of Bauer’s screed: “The letter goes on to tell the teachers that for many Native Americans Thanksgiving is seen as a “time of mourning” and “a reminder of 500 years of betrayal.” To which I reply, “Pass the stuffing!””

    What a fuckwit. Do some reading dipshit.

  • Well- not everyone has forgotten.

    From Time Magazine

    pilgrms.jpg

    Thanksgiving-day travelers at the Okalahoma City airport.

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