Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Turkey Lovers, Stuff This

At the “First Thanksgiving,” white folks were the
ones who showed up hungry and got help from
others. Have we been as generous to others on
our shores?

I happen to think that the real miracle of “first Thanksgiving” was that the Indians didn’t take a very dim view of those new, pale-looking folks just off the boat. After all, the pilgrims and, later, the puritans, were big buttinskis, arriving uninvited and bringing a host of poxes that would obliterate some native populations and decimate the rest.

And don’t forget succeeding waves of European immigration and its broken treaties and wars with their hosts. Imagine: there once were over 500 Indian tribes over our part of North America, from A to Z–Apache to Zuni–and now they comprise less than 1% of the population. Things only got worse when those quaint, fun folks we see on old Hallmark cards became fully genocidal toward the Indian. Talk about crime in your neighborhood!

That’s what I call Hallmark History–misleading representations of early colonial days from seasonal greeting cards whose creators care not a fig about real history, except of the revisionist sort, right down to the imaginary “buckles” on pilgrim hats, pants and shoes.

This means, a) we can forgive the natives for showing up without printed invitations to that first feast (at least they brought more than cheap wine), and b) we can stop ragging on latter-day “immigrants” who want no more than what whitey wanted when he floated onto these banks.
I like especially the story of the early settlers looking for grub after wading ashore, and finding an abandoned village–evacuated precisely because of their sudden appearance–whereupon they found the Indians’ store of corn and confiscated it for their own use. Why? Because they were hungry, and we don’t fault them for that, given that hunger pangs trump etiquette every time.

Amazing it is that in a short time the natives proffered appropriate seed and showed  the colonists how to plant and later harvest on their new continent. This of course is before all hell broke loose (see above).

Today we have not only an unfriendly view of people who show up hungry, whether at our doors or on our shores, but our Monroe Doctrine mentality means third parties can’t make a move, without our permission, clear down through South America (another continent, but who’s counting) to the tip of the Cape of Good Hope. From pesky squatters to mean landlords, that’s us. Ain’t freedom grand?

We’ve come to where our peaceful little Pilgrim Way is to deny jobs and health care to migrants, raid their places of employment, throw them in jail or hope that, better yet, they just go back home. We went so far, as recently mentioned in this space, to build a Berlin Wall on our own southern border when the one in Germany came down. How’s that for irony? And all migrants do is show up hungry but they encounter less generous lessors. Is that what education’s done for us?

Now, why should I complain? Why not just yell, “I’ve got mine, so pull up the ladder,” deem others unlucky by dint of place and birth, and declare the Law of Tooth and Claw–“everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost”?

Actually, I don’t like being free when others aren’t; there’s something that just isn’t fair about that. Oh, I hear snickering in the background, from a gaggle of well-to-do who are spending their stimulus money snorting fine scotch in a classy bar (migrants not welcome); problem is, they don’t know that  overdrinking there or in a sleazy tavern means you’re just as drunk.
Another problem is standing in church and singing words from James Russell Lowell (one of America’s early “household poets”) in a Bach harmony:
All whose boast it is that we
come from parents brave and free,
if there breathe on earth a slave
are we truly free and brave?
If we do not feel the chain
when it works another’s pain,
are we not base slaves indeed,
slaves unwilling to be freed?

And of course we bandy about words ascribed to pastor Martin Niemoller about how certain Europeans silently allowed Nazis to come after every other minority until there was no one left to speak up for white Christians, and the Church in Germany became Hitler’s lackey.
That’s what’s troubling about our Declaration, the Constitution, and all our high-flown rhetoric, whether sacred or secular: their painful truths are the solvent of who we really are, what we live by and what we  force on others.

That’s why our Thanksgiving turkey can be a tough old bird to stomach.

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