"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, the day started out overcast, which always makes it hard for me to get started. And then one of the first stories I ran into this morning was this:

Renowned indigenous historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz explained this week that the Thanksgiving holiday was “never about honoring Native Americans” as many children are taught in U.S. schools.

In an interview with Democracy Now’s Nermeen Shaikh on Wednesday, Dunbar-Ortiz addressed misconceptions about the holiday.

“Actually, it’s never been about honoring Native Americans,” she remarked. “It’s been about the origin story of the United States, the beginning of genocide, dispossession and constant warfare from that time—actually, from 1607 in Jamestown—until the present. It’s a colonial system that was set up.”

It should only be that simple.

OK, by now we all know that the story of the first Thanksgiving we were taught in school was pretty much bogus. At this point, it's guesses for grabs what really happened, but I doubt it's as villainous as Dunbar-Ortiz makes it out to be.

Yes, Europeans have an appalling history vis-a-vis native peoples, not only in the Americas but everywhere else they wound up. (One of the great ironies of the fight over the Ugandan "Kill the gays" bill was the insistence in some quarters that practices that their pre-Colonial ancestors found perfectly acceptable were "not truly African." This while holding desperately on to the worst aspects of the Colonial regimes.)

But, to dig a little deeper, every society that practices agriculture has a harvest festival. Thanksgiving, although it comes a little later than most, is ours. It's gotten tied into a creation myth about the founding of the country -- one of many, as it happens -- but it's still basically a harvest festival.

So why can't we just be grateful for that?

(And, for a completely irreverent and off-the-wall aside, do you suppose that's why the white working class is, we're told, so afraid of undocumented immigrants? In light of what the first wave of undocumented immigrants did to those who were already here?)

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