F-k the Bird!

November 27, 2008

Mark Twain hit the real bird squarely on the truth’s head:

  • “Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for — annually, not oftener — if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.
    Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.

wounded knee

(Illustration of Wounded Knee found here).

Americana as revisionist history.
Thanksgiving has got to be one of the most horribly-ironic holidays on record.
Stuff your faces you fat-ass somofabitches!
As football, full-blown feasts and fancy napping are the pure chance of a goodly-chunk of US peoples today, there should be some notice of shame.
Not!
Most people nowadays are shamed of their wallets.

Journalism professor Robert Jensen offered this up three years ago and the essay was re-posted this morning on AlterNet.
Some choice morsels:

  • One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

    One vehicle for taming history is various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of U.S. myth-building. From an early age, we Americans hear a story about the hardy Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Wampanoag Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast in 1621 following the Pilgrims’ first winter.
    Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough.
    But it’s also true that by 1637, Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders.
    The pattern would repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated and the rest were left to assimilate into white society or die off on reservations, out of the view of polite society.

    The first president, George Washington, in 1783 said he preferred buying Indians’ land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving “wild beasts” from the forest. He compared Indians to wolves, “both being beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.”
    Thomas Jefferson — president No. 3 and author of the Declaration of Independence, which refers to Indians as the “merciless Indian Savages” — was known to romanticize Indians and their culture, but that didn’t stop him in 1807 from writing to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, “[W]e shall destroy all of them.”

    In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who “settled” the country — and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things.
    But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable — such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States — suddenly the value of history drops precipitously, and one is asked, “Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?”

Read the whole essay, if you dare.
And to Mr. Obama I say, ‘Fuck the Bird,’ the false past is the false American Dream.

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