Thursday, November 26, 2009

...flightless birds

Hello. It is easy to capture a flightless bird. On this day in 1637 the first official "Day of Thanksgiving" was proclaimed by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay colony, who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men. On this day in 1789 a national Thanksgiving Day was observed in the United States on the recommendation of then President George Washington and approved by Congress. Then, on this day in 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States. According to Thanksgiving mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, and the Indians promptly faded into the background, everyone living happily ever after.

The truth is a sharp contrast to that mythology. The pilgrims are glorified and mythologised because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were too questionable to hold up as an effective national myth. Many turned to cannibalism in order to survive. Also,the pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus "discovered" anything. Every inch of this land was Indian land. The pilgrims did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture. They "introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores."
One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod - before they even made it to Plymouth , was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians' winter provisions of corn, beans, and wheat as they were able to carry. They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which "thankfully" we got rid of in 1995.
It is easy to capture a flightless bird. I am thankful for the roof over my head, the health of my friends, family and housemates, the ability to earn a livelihood and the many, many gifts that I have been blessed with and continue to be blessed with over the years. I take none of it for granted. Have a great day and for those who celebrate, have a nice Thanksgiving Dinner however you decide to spend it... and always strive to do what is right.
"My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor."
Phyllis Diller