Edited & Excerpted from Matt Tabbi's article:
“What is Thanksgiving to Indigenous People? ‘A Day of Mourning,’” writes USA Today. Meanwhile MSNBC reminds us, with regard to the now-infamous Pilgrims, that “Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence.”
Thanksgiving is here & as is the fashion, it’s taking a beating. America's intellectual culture has turned into an agonizing, apparently interminable run of performative self-flagellation and the historical self-mortification has gotten out of hand.
America is such a unique evil, we’re told, so much the standard-bearer for the oppression of innocent peoples everywhere, that human suffering before 1776 is hardly worth mentioning. Or before 1492, as it were, since a lot of the current fashion stems from our pseudo-intellectual class being unable suddenly to handle the revelations of one decades-old book.
In Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, our five hundred years of history contains just two characters, pure villains and pure victims. You’ve heard of Alien versus Predator; the People’s History could have been titled Hitlers and Baby Seals.
A People’s History after its release in 1980 was often described as “radical,” but the radicalism wasn’t in the subject matter, but its maniacal sorting of humanity into two simplistic piles. Decades before it was fashionable, Zinn sketched out an intersectional construct that flattened much of humanity into a single interconnected mass of one-dimensional victimhood, “centering” the matrix of America’s oppressed.
No matter how interesting a book he or she is able to write, any author who admits looking at the world and seeing only “victims and executioners” needs psychological help. Unfortunately, Zinn in this respect turned out to be a pioneer, presaging a generation of comic-book thinkers who understand things in binary terms, forever preoccupied with cramming people in neat categories of oppressors and oppressed.
Such mental habits are the fashion now and will definitely put you in a bind on Thanksgiving. How can I eat turkey and stuffing with a smile, when Columbus massacred the Arawaks? When the English forced the Wampanoags off their land and made many convert to Christianity? When Lincoln told Horace Greeley, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it”?
How? Maybe because you’re more than three years old, and don’t need fairy tales to be real in order to enjoy dinner with family and a football game?
We’ve lost touch with our real story, which is about us, not centuries-old adventures of revolutionary toffs in wigs heisting a continent from the British King. Almost none of us are related to Pilgrims or Founders. Nearly all of us descended from those subsequent waves of weirdos and refugees who came from all over, some not by choice, and forged the real character of our nation.
Many of our ancestors had their hands forced elsewhere, from Jews in the Pale fleeing pogroms to Irish escaping famines to Armenians running from Ottoman genocides. Once they got here, they happily planted flags on their front doors and set about inventing everything from cat litter to alternating current, while mostly refraining from murdering one another. It was an insane setup, but they made the whole thing work, which is a pretty amazing story even figuring in the horribleness, and really what we’re celebrating every November.
You have to reduce the American experience to a few ridiculously grim variables, and remove everything from movies to rock n’ roll to monster dunks, to spend today sulking. This holiday is about friends and family. Enjoy them today, don’t listen to the haters, and go Lions.
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