BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – It was a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday. The weather was perfect – brisk and sunny…
It recalled a Thanksgiving of long ago…
We were working with our uncle, “getting up” firewood. Our crew included the two of us and a black tenant farmer, Joe. We stopped for a drink at the pump. Joe pumped up the water. We held up the tin, filled it, and passed it to him.
Joe pointed to our uncle. The custom then was for whites to drink first.
But trees grow… and rules and customs evolve.
This Year’s Thanksgiving Project
This year, the house was full. We typically have children, grandchildren, and visitors joining us.
And we typically find a “project” that keeps them busy before we sit down to dinner. In the past, these have mostly focused on barn repair. One year, we put on a new roof. Another, we shored up a foundation.
The physical work – especially for those who aren’t used to it – prepares the group for evening meals, calm reflection, and early bedtimes. It also helps us solve maintenance issues at the farm.
This year, we decided to “get up” some firewood. We rented a large splitter. And we went at it for three days – with one son, one son-in-law, and one grandson.
By Saturday, our pants were ripped… our fingernails were broken… and we were prepared for an Ice Age.
“Getting up” the firewood
Yes, it was a nice Thanksgiving. A warm fire… a grandchild’s giggles… pumpkin pie – what more could you ask for?
But it was an odd one. For this year, the cause of celebration was suspect.
We were told, for example, that the world would be a better place if Christopher Columbus had never “discovered” America… the Pilgrims had never landed at Plymouth Rock… or Squanto had cut their throats as soon as they got off the Mayflower.
Myths can be dangerous – especially those developed by people with an axe to grind. If they decide that they are a superior race, or that they have a mission to conquer the world… or spread Islam… or Democracy… they are headed for trouble.
When we were children, scarcely anyone questioned the dominant Thanksgiving myth. We were Americans, and damned proud of it.
Did we handle the Indians roughly? Maybe… But that was just the price of progress. Did we keep blacks in shackles? Yes, but we saw the error of our ways… and paid for it dearly, with nearly a million white, Civil War deaths.
And while slavery was no picnic, it would have been a vast lifestyle upgrade for the million or so killed in the English conquest of Ireland…
…the 55 million “indigenous peoples” who died after European diseases arrived in the New World…
(Footnote: The term “Indian” was a mistake; the Spanish explorers thought they were in the East Indies. And “indigenous people” is a lie; everyone knows they were immigrants, too, not indigenous to the Americas)…
…the 40,000 who were killed in the French Revolution…
…or the hundreds of millions who died in the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union’s wars, purges, and gulags, Mao’s communist revolution, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
“You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs,” say the world improvers.
And as bad as slavery was, the slave owner had a keen interest in keeping his slaves from getting cracked. They were valuable property.
That was the Thanksgiving zeitgeist of the 1950s and 1960s…
We were unapologetic, glad to be alive… and glad to be Americans.
We remembered the young tree of liberty, too, so vigorous and straight… and expected to continue our upward growth – with more wealth and more freedom – as long as we lived.
We suspected, too, that the “whites drink first” custom would soon be history… And we were happy to see it go.
Even as late as the end of the 20th century, a large majority of Americans believed themselves to be a light unto the world… an “exceptional” people, with a unique position in world history.
“We stand tall and see farther” than other peoples, said then secretary of state Madeleine Albright in 1998.
But as the tree grew… the creed bent… and the successful tribe over-reached.
Today, American troops are all over the planet; but the U.S. has not won a real war since 1945.
Millions are targeted by U.S. sanctions, but foreigners still won’t do as they are told..
Trillions of dollars of fake money are printed and spent, leaving us $29 trillion in debt and with only one way to pay for it – print more money.
Day of Mourning
Now, the tree is gnarled and old. It has become a nest for scoundrels, martinets, and race baiters.
And this Thanksgiving, we were told to hang our heads in shame… take the knee… and beat our chests, simply for being who we are.
“We” – presumably, anyone with a majority European ancestry – almost exterminated the indigenous people… got rich on slave labor… and are working hard to destroy Planet Earth.
It was like having a huge, rotten tree limb hanging over our heads. We were urged to hang black crepe on the windows and lay the whip on our own backs.
We white men have a lot to answer for; we are all racists and cads… climate change deniers and vaccine resistors.
USA Today reminded us that it was a “Day of Mourning.” MSNBC told us that the Pilgrims “brought genocide and violence” to the New World.
What Matters Most
And now, the macro aggressions of the past are forgotten. The suffering of generations – before the settling of America – counts for nothing.
Nor are the millions of murders and government-caused starvations outside of U.S. borders, committed in the name of the prevailing myth, worthy of mention.
According to the press, public life today goes no deeper than yesterday’s news… filtered through a sour, narrow funnel of race, gender, viruses, and climate change.
The rest is mere obiter dicta.
And yet, it is still “the rest” – stacks of firewood, win-win deals, and passing the cup – that really matter.
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