History In The Hands Of The Ignorant

I saw a news item earlier this week. Supposedly a Hollywood star came out saying she hates the US holiday of Thanksgiving (the Los Angeles Times published a rebuttal article calling into question Fox’s motivation and journalism for drawing their information from popeater.com, though the Times fails to mention that sites like the The Huffington Post also carried the story).

The story, generated by second-hand reports, explains that this star is boycotting Thanksgiving because she doesn’t want to be a part of rewriting history or commemorating “what the white settlers did to the native Indians.”

I’d like to rail a little against this one ignorant woman, except yesterday, before I took off for my family get-together, I saw something eerily similar from someone in my Facebook network.

YIKES! šŸ˜® How gullible are we? Because some actress supposedly says this, we rush out and start parroting the sentiments ascribed to her?

Detail from Brownscombe's First Thanksgiving at Plymouth

Never mind that there are primary historical documentsā€”journals by the pilgrims who actually celebrated that holiday, such as Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford and Mourt’s Relation by Edward Winslow and othersā€”that make it clear Thanksgiving has nothing to do with any of the activity that forced the native Americans off their land.

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.
Wikipedia

In what way would a gathering that included on average two Indians for every pilgrim settler be reprehensible? Especially when the settlers were thanking God for His provisionā€”not merely for the food, but for the Indians who taught them how to survive.

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims reaped a bountiful harvest. To thank God for their deliverance and the help they had received from the Indians, Bradford held a three-day Thanksgiving feast inviting the Indians to join them in their celebration.
“Strangers, Saints and Indians” by John A. Murray, Wall Street Journal

For the next fifty years, the pilgrims and the neighboring native people groups lived in harmony. And Thanksgiving feasts took place in response to the blessings they enjoyed. Not every year, but with more and more frequency.

So who actually is “rewriting history”?

Certainly not the people who are reading the original source material. And not those of us who celebrate God’s goodness, as the pilgrims didā€”recognizing that God’s hand preserves and protects and provides.

Think about it. What were the odds that a native American, fluent in English, would “happen” upon this colony of pilgrims so in need of help?

But I’m getting sidetracked.

This well-documented story certainly can be interpreted from a number of angles (for example, by focusing on the English speaking native Americans, by looking at the political developments within the colony, by exploring the relationships of the various native people groups with each other), but it cannot be painted as the beginning of hostilities, pilgrims with Indians.

At least as long as we’re not rewriting history.

And as long as ordinary people don’t start parroting the ideas of others who have not done any actual scholarship.

The whole thing is made more ludicrous by the idea that the news article quoting unknown friends might not be factual. So someone repeats the idea that Thanksgiving is celebrating murder because an online news source said Anonymous said Star Actress said she’s boycotting Thanksgiving for a reason without any basis in fact.

Are we so ignorant that in this Age of Communication, people will believe something so easy to debunk? The sad part is that believing it turns into repeating it, which soon hardens into rewritten history.

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6 Comments

  1. One of the big problems is that modern liberal minds try to understand and interpret history through today’s eyes and knowledge.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  2. Amen! The attack on Thanksgiving is a defamation of history by ignorant people/willful fools.

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  3. IT WOULD BE KILLING HISTORY ….YES IF ONE WOULD WISH TO FORGET THAT BLACK MOSES WAS NEVER THERE OR EVEN MARTIN LUTHER KING NEVER EVER TALKED OF HIS I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH.TRULY ALL AMERICANS HAVE SOMETHING WORTH THANKSGIVING WITHOUT WATERING THE RICH HISTORY THEY HOLD .THE HISTORY ON BLACKS TELLS MORE. SIMON K. MUREU ,KENYA

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  4. WE here in kenya started cerebrating Thanks giving yesterday. I was blessed to have been invited to sunday service and met with friends I have not met during the last Ten years. IT was a joyful moment; thanksgiving should be a heart feeling giving glory to our loving GOD.SIMON K,MUREU.KENYA

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  5. Lee is right. Liberals like to look at history through the lens of today. As a person who has a master’s degree in history, I get so weary of trying to correct them.

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  6. Thanks for all your comments. I agree with Lee, too. I’ve had some discussions with atheists before who are especially perturbed about the Bible’s position on slavery. No matter how I try to shed the light of history on the subject, they can only think of what slavery has come to mean, not what it meant back then.

    I guess the thing that bothers me so much about this revision of Thanksgiving is that it shows a clear biasā€”everything the European settlers did when they came to America was exploitive. I think that is doubly heinous because it also casts the native people groups as nothing more than victims. In fact, in the Thanksgiving story they are heroes, instruments of God, ambassadors that allowed the new arrivals to achieve peace with their neighbors. It’s a great story, ruined by the rewriting.

    And if we don’t keep passing down the real story to the next generation, it will become lost, I fear.

    Becky

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