I saw a news item some years ago. 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 failed to mention that sites like the Huffington Post also carried the story).
The “news event,” generated by second-hand reports, explained that this star was boycotting Thanksgiving because she didn’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 I saw something eerily similar from someone in my Facebook network.
YIKES! 😮 How gullible are we? Because some actress supposedly says this horrible thing about Thanksgiving, we rush out and start parroting the sentiments ascribed to her?
Never mind that there are primary historical documents—journals by the pilgrims who actually celebrated that holiday, such as Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford and Mourt’s Relation by Edward Winslow and others—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.
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 provision—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 did—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 the rich and famous who have not done any actual scholarship.
The whole thing is made more ludicrous by the idea that the news article quoting unknown friends of the said Famous Actress might not be factual. So someone repeats the idea that Thanksgiving is celebrating murder because an online news source printed the story that this 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.