Sam Dickson, The Occidental Quarterly, November 26, 2009
There are many “true stories” of Thanksgiving from the point of view of those who wish to deconstruct the civic pieties of liberal America in addition to the one in Mr. Hunter Wallace’s little feature.
One of them that I have heard pointed out since childhood is that modern Thanksgiving was created by Lincoln as a day for the North to give thanks over the success of the invasion and desolation of the South by the ilks of Sherman. This “let’s rejoice over our success in killing other white people for the benefit of non-whites” holiday was grafted onto the Plymouth Colony’s Thanksgiving in American iconography and has ever since crowded out any memory of the real first Thanksgiving which took place in Virginia and which — unlike the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving — did not feature a brotherhood dinner shared by Indians and whites.
But this parochial Southern debunking of American Thanksgiving pieties is a digression from the point I want to make in commenting on Mr. Wallace’s essay.
I have recently been reading a very interesting book by National Book Award winning historian Nathaniel Philbrick entitled Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. It has left me with a much greater admiration for the New England Puritans and has effaced some of my Southern-bred contempt for them.
This book is an account of the Pilgrims’ settlement at Plymouth in 1620 and the subsequent English colonization of Massachusetts down through the end of King Phillip’s War in 1679. (King Phillip’s War was a New England wide attack by Indian tribes upon the young settlements. It was set off by the sachem of the Pokanoket Tribe who was called “King Phillip” by the colonists who were amused that he ranked himself as the equal of King Charles II.
Since this is a modern book, it has to genuflect to all the usual liberal totems but it is not too bad and is a trove of interesting information.
In reading Mayflower I was disappointed to learn just how racially “open-minded” the Puritans were. In his little essay Mr. Wallace says, “The Puritans didn’t believe in multiculturalism, political correctness, or human rights. They didn’t believe the Pequot Indians were ‘Native Americans.’ They obviously didn’t believe the Indians they exterminated, enslaved, and/or ethnically cleansed from New England were entitled to the ‘inalienable rights’ of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Obviously, he is correct that they did not believe in this exact lingo which — as Mr. Wallace correctly points out — was introduced centuries later.
But they weren’t as “racist” as we would like, and they bore no resemblance to the image created by the minority vendors of the hate-whitey propaganda with their claims of the Puritans sending out blankets ridden with smallpox virus so as to exterminate the Indians and so on.
I was very surprised to learn that the Squanto story is actually true. It is set out in Governor Bradford’s eyewitness account. The Puritans did need Squanto’s help and advice after all, contrary to my skepticism which I once expressed in an old speech which now leaves me somewhat embarrassed. They were mostly city folk and not accustomed to farming. They also had the misfortune of landing at one of the worst possible sites for their new colony — a place offering only farmland of exceptionally poor quality even for rocky New England. They had to plant their crops on unterraced hills. Squanto knew how to bank the soil around the plants and lace it with fish so that the crops would grow even in this thin topsoil that eroded quickly.
The Pilgrims did in fact invite the Indians to their Thanksgiving feast.
It gets worse from there.
The Puritans already had in mind the conversion and “social uplift” of the Indians. When the inevitable initial armed encounters erupted, they got a scolding letter from their clergyman leader back in the Old World telling them they needed to attend to the conversion and salvation of the Indians. The learned divine was unimpressed with the Pilgrims’ claims that they were innocent victims of Indian attacks and was convinced that whitey was somehow to blame.
And the Puritan colonists pursued the theological and civilizing mission of the Anglo-Saxons with significant success. Villages of what were called “Praying Indians” were set up replete with churches. And most of these Praying Indians remained loyal to the English in King Phillip’s War and betrayed their fellow red men by serving as scouts, spies, etc. for the white invaders.
There was much conflict among the English about the Praying Indians, with some of the colonists saying all the Indians should be gotten rid of and others strongly defending and protecting the Indians. This division among the whites significantly impaired their organized collective response to the colony-wide Indian insurrection. Philbrick recounts glowingly the statements and moves of the pro-Indian colonists and clucks over the evil and vile racism of their opponents who wanted just to clear the Indians out in toto.
In the very infancy of the country we see that whites were already bending over backwards to cater to non-whites. One incident approvingly recounted by Philbrick is particularly revealing: a white man killed an Indian in what Philbrick says was a robbery of the Indian by the white. The two men encountered each other in the countryside. Philbrick alleges without particularly impressive evidence that the white man was just a robber, but the claims of several people to have witnessed the encounter seem pretty weak, and I did not see any strong proof that they were actually present in the immediate vicinity of the encounter.
The white man claimed he killed the Indian in self-defense.
The English tried him for murder. In obedience to their Anglo-Saxon precedents a jury of 12 white men were empaneled to hear the case along with 6 Indians chosen as kind of alternate jurors to consult with the whites and to give their input!
The jurors listened to what seems to have been somewhat ambiguous evidence and unanimously found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and hanged him for killing the Indian!
It is possible to use this information to try to deprogram guilt-ridden whites by showing that the fashionable accounts of evil white racism back in the Bay Colony are a pack of lies. I did this 3 days ago at the Decatur DeKalb YMCA. An American Indian was holding forth to an abashed, shamefaced circle of young university whites about the racist nature of Thanksgiving, and how put upon he and other Indians felt about white people celebrating Thanksgiving. I don’t know how much I shook the faith of the young whites in the cultural Bolshevism they had been taught. They fell silent and adopted flat affect while the Indian and I talked. . . or rather while I attempted to have a civil conversation and the Indian foamed at the mouth. (He really went through the roof when I recounted the jury trial and conviction story and asked him if the Cherokees had ever afforded this kind of kindness when they came to Georgia and exterminated their predecessors the Mound Builders.)
But this tactic — helpful as it is in the immediate circumstance of a debate in the Nautilus room at the Y – obscures the deeply disturbing greater story here.
It appears that the roots of white self-loathing and suicidal behavior run very, very deep. It is pleasant to believe that self-destructive liberal-left white behavior is something very recent but, alas, it seems to predate Coming of Age in Samoa and The American Dilemma by many, many centuries.