Our Beloved Thanksgiving Day Celebration
Where the Thanksgiving story typically ends, America's crime against humanity begins.

Thanksgiving is a traditional, national, American holiday that goes back to a time before the founding of the United States. It celebrates the early 17th century landing of English pilgrims in North America.

The pilgrims, persecuted for their radical religious views by British society, had fled the British Isles in search of a new home. When they landed at their largely unintended destination, they found only wilderness. As they had exhausted their supplies during the long journey and had no time to plant and harvest crops before the coming winter, they faced starvation.

The local residents whom the pilgrims mistakenly called Indians befriended these pilgrims and provided them with food and clothing so that they could survive the harsh winter. The Indians were a good people, but their level of technology was vastly inferior to that of their cold, hungry, unexpected, and frightened guests. The pilgrims survived the winter and gave thanks. This is where the story stops for many . . . .

After several years, some of the pilgrims returned to their native England, where they found more pilgrims eager to sail to North America. What followed was unrelenting agricultural development and massive destruction of the forests on which the Indians depended for their economic livelihood. In order to defend their way of life against the ungrateful pilgrims, the Indians offered important resistance. Taking advantage of their technological superiority these "new Americans " readily overcame this resistance and began driving the Indians ever further inland. Today very few Indians remain.  Some 10,000,000 native American inhabitants had been eliminated -- a crime against humanity of enormous proportions.

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State in the second Bush Administration, once remarked that the United States was born with a birth defect.  This remark was apparently made in defense of Senator Barack H. Obama's speech on racism presented during his bid to become the Democratic candidate for the 2008 US presidential election.  Secretary of State Rice's remark was truly on the mark, because the institution of slavery is an inherent part of the United States Constitution, and President Obama's opposition was not about to let the USAmerican public forget that Senator Obama is racially off-color.  In fact, treatment of the issues surrounding slavery appears no less than three times in the US Constitution -- this, despite the complete absence of the word slavery in the original document:

  • Article 1 - The Legislative Branch, Section 2 - the House
    This is the so-called 3/5 Rule.  According to this rule a slave was counted as 3/5 of a free citizen in each
  • Article 1, - The Legislative Branch, Section 9 - Limits on Congress
    In effect, the federal government was banned from interfering in the slave trade "the important of . . . person" of the individual states
  • Article IV - the States, Section 2 - State Citizens, Extradition
    This clause, often referred to as the fugitive slave clause, insured that one state could not serve as a sanctuary for run-away slaves of another state.

What both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President-elect Barack H. Obama failed to mention was another important group of people who fell neither into the category of imported citizen (slave), nor into the category of free citizen (European American)-- namely, native Americans.  In fact, if you were an Indian who was not taxed, you were simply ignored.  As history would soon demonstrate, being ignored meant not only that you were not counted, but that you would soon be eliminated.  This historical took place until long after the  close of USAmerica's Civil War, become known as Manifest Destiny.  

The important difference between the Indians and slaves was their relationship to the land that they occupied.  As human chattels, either purchased or stolen in West Africa, America's slaves had no inherent claim to the land that they cultivated on behalf of their masters.  As aliens to both the land that they cultivated and the society that compelled them to do so, they also offered no real threat to Europe's new Americans.  In contrast, the Indians were the rightful owners of the land that they occupied and with which they were intimately familiar.  As a result, they posed a very real threat to anyone who chose to take it from them by force. 

Because of their technological inferiority, however, the Indians were no match for Europe's new American renegades and opportunists.  As a result, the Indians were butchered, slaughtered, and driven from their land incrementally over a span of some two hundred years. Indeed, in the eyes of these new Americans any land occupied by an Indian was free for the taking, the only cost incurred was that of removing the land's native occupants and cultivating the land that became yours as the result of your effort.  Indeed, removing the Indians was often applauded as an act of patriotism and a way of bearing witness to one's God.

Fortunately, not all Americans found the pillage of America's forests and the genocide of native Americans patriotic  Unfortunately, they were vastly outnumbered by those steeped in the colonial ambitions of their European forefathers.  Consider for example, a letter written to Henry Clay in 1837 by a Unitarian minister named William E. Channing:

"Did this country know itself, or were it disposed to profit by self-knowledge, it would feel the necessity of laying an immediate curb on its passion for extended territory.... We are a restless people, prone to encroachment, impatient of the ordinary laws of progress... We boast of our rapid growth, forgetting that, throughout nature, noble growths are slow..... It is full time that we should lay on ourselves serious, resolute restraint. Possessed of a domain, vast enough for the growth of ages, it is time for us to stop in the career of acquisition and conquest. Already endangered by our greatness, we cannot advance without imminent peril to our institutions, union, prosperity, virtue, and peace..... It is sometimes said, that nations are swayed by laws, as unfailing as those which govern matter; that they have their destinies; that their character and position carry them forward irresistibly to their goal; ... that ... the Indians have melted before the white man, and the mixed, degraded race of Mexico must melt before the Anglo-Saxon. Away with this vile sophistry! There is no necessity for crime. There is no fate to justify rapacious nations, any more than to justify gamblers and robbers, in plunder. We boast of the progress of society, and this progress consists in the substitution of reason and moral principle for the sway of brute force....We talk of accomplishing our destiny. So did the late conqueror of Europe; and destiny consigned him to a lonely rock in the ocean, the prey of ambition which destroyed no peace but his own."

Schlesinger Blum, Jr. et al. The National Experience: A History Of The United States. 6th Edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Hovanovich, 1985, page 276.

Ironically, US slaves faired better than their Indian counterparts.  As slaves arrived in schackles, they rarely posed a serious threat to their owners and made many of them very wealthy.  As a result, they were never threatened with genocidal extinction and have survived to this day -- no longer as slaves, but as full 5/5 citizens.  In contrast, enslaving Indians on their own land was a far more difficult task.  Instead, the Indians were driven away or killed until nearly all of their land had been stolen, and there was no one left to offer resistance.

In the end, Americans, who celebrate Thanksgiving Day with only joy and no shame -- no matter their origin -- are either ignorant of their own nation's history or should not be trusted.  What is worse, many USAmericans continue to support very similar activity in the Middle East, as they stand aside and watch the Israeli government brutalize the Palestinian people who seek to preserve their own land against the vastly superior technology of the Israeli occupation (see The Frankenstein Monster and Anti-Semetic? for an accurate analogy of the plight of the Palestinians to that of former native Americans).

Yes, America is a less than perfect union and does continue to suffer from both of its congenital defects.

Roddy Stegemann
Berkeley, California, USA

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