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November 24, 2005

Why Leftists Hate Thanksgiving

by Kevin Boyd

Leftist author and University of Texas Professor Robert Jensen wrote an article for Alternet (hat tip: Instapundit) where he bashed Thanksgiving as

“the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers. “.

In 2003, Mitchel Cohen had a Thanksgiving Day bashing article for Counterpunch where he describes himself as

“I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving. I have been accused of wanting to go backwards in time, of being against progress. To those charges, I plead guilty. I want to go back in time to when people lived communally, before the colonists’ Christian god was brought to these shores to sanctify their terrorism, their slavery, their hatred of children, their oppression of women, their holocausts.

Clearly, these two leftists use Thanksgiving to attack America for its “genocide” against native Americans. What these men forget is that native Americans and white settlers fought a series of wars, wars that the native Americans happened to lose everytime. For reasons why Westerners have mostly won in warfare, I recommend Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hansen. I especially recommend the chapter dealing with the conquest of the Aztecs and Hansen’s explanation of the native American’s collectivism and lack of individuality held them back technologically.

But when you read both the linked articles, you also see attacks on capitalism as well. This is assisted by the leftist dominated government schools which omit the real story of Thanksgiving, which is that the real story of Thanksgiving is that capitalism works better than socialism. Mike Franc has an article about this at Human Events Online:

Writing in his diary of the dire economic straits and self-destructive behavior that consumed his fellow Puritans shortly after their arrival, Governor William Bradford painted a picture of destitute settlers selling their clothes and bed coverings for food while others “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” The most desperate among them starved, with Bradford recounting how one settler, in gathering shellfish along the shore, “was so weak … he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”

The colony’s leaders identified the source of their problem as a particularly vile form of what Bradford called “communism.” Property in Plymouth Colony, he observed, was communally owned and cultivated. This system (“taking away of property and bringing [it] into a commonwealth”) bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the settlers’] benefit and comfort.”

Just how did the Pilgrims solve the problem of famine? In addition to receiving help from the local Indians in farming, they decided allow the private ownership of individual plots of land.

On the brink of extermination, the Colony’s leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. “This had very good success,” Bradford reported, “for it made all hands very industrious.” In fact, “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been” and productivity increased. “Women,” for example, “went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

The famine that nearly wiped out the Pilgrims in 1623 gave way to a period of agricultural abundance that enabled the Massachusetts settlers to set down permanent roots in the New World, prosper, and play an indispensable role in the ultimate success of the American experiment.

A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. Their success, he observed, “may well evince the vanity of that conceit…that the taking away of property… would make [men] happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Bradford surmised, “God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

The real story of Thanksgiving is the triumph of capitalism and individualism over collectivism and socialism, which is the summation of the story of America. This is the real reason why leftists hate this day and seek to turn into a day-long Blame America fest. The Pilgrims are the historical reminder of the defeat of socialism, over 380 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. My biggest fear this Thanksgiving is that America is steadily abandoning capitalism and individualism, which why we as classical liberals (I like this much better than neo-libertarian or the other names that have emerged to describe people like me) must work to preserve the ideals of our Founding Fathers and those who settled America.

Crossposted to Louisiana Libertarian

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  • http://thelibertypapers.org Eric

    Great post, and true thoughts. Including the worries about where the country is going.

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  • http://www.atlasblogged.com Wulf

    What these men forget is that native Americans and white settlers fought a series of wars…

    These men go on about this genocide, but they also seem to forget that there were plenty of tribes on these two continents who met a violent end – a genocide if you like – at the hands of their rival tribes. Warfare was not introduced to the Americas by white men. It is a completely false myth to believe that the aboriginals were any less or more than tribes of men, who acted like men, for all the good and bad that means.

  • Paul

    “The real story of Thanksgiving is the triumph of capitalism…”

    Wow… Regardless of whether it was ‘native American collectivism’ that held them back technologically, and regardless of whether the killing of native Americans by whites is best terms a genocide, it really does makes me feel ill to hear this event termed a “triumph”.

    The idea these much-hated ‘lefties’ resent Thanksgiving because it represents the defeat of their much-loved socialism is completely untrue. Rather, they simply question the merit of celebrating a day that represents the founding of a country through invasion and the violent subjugation of a native population.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/21/who-is-eric/ Eric

    Paul, please name a country that hasn’t come about through invasion, violence, etc. For that matter, if you knew your history, you would know that the original English settlers of the colonies in New England bartered for, and purchased, the land they settled on. The oft told tale of purchasing Manhattan is a myth, with the lie of the myth being the price paid. Yes, Manhattan Island was purchased, but not for the paltry amount told in the myth. And, if you go back to the original English and colonial records, you discover that.

    Yes, there were wars fought between the various Indian tribes and colonies, but they were part of the larger French, English and Dutch conflicts of the 17th and 18th centuries. The actual “wars of conquest” against the Indian nations didn’t begin until, roughly, the 1830’s. Of course, you would need to go to the actual history to find that out, not what is currently taught in our government schools.

  • Chris mankey

    I was unaware that native americans were marxists! Thanks for the heads up on those evil lefty injuns!

  • http://louisianalibertarian.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    Actually Chris, even know I know you’re being a smartass and I never called “the injuns” Marxists, you actually have a point. The Indians, mostly practiced collective ownership of property, an idea eventually pioneered by Marx in his various ramblings. So the Indians actually predated Marxism.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/21/who-is-eric/ Eric

    As did the nearly complete failure of the original collectivist colonies at Plymouth and Jamestown. In fact, you can’t point out a successful collective that didn’t have external support propping it up. And we keep learning, and forgetting, that lesson.

  • Paul

    Yes, and you keep forgetting that a developed society has never existed, nor an economy ever developed, without an active role for the state.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Eric

    Who says, Paul, that we don’t want the state to have a role? We are not Libertarians dreaming of theoretical anarcho-capitalism. We do understand that developed societies and developed economies call for a state of some sort. But, we can point to cases where economies have developed quite successfully without socialist state activity. Unfortunately for the collectivist crowd, dreaming of egalitarian socialist societies, there has yet to be a successful system based on such ideas. In fact, the further you move towards such ideals, the worse things become for the “common man” that your system is supposed to be helping. Naturally, socialists never address those issues.

  • http://www.quincysblog.com/ Quincy

    Actually, Paul, the role of the state in creating a stable economy is to provide a simple, stable set of laws and principles upon which people can rely in their lives. Socialism, in seeking to favor some over others and with its constant meddling in the economy, does just the opposite.

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