There’s been enough obloquy thrown Thanksgiving’s way this year without MSNBC’s petty revisionism, no?
Yet, there it was on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Saturday, this time guest-hosted by Jason Johnson. As the Media Research Center reported, Johnson called Thanksgiving “colonizer Christmas” and then threw it to a panelist who managed to sink lower from there.
Johnson began with the usual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warnings against gathering for Thanksgiving this year — in some jurisdictions, Americans are restricted from gathering by law — and “urging you not to be the turkey who puts your loved ones at risk.”
Yes, yes, you see what he did there. You don’t expect anything particularly cutting from a segment that began with a turkey pun that might actually be worse than the one in that “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” 1990s anti-drug PSA.
However, this turned into something less akin to kicking a holiday when it’s down and more like hitting it in the ribs with a baseball bat.
Johnson asked panelist Jelani Cobb about how “Thanksgiving has evolved in America, just like Christmas, right? At one point, Christmas was a time for rich people to open up their houses for people to come in and get stuff.”
“Thanksgiving has changed over time as well. I know in my family, I know several people who call it ‘Colonizer Christmas,’ because they don’t really like the idea of what Thanksgiving represents.
“From a cultural and a historic standpoint, is it really that much a disruption that we should maybe back off of Thanksgiving this year? Haven’t we had other times where major holidays had to change because the nation was facing crisis?”
Cobb, a writer with The New Yorker, assented and delivered further blows to the holiday — placing its origins in an English colony in Virginia, rather than the much better-known Massachusetts settlement.
“Or even think about it: That original Thanksgiving, you know, where the colony was starving, and, you know, anthropological research suggests was in such dire conditions they had to resort to cannibalism to remain alive,” Cobb said.
“And you know, it always has been kind of awkward to say that you commemorate that by stuffing yourself with as much food as you can find. And maybe, perhaps, people have to actually think about a small sacrifice that would be fitting, in keeping with this day. “
As the Media Research Center’s Mark Finkelstein wrote, “[t]he left’s campaign to undermine and ultimately destroy American traditions and culture marches inexorably on.”
“Christmas: secularized. Columbus Day? Fuggedaboutit — it’s Indigenous Peoples Day! And in this latest attack, Thanksgiving becomes ‘Colonizer Christmas,’ celebrating a bunch of cannibals,” he wrote.
He also notes that “there is some evidence of isolated incidents of cannibalism among the Jamestown colonists during the harsh winter of 1609-10. But this was hardly a widespread practice.”
It’s also not when the first recorded thanksgiving in the New World was, either. For starters, that event happened on Dec. 4, 1619, according to Merry Outlaw, the head curator at Jamestown. It had nothing to do with the cannibalism, either. Instead, Outlaw told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot in 2016 that it was precipitated by new arrivals at Berkeley Hundred, a settlement 20 miles upstream from Jamestown:
“[T]his day of our ship’s arrival … shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God,” one of the settlers wrote. And then didn’t eat another human being, in case you were wondering.
There are several reasons why we don’t celebrate the Virginian thanksgiving — and I’m noting them not to score pedantic “well, ackshullllly…“-style points but to note what this kind of revisionism always misses.
Yes, even though no Hannibal Lecterism was involved in the celebration, the Virginian thanksgiving happened two years prior to the much more widely recognized Massachusetts thanksgiving. You could probably come up with any number of reasons we don’t celebrate it. If this really was “colonizer Christmas,” however, the colonizers should probably have adopted the Virginian version.
I’m going to assume you’re familiar with Massachusetts Thanksgiving lore. If you aren’t, quick explainer: The Puritans came over and starved through their first winter because they arrived too late to plant crops. In the midst of their misery, they were approached by a number of members of the Wampanoag tribe — including Tisquantum, better known as Squanto, who learned English after being captured by an earlier English expedition for sale into slavery in Europe, according to a 2019 article in The Atlantic.
A diplomatic relationship was established and the Wampanoag taught the Puritans how to farm. Having finally secured enough food to make it through the winter of 1621-1622, the Puritans held a Thanksgiving feast. According to a 2019 article on HistoryExtra, the website of the BBC History Magazine, Wampanoags who were drawn to the event by sounds of celebration — including gunshots fired into the air — killed deer and contributed the meat to the meal.
If you’re hearing a version of this story for the 1,124th time since kindergarten, I’m bringing it up again for an important reason. Thanksgiving is a narrative of humility before God and comity with Native Americans — and it was adopted as a de facto national holiday in 1863 via proclamation by Abraham Lincoln. It wasn’t officially a federal holiday until an act of Congress 1870.
We’re currently being told we live in a regressive culture with persistently unenlightened views toward Native Americans because the Washington Redskins just recently became the Washington Football Team. Consider that 20 years after Congress made a day celebrating the Wampanoag saving the Plymouth colonists , 300 Lakota Sioux were massacred at Wounded Knee by the United States Army in South Dakota.
Thus, this wasn’t an era when it was popular to acknowledge that indigenous Americans were the only reason the colonists who sailed on the Mayflower didn’t end up as emaciated corpses.
Meanwhile, down in Jamestown, the reason for the conditions that led to cannibalism is the fact that the colonists lived in enmity with the Native American tribes around them.
The BBC noted in a story on the phenomenon that during the the 1609-1610 period in Jamestown — given the aptronym “The Starving Time” — their food supplies were low primarily because they “were under siege from the indigenous Indian population and had insufficient food to last the winter.”
In 1610, the colony was further stretched by the arrival of new colonists who only had shellfish as provisions, and that didn’t last long. The colonists were packing up and preparing to leave, according to the Virginian-Pilot’s Joanne Kimberlin, when the deus ex machina came to save them.
“On June 8, 1610, a supply convoy carrying Lord De La Warr met their ships in the river,” Kimberlin wrote. “He ordered a turnaround and the housecleaning that turned the old wells into a treasure trove for today’s archaeologists.” From there, the colony flourished — until you saw the Thanksgiving declared in 1619 by settlers heading to Berkeley Hundred.
In this story, the colonizers are solely responsible for their hardscrabble tale of making it on their own. This was the kind of settler spirit we’d be celebrating if we were into “colonizer Christmas.” Instead of the Mayflower, we’d all have been coloring in pictures of Lord De La Warr’s ships back in first grade.
And, keep in mind, incontrovertible evidence of cannibalism wasn’t found until the 21st century. Given that we’d already made heroes of the rugby team at the heart (probably the wrong word) of the 1972 Andean plane crash — in which survivors stayed alive by eating the other, other, other white meat — it probably wouldn’t faze many of us.
When the country chose Thanksgiving’s origin story, we went with one that involved submission not only to God but also to the advice of (and de facto suzerainty) to the Wampanoag, not the one that involved struggling against Native Americans until more colonizers showed up with better provisions.
And yet, for liberals on MSNBC, it’s “colonizer Christmas.”
As for the actual Christmas, it must be secularized at all costs — especially if celebrating the birth of the Savior involves a Nativity Scene at the local middle school. As for Columbus Day, aren’t you aware he was a genocidal maniac?
A revisionist war on holidays assumes the current members of the American left are the last moral people on earth. They’ll arbitrate, once and for all, what is and isn’t moral for us to do when it comes to holidays.
The so-called “Colonizer Christmas” — not allowed, particularly when normal families are being infuriated by world-record hypocrites like California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Chicago Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The justification for banning them — at least in part on MSNBC — is that we shouldn’t be celebrating them anyway.
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