On Thanksgiving Day, a notoriously progressive newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ran an editorial that outrageously likened the iconic Pilgrims to ISIS. The anonymous author(s) claimed that their suggested revised narrative of the origin story of the American people …
at least the immigrant population that over 400 years has come to dominance
… is truthful, citing as their source a television program on the also notoriously progressive PBS.
A critical review of the aforementioned documentary, published in the also notoriously progressive New York Times, referred to the Pilgrims as fundamentalists and, like the Post editorial, implied a similarity to ISIS.
Do we detect a meme? A politically correct one?
Magnanimously, however, the New York Times generously allowed that the Pilgrims were, after all, “not terrorists,” even if somehow a “perceived” enemy’s head ended up on a post.
In the Post editorial, the anonymous author(s) also labeled the Pilgrims religious fundamentalists and zealots and blamed their religious beliefs for the actions of one man, Myles Standish, a mercenary/soldier, who was not a member of their religious sect:
Although he supported and defended the Pilgrim colony for much of his life, there is no evidence to suggest that Standish ever joined their church.
In fact, only about 30% of those on the Mayflower were religious “separatists,” the rest being “immigrants, adventurers, and speculators.” Inexplicably, despite claiming truth, the editorial also claims that the Pilgrims originally headed for New Jersey, when in fact they planned to land in Virginia.
Be niggling details as they may, it was Standish who placed his real, not merely perceived, enemy’s head on a post. Not being of the faith of the Pilgrims, can his violent actions, opposed by many of the Pilgrims, be fairly blamed upon the religious beliefs of the Pilgrims? Can the violent actions of the 70% of Pilgrims who were not religious separatists be fairly blamed upon the religious beliefs of the 30% of Pilgrims who were?
Hardly, but progressive editorialists often do not let facts get in the way of a good, simplified meme, especially one that sticks it to descendants of white European immigrants, whites in general, Christians, and/or conservatives, preferably on the very day that our nation celebrates the “origin story” of the American people.
Note how the authors falsely imply that there are among the American people some who do not descend from “immigrants” when, of course, every human being in this land descends from immigrants. Every. Single. One.
Some interesting facts: Upon arrival, the settlers (aka Pilgrims) formed a NATO-like, mutual defense compact with one of the local native tribes, the Pokanokets. In keeping with that agreement, at one point Standish and his men helped put down a rebellion within the Pokanoket tribe. Thus, Standish ended up with many friends among the native tribes, as well as many personal enemies, one of whom ended up with his head on that post, which fray was instigated by a warning to Standish from his native ally, Massasoit, about a plan by another tribe to wipe out the English settlements.
Massaoit advised a preemptive strike, advice that Standish took, thus saving many lives. Standish and three other men, not the Pilgrims collectively, killed five conspirators but not an adolescent male or several women who accompanied the conspirators. Religion had nothing to do with it. Survival did.
Disingenuously, not truthfully, the narrative spun by the editorialists states,
Fourteen years later, having been reinforced from England and Holland, the fundamentalists were strong enough to strike the Pequot Tribe near Groton, Conn. Seven hundred Pequot men, women and children were killed during their Green Corn Festival. The governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared a Day of Thanksgiving.
The fundamentalists continued their war, even extending it to the Wampanoag people who had bailed them out in 1621. They beheaded some of their enemies and took others as slaves. A second day of Thanksgiving was declared.
And so today, we commemorate our ISIS-like forebears.
Fact check: The Mystic massacre did happen. It was carried out by about 110 settlers and 200 Native Americans. Therefore, Pilgrim fundamentalists did not massacre 700 people over religion–it was an atrocity carried out by a joint force of settlers and Native Americans, in retaliation for previous attacks by the Pequot upon them.
Here is what the also somewhat notoriously progressive Wikipedia says about the Pequot War:
The Pequot and their traditional enemies, the Mohegan, were at one time a single sociopolitical entity. … In the 1630s, the Connecticut River Valley was in turmoil. The Pequot aggressively worked to extend their area of control … The [six plus native] tribes contended for political dominance and control of the European fur trade. …
The Pequot assaulted a tribe of Indians who had tried to trade at what is known as Hartford. … The Pequot attempted to get their allies, some 36 tributary villages, to join their cause but were only partly effective. …
Through the Autumn and winter, Fort Saybrook was effectively besieged. [White] people who ventured outside were killed. As spring arrived in 1637, the Pequot stepped up their raids on Connecticut towns. On April 23, Wongunk chief Sequin attacked Wethersfield with Pequot help. They killed six men and three women, a number of cattle and horses, and took two young girls captive. … In all, the towns lost about thirty settlers.
Does that sound like a Pilgrim war on innocent natives, designed to impose a set of religious beliefs upon them? It was a war about trade, politics, and power, among the various native tribes and against English and Dutch settlers who were allied with other tribes, having nothing whatsoever to do with religion.
There seems to be a reason why it was called the Pequot War. It was their war on their traditional enemies and on white settlers. If the Christian Pilgrims were involved, it’s because they were being attacked in the course of a war that had been going on for generations among the definitely not so very “peaceful” native tribes of the region.
The “First Encounter” between the settlers and the native tribes was an attack upon the Pilgrims by the descendants of those other settlers–you know, those other immigrants, the ones called natives, who came hundreds, thousands, perhaps even ten thousand or so years before the Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims came to these shores to escape from a state religion, not to found and impose upon others an ISIS-like state religion. The Pilgrims were escaping oppression and seeking to freely practice their faith. They were separatists, not jihadists. Not terrorists.
Back in England, those who shared the Pilgrims’ beliefs had been persecuted by fines, similar to how Muslims tax dhimmis (non-believers) as second-class citizens, and the Pilgrims’ forebears were at times executed for sedition because they dared to leave the Church of England, similar to how some Muslims condemn to death anyone who dares leave that faith.
Thus, instead of being like ISIS, the Pilgrims suffered in the very same way that those who oppose ISIS and radical Islam suffer today. These progressive writers would have been more accurate to compare the practices of the state-run Church of England to ISIS and radical Islam.
The editorialists quote filmmaker Ric Burns (yes, brother of Ken Burns):
People tend to think that the Pilgrims believed in religious freedom. They didn’t. They were looking for a place where they could be free to worship as they wished, a freedom they had no impulse to extend to anyone else. They did not believe in diversity of practice. They believed in purity, in expelling contaminating influences.
When and where and how did the Pilgrims expel “contaminating influences?” Isolating oneself from bad influences is not the same as expelling bad influences.
Unlike ISIS, which seeks to impose by terror a set of warped beliefs upon the entire world, the Pilgrims came here to find their own “place where they would be free to worship as they wished,” sounding rather like Amish communities, Mennonite communities, orthodox Jewish communities, and other peaceful religious communities that, yes, are separate by choice, which is their right. But none of these communities force others to live as they live through terror, nor have they tried to conquer anyone.
The Post editorialists sum up:
Today there is talk of limiting [religious freedom], subjecting it to surveillance and identity cards. The Pilgrims would understand that impulse, but America grew beyond them.
Now that’s bordering on the ridiculous. When, where, and how did the Pilgrims ever remotely propose surveillance and identity cards for those who didn’t believe as they did? The mendacity of progressives knows no bounds.
So what’s the point of these editorialists, anyway? Simply to draw a false analogy in order to ridicule the culture of the perceived “white privileged”?
To promote lies for no other reason than to tear down the traditions that once bound us all together?
The story of Thanksgiving is not a story only of or for whites or European-Americans. It is and always has been a story that included American people of all colors, all ethnic groups, all races, including the first black settler in Plymouth, Abraham Pearce, as well as the many native peoples who allied themselves with the white settlers, lived among them, intermarried with them, and even converted voluntarily to Christianity. This was the beginning of the melting pot.
This was the beginning of the American People.
Were these people perfect? Of course not. All of them, of every color, were human beings, and all human beings are imperfect.
Native tribes engaged in slavery, human sacrifice, and wars of conquest and atrocity among themselves, before and after the arrival of European immigrants. The European immigrantss engaged in slavery, slave trading, war, and atrocities, as well. Ditto for some of the free Africans.
As for the enslaved Africans, they could thank other African tribes, with whom their tribes were at war, for capturing and selling them to Arab slave traders, who in turn sold them to the English, who brought them to America.
The most likely reason for an editorial likening our virtual forebears–the Pilgrims–to ISIS is political. Barack Obama and his supporters seek in any way and every way possible to Balkanize the American people.
To divide is to conquer.
It’s a given that Obama and his supporters do everything in their power to promote the myth of Islamophobia, when in truth the reason why over 70% of Americans want to stop Muslim immigration into America is reasonable fear:
Fear that among the “refugees” will be jihadists who seek to do us harm, because they said so. They also said that they intend to conquer us from within. How to sort the good from the bad? Obama’s own officials admit that they cannot adequately vet Syrians to ensure that there are no terrorists among them.
Progressives love to simplify. They paint every issue with no shades of gray. Either. Or. Either you’re an ignorant, Islamophobic racist, or you’re a compassionate, intelligent person (like progressives).
Donald Trump did not suggest identity cards for all American Muslims. A reporter did and then distorted Trump’s response. But that’s par for the course, with progressive reporters.
Lie. Distort. Take out of context. Rinse. Repeat.
It’s interesting that the editorial snarkily bemoans that what they define as the “immigrant population,” in their opinion, has “come to dominance” over the past 400 years.
By “immigrant population” they must mean anybody descended from immigrants, although they probably aren’t including descendants of blacks (also immigrants, if mostly unwilling), or Native Americans (also immigrants)–both groups who were also here from the beginning of what became the American People.
Is there truly such a monolithic “immigrant population?” Are the American People dominated by the descendants of the Pilgrims? Is the majority religion fundamentalist, separatist Calvinism? Hardly.
We the People, no matter our background, have learned and celebrated the Pilgrim “origin story” since 1621. First, the English and Dutch settlers. Later Irish, Polish, German, Swiss, Swedish, Italian, Slavic, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian, Pakistani, Lebanese, Syrian, Mexican, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon … You get the picture.
Our American culture today is so far from the culture of the Pilgrims that we would seem like Martians to them. Our culture includes languages, stories, myths, music, and traditions from all the myriad ethnic groups and races that collectively comprise our uniquely American People.
So what “immigrant population” do these writers mean? Reading between the lines, trying to get at the purpose of their grousing, one can only conclude that they sorely regret that, in their opinion, whites have “come to dominance.”
Perhaps these writers regret that immigrants of other colors arrived and eventually supplanted the various native populations, wiping out their cultures, whether by accident or by design. (Just as the Mexicas supplanted the Tepanecs, and the Lakota Sioux supplanted the Crow and Cheyenne.)
Fun facts: In 1492, the “native” population of what is now the USA (in its entirety) is estimated to have been between 7 and 18 million individuals. Today, 5.2 million Americans claim native ancestry, although surely there are far more Americans than that who carry Native American blood. The current population of the New York Metropolitan area is between 20 and 23 million, so just a little more than the native population of the entire USA in 1492, all squeezed within area smaller than the state of New Jersey.
What then of the American culture, as it exists today? If these writers decry culture change and supplantation, can they applaud the Islamization of our own culture?
Are some cultures more worthy of being preserved than others? Do these writers share that odd notion that We the People, especially those who are white, don’t have a culture? Well, maybe it looks that way from the inside but be assured–there is an American culture, and American culture is not race or color specific. Whites have no collective “white culture” because white is a skin color, like hair or eye color. White is not an ethnic or cultural group. To believe otherwise is, well, racist.
What struck me most about the editorial, as I read it on Thanksgiving Day, was the sheer spitefulness of the writer(s). Spitefulness on the very day when We the People sit down together to reenact the ritual begun in Plymouth in 1621:
Thanking our Creator for this blessed and bountiful land where all hope to live in freedom and equality.
Is the story of the First Thanksgiving a “myth”? Of course it is, but it is a myth based upon truth and also based upon shared ideals.
We want to be one People, no matter our various skin colors. We want to be a People who come together from disparate backgrounds and work together so that all might survive and succeed in freedom. Don’t we? Well, we all used to.
Now, it seems, too many want to divide and divide and divide. To rewrite history. To warp and distort and change history. To tear down. To destroy what’s been built here, paid for with so much blood, sweat, and tears.
It’s said that
myths grant continuity and stability to a culture. They foster a shared set of perspectives, values, history — and literature, in the stories themselves. Through these communal tales, we are connected to one another, to our ancestors, to the natural world surrounding us, and to society …
And that, folks, is exactly why progressives seek to destroy our common myths and, in so doing, destroy our common values, ideals, and identity.
No shared set of perspectives. No shared values. No shared history. No connection to one another. No cohesive society. No shared culture. No common identity …
RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
Divide and conquer. Fundamental transformation.