Thanksgiving Day is here, and as is the fashion, it’s taking a beating. “What is Thanksgiving to Indigenous People? ‘A Day of Mourning,’” writes the onetime daily Bible of American mass culture, USA Today. The Washington Post fused a clickhole headline format with white guilt to create, “This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.” Even the pundits who didn’t rummage in the past in search of reasons for Americans to flog themselves this week found some in the future, a la the Post’s climate-change take on Turkey Day menus: “What’s on the Thanksgiving table in a hotter, drier world?”
MSNBC meanwhile kept us all festive by reminding us, with regard to the now-infamous Pilgrims, that “Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence”:
Where’s all this headed? In the space of a generation America has gone from being a country brimming with undeserved over-confidence, to one whose intellectual culture has turned into an agonizing, apparently interminable run of performative self-flagellation.
"Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence," Gyasi Ross says about the history of American Thanksgiving. "That genocide and violence is still on the menu." pic.twitter.com/DLkocjrdqV— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 20, 2021
Whether or not to enjoy Thanksgiving is not the hard part of the American citizen’s test. Thanksgiving is awesome. Everything about it, from the mashed potatoes to the demented relatives to the pumpkin pies to the farts, is top-drawer holiday enjoyment. The only logical complaint about modern Thanksgiving involves forcing the poor Detroit Lions to play a marquee role every year. I think we can all agree that whole situation is a net minus, especially for them, no matter how funny the first fifteen minutes of those games usually are.
But the historical self-mortification has gotten out of hand. American exceptionalism used to mean 300 million yahoos being so convinced they were a unique force for good in the world that history before 1776 was irrelevant. We’re now living through the moronic inverse: America is such a unique evil, we’re told, so much the standard-bearer for the oppression of innocent peoples everywhere, that human suffering before 1776 is hardly worth mentioning. Or before 1492, as it were, since a lot of the current fashion stems from our pseudo-intellectual class being unable suddenly to handle the revelations of one decades-old book.
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