Thanksgiving: The National Question Footnote
November 21, 2001, 04:00 AM
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In Tom Bethell's estimable book, The Noblest Triumph, you can read about the early Pilgrims' experiment with collectivism, and how private property saved the Pilgrims and gave them something to give thanks for.  In recent years, this story has become a sort of free-market footnote to every Thanksgiving

But in a "nation of immigrationists," you won't often find any reference to the Pilgrims' attitude towards immigration. So VDARE.COM herewith provides Thanksgiving's National Question footnote. 

In Ben Wattenberg's book The First Universal Nation (not exactly as estimable, but certainly epochal), he says, discussing the historic unpopularity of immigration: 

One gets the feeling that when the folks on the Mayflower went out to watch the next boats come in, they muttered to one another 'There goes the neighborhood.'

This happens to be true. And with reason. The Columbia Encyclopedia says that the second ship so taxed the resources of the infant colony that the Pilgrims almost starved.

During the first winter of the colony, about half of the settlers died from scurvy and exposure... A little corn was raised in 1621, and in October of that year the settlers celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day. However, the arrival of more colonists necessitated half rations, and it was several years before the threat of famine passed.

The Pilgrim Fathers were refugees not only from religious persecution, but also from religious pluralism, which they found intolerable.

Robinson gathered seekers for freedom from England and Europe during the sixteen years he was in Leyden. Winslow wrote of him: "His study was peace and union; and for schism and division, there was nothing more hateful to him." When invited to Amsterdam to arbitrate among quibbling sects there, he was shocked at their divisiveness and cried, "I had rather walk in peace with five godly persons than live with 500 or 5,000 such unquiet persons as these."

The first Americans – all white, all Protestant, all English-speaking - were already disenchanted with diversity.

The Pilgrims were very careful about who they let join their Colony. Every colony in New England had a law preventing religious dissidents from settling without permission. (Except for Rhode Island, which trusted in Providence.) 

In 1639, just nineteen years after they landed, the Pilgrims set fines for shipmasters who discharged criminals and paupers. (For more on colonial immigration restrictions, read Wayne Lutton's wonderful pamphlet The Myth of Open Borders, available from the American Immigration Control Foundation.)

The 52 Pilgrims who had children now have tens of millions of descendannts. (George W. Bush is one of them, FDR was another.) They are the progenitors of the modern American nation. The Continental Congress proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving in 1777 after Saratoga. But it wasn't necessarily connected with the Pilgrims until Daniel Webster's Plymouth Oration of 1820, in which he said

There is a local feeling connected with this occasion, too strong to be resisted; a sort of genius of the place, which inspires and awes us. We feel that we are on the spot where the first scene of our history was laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first placed; where Christianity, and civilization, and letters made their first lodgement, in a vast extent of country, covered with a wilderness, and peopled by roving barbarians.

Talking of roving barbarians…There's a question on the Citizenship Test that you (used to) have to take to become an American citizen.

Who helped the Pilgrims in America?

The "school solution" is Native American Indians. And there's some truth in this, since Squanto and Massasoit did help the Pilgrims. A treaty with the Wampanoag resulted in 50 years of peace between settlers and that tribe, partly because the Wampanoag wanted someone to protect them from the Narragansett Indians.

But the Pilgrims themselves would have said that "God Almighty" had helped them. Or possibly "God's merciful Providence." (For those of you who missed it, it's God, G-O-D, that receives Thanksgiving every November.) They would also have pointed out that for every Wampanoag who told them what and what not to eat, there was a Narragansett with a stone ax and a firebrand.

Of course, the Native Americans are notoriously the textbook case of the dangers of immigration. Some of them express their lack of gratitude at Thanksgiving time by declaring it a National Day of Mourning.

The multiculturalists are attacking thanksgiving, too. In "A Not-So Traditional Thanksgiving" the Learning Network asks "Heroic Founding or Original Sin?"

(The Pilgrims were perfectly acquainted with original sin. But it would never have occurred to them, as apparently it does to modern multiculturalists, that the Indians weren't affected by original sin too.)

For several decades now, the militant group, the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), has staged demonstrations in Plymouth each Thanksgiving, some of which have turned ugly. Renaming Thanksgiving the "National Day of Mourning," their intention is to awaken the country to the darker side of Plymouth.

Of course, Native American history has a darker side as well. Scalpings, cannibalism, torture, et cetera. See any Western movie made before 1967.

The UAINE are dedicating their latest protest to a convicted murderer who is currently serving a life sentence for his vicious killing of two wounded FBI agents, Jack R. Coler and Ronald L. Williams. UAINE demonstrations have also received messages from the killer of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. This particular killer is not an Indian himself, but united with them in his hatred for whites.

The Indians are marching and in some cases rioting, to protest the existence of the United States of America. In one protest they covered up Plymouth Rock with shovels. Twice. They're probably going to do it again this Thanksgiving. Which is going to be too bad for the Plymouth Police Department, whose members would prefer to take the day off.

This is a manifestation of the modern Guilt Lobby. These are the same people who beat up on Columbus, the Atlanta Braves, and try to get schoolbooks altered to reflect modern Indian piety.

At VDARE.COM, we file it all under the heading Abolishing America. And we Give Thanks that it's not succeeded – yet.

November 21, 2001