Two videos about Thanksgiving

One correct and fair, from a careful reader of history*

And the other distorted and biased, from an American Conservative

 

* The comment section is unfortunate though, since some American Conservatives have taken advantage of its light tone (without heeding its essence) to subvert the lesson & message it should otherwise deliver.

10 thoughts on “Two videos about Thanksgiving

  1. Paul

    Sunday cartoons? Ha. In all seriousness, I too liked the first video more. Facts and a good dose of humor (Our son is Dutch! Time to leave.). The second video seemed to have almost a touch of a religious feeling about it, or something in that vein. Personally, I always thought the Pilgrim crowd were a bunch of Protestant fanatics, myself.

    On the other hand, I doubt most people know or even care, even about the sugar-coated tale, as the schools teach none of it anymore or little of it at best. For most people it’s simply a good meal followed by a shopping spree. I get rather annoyed at all of the ‘European colonialism this, European colonialism that’ that some people enjoy posting at this time of year – right before they go out and spend their money on Chinese-made goods. Their energy and sense of morality would be better utilized by calling attention to the modern colonization and ongoing destruction of peoples like the Palestinians, Uyghurs, or Tibetans. Just a few weeks ago, I heard that more Uyghur women had been forced to marry Chinese men and thusly contribute unwillingly to the decline of their people. And where is the mourning for peoples like the Ainu of Japan, or the Native Americans/American Indians who were gleefully displaced, enslaved, genocided and butchered by their own? The Americas were spectacularly violent in all possible ways long before the colonial period, let us not forget.

    At any rate, for myself it’s more of an autumn and harvest celebration that is sandwiched between my two favorite holy times of the year.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Yes, there was a religious tone in the second one that informed listeners can immediately notice. The Pilgrims were indeed fanatics, but King James should have dealt with them. The 17th century, or the even the Late Renaissance and Early Modern Period in general, was a time of instable and huge changes. The state became ever more powerful and imperial, leading to the oppression of all sorts of people, both through domestic centralization and foreign colonization. Then the oppressed went to oppress others weaker than them in the colonies. That’s the story of America. It wasn’t a problem invented by evil Europeans, but a product of old evil ideas (on a new scale) ignorantly (double meaning here) promoted by *certain Christian* Europeans in hopes of a more lucrative life. Nor were these Europeans equal in their damage, the French were far superior to the British and Spanish colonizers, being mainly concerned with trade. On the other hand, nobody disputes that the Natives had tribal warfare and sometimes to a bloody extent, but genociding a tribe or two is not equal to genocide in two continents. We need to be mindful of the vast differences in scale as well as the difference between tribal warfare and imperial/organized warfare. Furthermore, I believe we polytheists should help Natives today and advocate for them whenever possible, also acknowledging that colonization is in continuance. So, I would certainly add Natives in the Americas (or New World in general) on the list you presented. I would also note that Palestinians are colonized only as far as Israeli settlements that are being built in their own allotted territory; the presence of Jews in the area does not at all equal colonization, since the Jews have an ancient right to the land. In fact, it could be argued that Islam and Arabs (i.e. original Peninsula Arabs) colonized the Levant and elsewhere.

      The aforementioned is my honest opinion and I offer it kindly to your consideration. But in any case, this idea of “Thanksgiving” is a weak one for polytheists, who, as you so wisely state, care far more for harvest and solstice celebrations.

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  2. K

    The first video is actually pretty good. It at least treated both sides as people trying to survive and achieve their goals.

    If you know Dennis Prager the second one is not a surprise. Michael Medved(“knows honey”, a kenning for bear) is like Prager, an American Conservative. Neither are Christians though they praise Christianity(of the American sort anyway). Dennis Prager believes he is part of a chosen group that is morally superior to everyone else and has a duty to convert the world(which resents them for it). He has good reason to think the native tribes ought to be grateful. They were a bunch of heathen savages and then the light broke through onto them in the form of the Pilgrims, hallelujah. That would have been the opinion among the Pilgrims as well. Christians to various degrees identify with narratives about the Israelites in the Bible. The Pilgrims identified with the Exodus and the taking of Canaan, down to considering the natives homologues to the Canaanites. King James was another Pharaoh, and the time in the Netherlands was another wandering in the desert.

    There is nothing religious about Thanksgiving to me. I don’t consider it anything other than a secular observance peculiar to America. I did not even go to the family dinner this year. I don’t like the Puritan origin of it either. Puritanism was among the worst things to happen to Europeans. It is even worse than other forms of Protestantism and is derived in a great part from Calvinism(which I consider rock bottom).

    I am kind of surprised about what you said about the Palestinians. I figured you would consider the Palestinians indigenous. They may be Arabized and mostly Muslims now(some are Christians, and there is a small population of Samaritans) but they are still descended from people that were in that land going back to the Canaanites. Peninsula Arabs did not just replace the larger settled populations of the Levant or the roaming Bedouins of the region. They(like some Jews) in part go back to the Moabites, Jebusites, Edomites, and Nabataeans that were forcibly integrated by the Jews in the past. There were Jews there too before the modern state of Israel was founded, the Mizrahi. Neither side in this issue really wants to share though.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      The only shortcoming of the first video was that its mild tone prevented a tendency towards a necessary moral conclusion. I say this as a polytheist who is far more concerned about fellow polytheists than Europeans. The “white” Christian settlers and Natives did not have equal hopes and should not be thought of as equal in general. If this position makes me sound neoliberal, I wouldn’t care, so long as it agrees with the spirit of polytheism in its original and just sense.

      My experience with political parties and positions has made me hear a few of Prager’s videos before and even one of his fireside chats. I am aware that he is Jewish and may be proud of it. However, he fits far more the White American Conservative category far more than he does the Conservative Jewish one, which is expected, considering his audience. The same with Ben Shapiro. You see, the Jews were quick to assimilate thoroughly and even adopt “white” names, in order to avoid prejudice. Any superiority complex in their case is the result of a former inferiority complex, and it still continues to this day. The Pilgrims were certainly like the ancient fanatical Jewish sects, but precisely for that reason, they had little influence; on the other hand, most other “White” settlers (religious or otherwise) adopted the Roman mentality of conquest and spread far & wide. There’s a reason why America later became a Republic. Christianity is not evil because it is Jewish (few exceptions), but mainly because it is has the Roman (Catholic) lust for imperialism.

      The Palestinians are indigenous as well as the Jews, if we speak ethnically, perhaps the Jews a little less so (I’ve seen DNA studies). When I spoke about Peninsula Arabs, I meant only to say that the Palestinians love to adopt an identity that colonized them. Their whole claim to Jerusalem is false in this context because they consider themselves belonging to the legacy of Saladin. And since the Jews speak a Northwestern Semitic language, their identity is more indigenous to the land than that of the Palestinians, if we are to compare. It shouldn’t lead to a conflict though, but there will always be religious fanaticism on both sides. The best solution in my opinion would be to unite the lands, call it “Canaan”, and make Hebrew & Aramaic official languages, expelling Arabic altogether and monotheism too. Obviously it won’t happen!

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  3. Paul

    Polite discussion of opinions is always a welcome thing.

    Many cruelties happened on both sides certainly, but infectious disease was the main cause of fatalities in the case of European and Native American contact. There weren’t any industrial death camps or killing centers or anything to that effect. Intermarriage was high (even the norm) as any look at demographics will reveal, most especially south of the US. Further, a genocide must be considered as a genocide regardless of the numbers involved. The destruction or subduing or any people, no matter the size of the people or nation, is something to be mourned.

    You are correct about French settlers being mainly interested in economics. The king actually encouraged people to mix and intermarry with the natives and form “one people” – this of course never happened as people weren’t interested, although trappers and the like had a reputation for having a Native wife and second family outside of their own homes.

    As far as advocacy goes, if it is sought out or encouraged then I see no problem (so long as one doesn’t turn against their own in so doing), or making a financial contribution if one wishes. I wouldn’t recommend anyone founding a group or attempting to insinuate themselves within an actual advocacy group made up of people whose future is in question. Both paths are misguided. When the topic comes up though, anyone with good will would express their support that (insert this or that people here) continue to exist and prosper. I don’t think anyone today has hostilities towards natives, and well wishes are usually with them. At least I personally haven’t ever heard a bad word spoken against any of them by anyone.

    To end, my ultimate point was that Thanksgiving is essentially viewed by most as a day of festivity and nothing more, and my intense dislike of those who annually use it to vent their own racist attitudes along with voicing their poisonous and false ideologies.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Yes, indeed. Polite discussions, or at the very least substantive discussions on this topic must be had, and I think we set a very good example in spite of our difference. It’s useful to think of truths being usually somewhere in the middle, but there are cases where it is more or less further beyond towards one side. For this topic, I won’t presume to judge the exact truths for all- I have merely done my best as a polytheist in the service of polytheists and polytheism, regardless of who or where. I have in a similar manner openly criticized Greeks, and sometimes without any reserve. Do I dishonor my ancestors when I do so? No and for two reasons. First, I criticize individuals & ideas, and when I criticize collectively, I endeavor to make it specific. Secondly, my identity is only tentatively “Greek”, meaning that as an individual seeking a local presence one day, I should think of myself (at least in the context of polytheism/pluralism) as a very small part and subdivision of a large & somewhat ill-defined entity. Surely I think oftentimes of the “Greeks” collectively as “my people”, but that is something which should be a secondary & temporary identity, for otherwise I am one worthless speck among 15 million people. Will I be angry if some “Turk” insults “Greeks”? Probably it will be my instinct to do so, but I should also hear what is said specifically (if there is any) and respond specifically either way, even agreeing if it is true. Certainly this is difficult to achieve outside of academic and educated contexts. Being defensive and offensive (so to speak) is bound to take place & meeting in the middle is an accomplishment we eternally seek when things become too complex & gray.
      One thing to consider about the genocide (which I’m glad we agree upon) is that the earliest settlers knew very soon that the foreign diseases they brought was a serious & fatal problem for the natives. I would need primary sources to prove that the settlers ever used it as a weapon, but we mustn’t forget that the settlers continuously pushed westwards without impunity, which was one of the reasons for the Seven Year War and later the Revolution. The Spaniards were merciless butchers like the English, but the French still were at fault. The interpretation in these situations is determined by what yardstick one uses, in this case an ethnic, polytheistic or political. I used the polytheistic here and do my best to be consistent. One point to consider also is the reason for the “racism” that you say is coming from the Left. Regardless of the term used, it may be possible that there is bitterness precisely because there isn’t enough acknowledgment by the government and (very importantly) certain parts of the culture that the land was unjustly conquered and the people unjustly subjected or forced into the jaws of genocide. Every side has stories, but believe me, the story that goes “my ancestor that came as an indentured servant and died in his sixth year before he could get land, but his brother succeeded and went on to become well off” is very unequal to the story that goes “my ancestor was brought here as a slave and thankfully survived the voyage unlike his cousin, and then was freed by his master when he was 50 because he worked so hard and wasn’t ever beaten for disobedience” or “my ancestor was a famous warrior who killed 5 white settlers and scalped them, after they encroached his land, and it’s said he killed 10 others before from a native tribe that was at war with his, but then he was very lucky because his whole family and most of his cousins died of the smallpox. He thought the Christians were powerful and so he converted and intermarried with them”. The first case is a short, early struggle for survivalism with a quick road to success afterwards *if you work hard* but at least access to general freedom & opportunity *if you don’t*–let’s say 80% (conservative) are lucky here to get something tolerable out of the system, with varying success. The second case is survivalism all the way, and any comfort is severely diminished by a lack of freedom–only 40% are lucky here in the sense of not dying or being treated without dignity, although most aren’t freed anyway, and so the estimate is rather high. In the third case, the lucky portion goes down to 20-10%, as you can imagine, and it’s a sharp and sudden decline from 90% as soon as whites appear. One thing to emphasize here is that the term “lucky” here is relative and doesn’t fit one standard for each of the three cases. Attaining equal opportunity for non-whites had been a very slow process until the 1960s and there’s still some work to be done. Lastly, all this happened within recent memory: one on hand, “patriots” applaud Lincoln for ending slavery only 150 years ago, even though it was outlawed already in the “tyrannical Britain of mad King George” before the American Revolution. The whites needed to fight a war because of it but even the Union was reluctant to have many Black soldiers join (there were riots, I think). On the other hand, the last “state in the union” was formed about a hundred years ago, and we know how that was done: settlers/pioneers move in freely, fight natives, government intervenes, government brandishes weapons or fights natives, and government signs treaty and allocates “reservation”. And now all of a sudden there are complaints that Hispanics are doing the same and more in America and Europe is implicating itself into the game and adopting the same discourse. May the Gods protect Europe because the US must not be allowed to sacrifice it in order to survive in its old imperial & Christian path. I would see 100,000 USAs fall & shatter to pieces for the sake of indigenism in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

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  4. K

    One thing that bothers me about the Spanish case is that by the Mexican’s own standards the Spanish did nothing wrong. The Mexicans sacrificed their captives, enslaved them, skinned them alive, even ate them. The Mexicans ruled their area because they were the strongest. The Spanish killed those who opposed them, enslaved some, but without the sacrificing and cannibalism. If I were to condemn the Spanish for that, I would have to condemn the Mexicans even more. If I was being even handed, anyway, I have no reason to care about either side. By their own moral system, conquest and slavery were good. It was part of their religion. The main difference is that the Spanish followed another vicious religion and they were better at conquering than the Mexicans. If the Mexicans had disease come and kill their enemies but spare them, they would have considered it to be a sign from their gods. They would not have felt guilty about it. Well, the Spanish were Catholics, I don’t like Catholicism very much. And the Mexicans were not hypocrites, they did as they considered right while the Spanish were following a very confusing moral code(slay all that breathe-Yahweh, Blessed are the peacemakers-Jesus) and trampling over part of it.

    I don’t bother complaining about what is happening in Europe on moral grounds. The people moving in, particularly Muslim Pakistanis and Arabs, mostly do not care about such things. Europeans are most worthy of blame for allowing it to happen and believing the propaganda that facilitates it. Everyone likes to use rights as justifications for their side, like the Palestinians versus the Jews. The Palestinians claim that human rights and some other rights are on their side. The Jews have little regard for the Palestinians, but if it were the other way around they would do worse to the Jews. The US has done a lot to destroy Syria and other countries on the pretense of human rights. Western hypocrisy on this is something I am aware of. However, ideas like slavery being wrong, equality, international law, human rights, those are a legacy of Western power. When Western power fails those will go too. I see no reason why slavery would not still be as common as it was before if a few European countries had not ended it. And yet Europeans are attacked for having slavery for a few centuries by groups of people that were even bigger slavers and that never even made noises about ending slavery. They ended it at gunpoint from European armies. I don’t care about the concept called the West, but I don’t want it to drag Europeans down with it. I think the US will eventually break down into smaller states.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      The modern Mexicans have been generally “brainwashed” into thinking the Spaniards were their saviors. Lately I saw Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto that you referred me to and he conveys the same idea, although with shrewd subtlety. Many Hispanics praised the film for its respectful depiction, but others less aligned with Catholicism noted its tendency to justify colonialism, as I did also. However, the merit of Gibson’s film is that it presents two different sides of the “Mexican” society, i.e. urban civilized and indigenous/tribal. The large scale of violence we see (although exaggerated) was mainly part of the urban culture, whereas tribal violence was of lesser scale and highly ritualized, though sometimes still cruel. But in any case, there’s a vast difference between enslaving people intermittently within the same culture (or a neighboring one) and going out of your way to enslave people en masse from another part of the world. One of the main objections I have towards urban civilizations, most of all the Christian West and Islamic Middle East (because they are the most powerful), is the imperialism and hypocrisy associated with its seemingly good actions. Then, we should also remember that there are two forms of cruelty and slavery: the corporeal and the spiritual/mental. The Western materialism has since totally sedated the world with the first kind, but it undermines its achievement by exceling more than any other society in the perpetuation of the second sort. This is the great paradox of the West and the modern times. We must sooner or later dissociate imperial/colonial/Christian concept of “the West” from Europe and dissociate the US from Europe and if possible, the US from the West. We must also dissociate the Western term “white” from peoples of European ancestry. And joined with the dissociation, we must add plenty of criticism: The West, with almost all its derivates, is inherently corrupted (as is also the Islamic system) and a new pluralistic order must rise from its ashes. I hope we can call that order “polytheism”.

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      1. K

        One of the reasons that most condemnation of the West annoys me is because the ideologies of those doing it are usually a result of the West. Whether it is free trade, capitalism, socialism, human rights, anti-slavery, feminism, equality, secularism, those are products of the West. They attack the West for not living up to standards created by the West, and act like others are better those same standards when they aren’t. You might know that saying about sawing the tree limb you are sitting on. If they want to really be against the West they need to stand outside of its value system.

        What is so bad spiritually about the West? I don’t think I have seen you specify anything like that.

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      2. Melas the Hellene Post author

        No need to be annoyed, unless you are a nationalist. I used to think the same as you do when I was formerly pro-America and patriotism. What I have since learned is that the West, like any empire or imperial system that is expansive and inclusive (those terms are synonymous in times of peace), is bound to become conflicted and rebellious within itself, leading to gradual decay, disillusion and division. Let’s not forget that Communism is also a product of West, as is anarchism, modern mass warfare, weapons of mass destruction, corporate capitalism, environmental destruction, mass religious persecution, and large-scale slavery. I don’t think we need to thank the West for creating imperfect solutions (such as those you list, which in some cases are complications more than solutions) after creating massive problems. Not at least we free people who have been subjected to it by force and whose souls & minds are forced to follow along like cattle to survive. Western ideas and culture, being held up as the absolute standard, are being shoved down everyone’s throat, and people are bound to vomit & resist. It’s a matter of freedom, dignity, self-preservation and self-determination, and it runs parallel to the struggle of polytheism against monotheism. The west (or any other imperial system in its place) must be challenged, corrected and curbed, and it is only natural and inevitable to do so. And I am not so sure if the world would be so much worse under China (as Westerners would claim) than it already is. The planet is nearly ruined and culture is decaying. At least the Chinese have an ancient, homogeneous civilization that gives them confidence and allows them to value the past as much as the future–they won’t act like the Mongols under Genghis Khan or the Japanese imperialists, because they have a reputation to keep. Whatever faults they are doing or did (under Mao for example) is at least partly the result of a frustrated reaction to the Western ideas, influence and domination. It’s hypocritical of the West to demand of China to reduce emissions (and condemn it when it doesn’t) when they had created the system and risen to high power earlier by enjoying it solely.

        N.B. The above is not an argument for Islamic terrorism and resistance, because although people in Muslim countries have a point in that their native culture (not necessarily Islamic) is being replaced unfairly, Islamic imperialism is still a very dangerous system that is sometimes far more toxic than the west.

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