A bit of comic relief: What can happen when modern journalists start offering versions of the current culturally mandated "first Thanksgiving lies and legends" tale?
Before discussing Fortune and the New York Times, let's enjoy some comic relief.
Last Friday, we made a classic mistake. Puzzled by some of Charles Blow's sourcing; further puzzled by the lengthy quotation he published from Fortune, a lengthy quotation which, on its face, didn't seem to make any sense—
Puzzled by these puzzling aspects of Blow's latest puzzling column, we decided to check out the facts.
Given the way modern "journalism" works, this is almost always a mistake. In this case, we were led down the psychedelic pathways of pseudo-liberal "Thanksgiving myths" scripting, an offshoot of critical theory.
Eventually, we were offered a link to Bustle, "an online American women's magazine founded in August 2013 by Bryan Goldberg" which, by September 2016, "had 50 million monthly readers" and almost as many employees. Or so the leading authority on the Bustle phenomenon says!
In fairness, Bustle isn't the New York Times. But the Times comes amazingly close.
At any rate, we found ourselves confronted with a link to Bustle. Like teenagers in Halloween horror films who can't stop going into the basement, we robotically decided that we should click that link.
We had been offered a gateway to Bustle! Arriving at the magazine, we found ourselves looking at this:
9 Myths About Thanksgiving & The Real Facts Behind ThemFinally! Finally, we were going to get the real facts about Thanksgiving! That said, before proceeding, let's get clear on the context:
By MIKA DOYLE / Nov 14, 2018
In the dolorous column which triggered our search, Blow said this: "I spent most of my life believing a gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving." He'd been disinformed when he was six and had never caught up with the facts!
Thanks to Bryan Goldberg and Bustle, online American women wouldn't be consigned to that fate! Unfortunately, the "9 Myths" report to which we'd been taken turned out to be a crazy-quilt array of semi-coherent debunkings drawn from a wide array of weirdly misparaphrased sources.
On a journalistic basis, the Bustle piece is phantasmagorically inept. Believe it or not, this was the first "myth" the magazine's Mika Doyle debunked, along with her full revision:
Myth 1: The Pilgrims Founded A Settlement on Plymouth RockYes, that's what it actually said! For starters, let's start here:
According to the stories you heard in history class, the Mayflower sailed to the New World and started a new life on Plymouth Rock. What your teachers didn't tell you is that the Mayflower ended up in the wrong place, according to History. The settlers were supposed to go to Virginia, but they ended up in Massachusetts.
Not only that, Plymouth Rock originally wasn't unoccupied. Normally, when Europeans sailed to New England in the mid-1610s, it was so packed with Native American communities that there wasn't any room for new settlements, says National Geographic. But an epidemic—which is still unexplained to this day—wiped out the Native American coastal communities about three years earlier, so the settlers basically landed in a cemetery and immediately began raiding it for food and supplies, according to National Geographic.
Did anyone ever actually think that the Pilgrims had actually founded a settlement right on Plymouth Rock? We don't think anyone ever thought that. We don't think that was a myth!
Still, that was the very first myth Doyle set out to debunk. But uh-oh! By the start of her second paragraph, she seemed to be saying that "Plymouth Rock" had been an actual locality—a locality which had originally been occupied by Native Americans.
Full disclosure! We aren't sure how Doyle's two paragraphs were supposed to have debunked her alleged "myth." Meanwhile, just for the record, Bustle isn't a parody site. We're showing you what one of its actual journalists wrote at this time last year.
As for various other claims found within Doyle's first debunking, we'll offer a word of warning:
Do not start clicking on Doyle's various links to try to figure things out! Madness awaits you down the road on which you try to decipher her claims, including the claim that the epidemic to which she refers "is still unexplained," or the claim in which you're told, somewhat oddly, that the Pilgrims immediately began raiding a cemetery for food.
(We clicked through two layers of links to try to see where that came from. But please—don't do what we've done!)
If you value your sanity, do not try to check those claims! But as a bit of comic relief, enjoy and marvel at the fact that 50 million monthly readers were finally permitted to know that Native Americans once occupied Plymouth Rock, even though the Pilgrims didn't found a settlement on it.
Bustle's "first Thanksgiving" debunking reads like debunking on acid. And uh-oh! Inevitably, Doyle took some of her material from Fortune's 2017 debunking of various Thanksgiving "lies and legends"—the same debunking the dolorous Blow quoted at substantial, puzzling length in last week's dolorous column.
At this point, a troubling fact may start to swim into view—it isn't all that long a voyage from Bustle to the modern New York Times! With the bulk of our comic relief behind us, let's return to the questions we had when we first read Blow's column.
As we noted yesterday, Blow started with a peculiar passage in which he debunked his own "first myth" with a somewhat peculiar complaint. As you may recall, this is the passage in question:
BLOW (11/28/19): What is widely viewed as the first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast to which the Pilgrims had invited the local Wampanoag people as a celebration of the harvest.As we noted yesterday, we have no idea why anyone is supposed to care about who provided "the bulk of the food" at the so-called first Thanksgiving. This seems like debunking for the sake of debunking, a standard element in the frequently ridiculous "lies and legends" pieces which mainly seek to annoy the public so much that they'll go out and re-elect Trump.
About 90 came, almost twice the number of Pilgrims. This is the first myth: that the first Thanksgiving was dominated by the Pilgrim and not the Native American. The Native Americans even provided the bulk of the food, according to the Manataka American Indian Council.
That said, we were puzzled by the sourcing for Blow's apparently pointless claim. The Manataka American Indian Council? Who in the world is that? And why are we supposed to assume that they would know who provided the bulk of the food at the first Thanksgiving, an event which occurred in 1621?
For today, we'll only say this. Last Friday, we fired up the Google machine and tried to puzzle that out. We also looked at the Fortune piece the dolorous Blow had quoted at great length is his dolorous column.
One year before, at Bustle, Doyle had cited that same Fortune piece. Like Blow, she transferred the ball of confusion published by Fortune to her own acid-flecked piece.
For today, we think we'll leave it there, though we'll offer a word of warning. If you decide to Google the Manataka American Indian Council, you may find yourself taken to some rather odd places.
The notion that the New York Times is treating this peculiar organization as a prime source of historical knowledge—well, you might as well try to build a journalism school right there on Plymouth Rock.
There's a major fact that's floating here, and a possible bit of despair. The despair could flow from a person's willingness the understand how spectacularly stupid so much of our "journalism" actually is.
The despair could flow from a person's willingness to see who and what the New York Times actually is, not to mention Fortune. It could flow from the transformative anthropological fact your lizard brain hopes you'll never be willing to grasp:
Our modern "liberal" elites are hapless, incompetent, tribal, inane, largely nonhuman all the way down. The Pilgrims lived in the 1620s. What's our current excuse?
Tomorrow: The Manataka American Indian Council—and that pitiful posting at Fortune