MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2022
The demographication rules: We're told that Thanksgiving occurs this week, presumably on a Thursday.
Inevitably, that meant it was time for the Washington Post to publish a certain, currently mandated glimmer and intimation.
We refer to the lengthy news report from which we'll quote below. It appeared in the online Post on Saturday morning. As far as we can tell, the lengthy report hasn't yet appeared in the paper's print editions.
The report was written by a young journalist—a young journalist who graduated from college this very year. We don't offer that as a criticism of this journalist. It does strike us as a possible comment on the possible cynicism of her editors at the Post.
As almost everyone knows, the lengthy report this young journalist wrote has become standard fare in the past few years. The mandated headline says this:
These Native Americans focus on family amid Thanksgiving’s dark history
By now, everyone knows what the various versions of this report are going to say. They're going to say that while we Anglos (and Afros?) love the holiday in question, it's a very painful occasion for (many?) Native Americans.
It's going to say that the traditional history is all wrong, which everyone already knows, and that vicious historical brutality followed from there.
Everyone already knows those things! But, to borrow from the famous old joke, while all these things have already been said, not every member of our tribe has had the chance to say them.
In this case, the report began as shown below. In the passage we've highlighted, we experienced our first point of puzzlement:
CHERY (11/19/22): For centuries, Thanksgiving has been billed as an opportunity for friends and family to gather, with peace and gratitude in their hearts. But for Native Americans, celebrating the autumnal holiday isn’t as simple.
The short-and-sweet story told in schools depicting the first Thanksgiving as a harmonious harvest celebration between Native people and Pilgrims “was a very romanticized, Whitewashed education about Indigenous peoples,” said Jordan Daniel, who’s a member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe.
In reality, 1621 was not the first celebration of Thanksgiving between the English and the Wampanoag people, said David Silverman, a George Washington University professor who specializes in Native American history. The Wampanoags tried to ally with the English for trade and to maintain political independence from another Native group after an epidemic dwindled their numbers.
“Tensions built for years as the English population grew and began dispossessing, subjugating and evangelizing Native people,” Silverman said. Finally, war broke out around 1675, and after the English won, they enslaved about 2,000 American Indian prisoners of war, he added.
In 1970, the United American Indians of New England began commemorating Thanksgiving Day as a National Day of Mourning to honor their ancestors who experienced cultural genocide at the hands of European colonialists.
Native Americans as a whole say they’re still fighting for what’s rightfully theirs...
Already, we were puzzled. According to the Post report, Professor Silverman had said that "1621 was not the first celebration of Thanksgiving between the English and the Wampanoag people" (our emphasis).
We were curious blue. Since the English (the "Pilgrims") had only settled in Wampanoag territory in 1620, we didn't know what previous celebration was being alluded to.
The remarks by Silverman which were actually quoted didn't speak to that question. Nor did we know why that claim would be relevant to the larger, spectacularly familiar story which was (once again) being told.
Skillfully, we clicked the link which appeared beneath the words, "In reality." We were taken to a version of this mandated new report which appeared in last year's Post.
(Last year's version: "In 1621, some pilgrims and some Wampanoags shared a feast. It wasn't the first meeting between the two groups and it wouldn't be the last, but for many reasons—including the American Civil War—the anniversary of that meal took on both an outsized importance and a whitewashed simplicity.")
Had Professor Silverman really said that the officially whitewashed "First Thanksgiving" actually wasn't "the first celebration of Thanksgiving between the English and the Wampanoag people?"
We have no idea. In fairness, that isn't a major point in the glimmer and intimation the Post was offering here.
What did we do on our pre-holiday weekend? In large part, we traumatized ourselves by spending hours looking at the proposed guidelines for the state of Virginia's public school social studies curriculum.
We're speaking here about the (barely readable) 402 pages of guidelines which had been formulated before Glenn Youngkin took over as Virginia's governor. For background on this very poorly-reported issue, see Saturday's report.
What did we find when we looked at those 402 pages of guidelines? We saw the nightmare of incoherence and pomposification which seems to emerge from our blue tribe's public school leadership cadres whenever they're given the chance.
We suffered flashbacks from our interactions with similar posthuman pseudo-verbiage dating back to the 1970s. The traumatization remains, but we'll probably try to force ourselves to return to this topic, if only briefly, in the days to come.
We spent some time fighting our way through that punishing verbiage. We also wandered about, as we now do every year, in the current mandated version of the Thanksgiving story.
That version has replaced the "whitewashed" version which may (or may not?) still prevail in the nation's schools. That new version of the Thanksgiving story now appears in our major newspapers every year.
What did we find when we tilled those fields? We found glimmers and intimations of the way our own blue tribe struggles to keep The Other Tribe from voting in the ways we'd prefer.
We'd also say that we saw glimmers of our tribe's demographication rules, which we expect to describe in the days and weeks ahead.
Alas! We were reminded of the last two points on Kevin Drum's recent seven-point list—two of the things centrist voters (and, presumably, conservatives) allegedly don't like about us:
Drum: "Things centrist voters don't like about us"
Point 6: They think wokeness is ridiculous. They want us to stop talking like academics from another galaxy.
Point 7: They do not like being called racist.
In some ways, we thought about the first of those points when we reread this interview with Professor Silverman—an interview conducted by the Smithsonian back in 2019.
Just to be completely honest, we also thought about this:
We thought about the Native American kids who will be born tomorrow. We thought about the various ways their interests may or may not best be served.
We thought about the various ways various peoples around the world sometimes have and haven't dealt with the unmistakable facts of the world's unmistakably brutal history. We'll admit that we thought about the way some of those peoples may seem, at times, to cling to those brutal histories in way which may, or perhaps may not, best serve the planet's future.
What should children be taught about our nation's history in Virginia's schools? What might serve the interests of the children who will be born tomorrow all across this giant land?
There's a lot to ponder in the report that freshman journalist penned for the Post! On the whole, she was simply reworking a current standard story—a current story which is replacing an earlier standard story.
In the process, was she producing a helpful new mandated story for readers to memorize? Does this process serve the interests of the nation as a whole—of the children born tomorrow?
Tomorrow: Continuing in the Post's current report:
"Native Americans as a whole say they’re still fighting for what’s rightfully theirs. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe still doesn’t have control over their entire ancestral land."