MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2022
A deeply painful framework: Thanksgiving is the cruelest month! In his famous poem, Eliot simply wasn't willing to acknowledge this painful fact!
We came to this painful realization over the recent holidays. In particular, we came to this realization as we read some columns by Professor David Silverman, and as we watched him on several (highly informative) C-Span interview programs.
Who is David Silverman? According to his official bio at George Washington University, he's a professor of Early America and Native America.
Beyond that, the official bio lists four areas of expertise: Native American [sic], Colonial and Revolutionary America, the Early Modern World, and Imperialism and Colonialism.
That covers a lot of ground! His capsule bio says this:
David J. Silverman (Ph.D., Princeton, 2000) specializes in Native American, Colonial American, and American racial history. His most recent book is This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, published by Bloomsbury in 2019.
He is also the author of Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America (Cambridge, MA., 2016); Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America (Ithaca, 2010), and Faith and Boundaries: Colonists, Christianity, and Community among the Wampanoag Indians of Martha’s Vineyard, 1600-1871 (New York, 2005), and co-author of Ninigret, the Niantic and Narragansett Sachem: Diplomacy, War, and the Balance of Power in Seventeenth-Century New England and Indian Country (Ithaca, 2014).
His essays have won major awards from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the New York Association of History.
In addition to the four areas of expertise we've mentioned, we're also told, in that passage, that Silverman specializes in a fifth area—"American racial history."
Those five areas of specialization cover a very large amount of deeply forested ground! Having said that, and for whatever it's worth, Silverman strikes us as being highly learned concerning various aspects of our nation's cruelest month.
With his 2019 book about "the troubled history of Thanksgiving"—see the capsule bio above— Silverman became the go-to guy for information about our so-called "First Thanksgiving." He also became a go-to guy concerning what happened next.
We aren't specialists at this site, but it sems to us that Silverman is extremely learned about those topics. We learned a lot of as we watched him on those C-Span interview programs—but we also thought we might have seen a certain unhelpful blue tribe framework rearing its unhelpful head.
Each year now, during our cruelest month, we Americans are subjected to a certain narration concerning that First Thanksgiving. For an overview of Silverman's approach, we'll recommend the guest essay he wrote for the New York Times in November 2019.
The essay was published in conjunction with his 2019 book. The essay discusses what actually happened on that so-called First Thanksgiving—but it also discusses events which took place some 55 years later, events which may not be an obvious part of that so-called first feast.
The essay covered a lot of ground. It appeared beneath this unfriendly headline:
The Vicious Reality Behind the Thanksgiving Myth
Just for the record, that's the headline which still appears online. In print editions, the headline on the essay said this:
The Vicious Myth of Thanksgiving
We don't know if Silverman wrote those aggressive headlines. Whoever may have composed the headlines, we'd say they convey a certain attitude—an attitude which will strike many voters as perhaps and possibly being a tiny touch "anti-Amerikan," at least in spirit and tone.
Needless to say, most of those voters will turn out to be racists, bigots, misogynists, homophobes. Still and all, those monsters get to vote—and so, here we all are!
Long ago and far away, Kevin Drum presented a list of seven things centrist voters don't like about us blue tribe members. As you may recall, his last two points were these:
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.
We continued to think about those last two points as we struggled through our cruelest month last week.
We learned a lot from watching David Silverman on a pair of C-Span programs! We also thought we may have heard the slightest hint of a certain unhelpful blue tribe framework—a framework which may not always seem to make perfect sense on the merits, and which may be losing us votes.
That sprawling framework emerges from our nation's deeply painful, brutal racial history. What name would we place on that sprawling framework—a sprawling framework to which our blue tribe is now exclusively wed?
For starters, we'd be inclined to call it "The demographication of everything." It tends to be regulated by our floundering tribe's racialization rules.
Tomorrow: A look at Silverman's essay