THE DEMOGRAPHICATION RULES: Thanksgiving is the cruelest month!


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


  1. "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."

    Is Somerby saying that the facts skew blue and he doesn't like that fact?

  2. "They want us to stop talking like academics from another galaxy."

    So Centrists, like the Right, hate freedom of speech.

    1. Those academics from another galaxy invented the word demographication, I think.


  3. Thanks for documenting this tiny portion of the recent liberal atrocities, dear Bob. for Mr. Silverman and his 'academic' ilk, do you think it might be possible -- under a different socioeconomic regime, obviously -- to somehow incentivize them to get involved in actual productive labor? Just a little bit. To produce at least a minor, a tiny portion of what they consume?

    Any thoughts on this, dear Bob? We, here, are not optimistic at all...

    1. Like the banksters, who Trump gave that HUGE tax break to.
      Yeah, Bob. Any thoughts on why the economically anxious Republican voters, who are definitely not just straight-up bigots, applauded Trump for his incentive to keep banks from actually producing something?

  4. If we had a vicious early history in our treatment of Native Americans (which Somerby marks with an unhelpful [sic], showing his own "attitude"), and that is a fact, why is Somerby so queasy about admitting it? How is it helpful to any of us to pretend that we did not do atrocious things to Indians in our "conquest" of our nation?

    Somerby says he sees a "blue framework" and that is unhelpful. What he perhaps means is that Thanksgiving has become politicized. But who has done that? If Indians and liberals want to admit the truth but conservatives do not, are we really the ones politicizing things, or is it the people who cling to the myths who are doing that?

    Truth has a reality of its own, separate from what people may want to believe. Insisting upon beliefs that conflict with reality is not a good idea. For one thing, reality always continues to exist, despite our best efforts. For another, sometimes reality can deal us harsh blows that we may not be ready for, unless we acknowledge what is real. That makes denial of reality a dangerous way to live one's life.

    A historian cannot have a career while denying what is true in his field. The rest of us come across as fools if we choose myth. Somerby is that kind of person, in my eyes, when he insists that we liberals must distort our beliefs isn order to placate the red tribe, which wants to believe its own pleasing narratives. And Somerby looks like a total fool for arguing that we should do that, even to win votes (which I'm not sure would happen).

    Clinical psychologists have a saying: "No collusion with a delusion." It means that you do not indulge the false beliefs of mentally ill people by pretending to believe the crazy things they insist are true. That applied to Republicans too. And if they don't like what really happened in our early history, they can close their eyes and celebrate Thanksgiving however they want to. But that doesn't mean we must rewrite history to suit them. Truth must be defended against revisionist idiots, and Somerby these days.

    1. “Clinical psychologists have a saying: "No collusion with a delusion."’


    2. Ask one and see.

    3. The logic of the thought is sound. That this phrase is that an actual idiom within the field is bunk.

    4. You don’t humor delusional people because it is not therapeutic. It is hard enoughfor delusional people to know what is real without the people they trust confusing reality for them, instead of giving them reliable feedback about what is real. Mental health staff from aides to nurses to doctors are trained to be honest with mentally ill people. Cecelia is wrong that this is not a saying, but there is a lot she doesn’t know.

    5. As I said, the gist of the phrase is logical within the field of psychology.

      The phrase (wording) was constructed by the anonymouse and is not an idiom.

  5. This post is pure misogyny.

    1. No, this one is anti-Native American, or more generally, anti historical truth. But thanks for playing.

    2. But madam, it's misogynistically antihistorical.

  6. Somerby’s post today is something out of Doug J Balloon (a parody account, btw):

    “I was an undecided centrist, then David Silverman told the truth about Thanksgiving. Now I have no choice but to vote Republican.”

  7. “Native American [sic]”

    We at the mh household prefer “Indians” [sic], because India is where Columbus thought he was.

    Of course, we also prefer “darkies” [sic] for “black” [sic], because it’s so colorful, and traditional. Reminds you of cool mint juleps and Civilizations [sic] Gone With the Wind.

    And who can forget the “white [sic] working class.”

    Also, “black achievement gaps” [sic].

    Also, there are “Jews” [sic] and “Christians” [sic], and “Americans” [sic] and “Andorrans” [sic] and “Chinese” [sic].

    All of us just people who shouldn’t concern themselves with their distinctive stories, like “the Pilgrims, who came here seeking “religious liberty” [sic] and to establish God’s [sic] kingdom eating turkey [sic] and cranberries [sic] with friendly and grateful Native Americans [sic].”

    The Pilgrims [sic] who, by the way, thought the celebration of Christmas was a sacrilege.

  8. From Wikipedia:

    “The annual Thanksgiving holiday tradition in the United States is documented for the first time in 1619, in what is now called the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thirty-eight English settlers aboard the ship Margaret arrived by way of the James River at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia on December 4, 1619. The landing was immediately followed by a religious celebration, specifically dictated by the group's charter from the London Company.”

    And yet, the Pilgrim/Indian story is the one everyone seems to associate with Thanksgiving.

    It seems to be important to promote the idea of some mythical harmony between European settlers and “Indians” in the US. Wonder why?

  9. "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."

    Demographication is not the right word to use for racialization. I'm sure Somerby understands that, or he should, but he likes inventing and redefining words, much as the right does with any term they think might be used by liberals. For example, there is CRT and grooming, a word that used to refer to maintaining a neat and healthy appearance. And virtue certainly meant something else before the right got hold of it.

    demographics definition: "statistical data relating to the population and particular groups within it"

    Groups can be defined any number of ways that have nothing to do with race. For example, people living in a specific suburb, Repubs vs Dems, people of different age groups (Gen X, Millenials), sports fans, vaccinated vs non-vaccinated, and so on, however you want to form a group.

    Somerby wants to pretend that we have no differences except the ones he considers important. Race isn't important to him because he is white and male. It is bothersome to him when someone who is less white and less male complains about their treatment, so he wants to suppress such talk. Warping the meanings of words doesn't tend to enhance communication, but he doesnt' care, as long as folks are using HIS favorite meanings it is all OK.

    I wonder if Somerby is aware that Native Americans are not all one big tribe? There might be demographics within that group, as there are different nationalities in Europe.

    1. Somerby is going to point to a post 2022 election data analysis that purports to show Dems losing black and latin voters. The problem is that analysis is weak, and Somerby will misinterpret it - perhaps willfully.

      Aside from Somerby being brain-damaged dumb about elections, one could note that for the black and latin vote to be determinative for Repubs, the swing would have to be on order of 30-40 points minimum - the very website Somerby will use will show this very thing.

      Why does Somerby's bitterness overrule his ability to reason with normal levels of rationality? Most likely some really bad shit went down when he was a child and he never got over it. Now society has to pay the price.

    2. Anonymouse 5:21pm has constructed a line of argument on behalf of Somerby and then responded to it with an invective filled attack.

      Saves time…