Archive for the Official US Holidays from hell Category

What to the Native is the Fourth of July? [Bermudaradical blog]

Posted in Genocide, Official US Holidays from hell, US imperialism, USA on July 5, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Posted by Enaemaehkiw Túpac Keshena

July 4, 2011

This is what it sounds like when Jaguars cry. This is what it feels like when the Eagles fly. This is what it looks like to watch them all die. This is what it tastes like everytime you lie.

– Los Nativos, “An Eagle Named Chango”

To borrow a phrase from the great African revolutionary leader and martyr Malcolm X, ever since white power washed up on our shores our people have suffered all forms of colonization, oppression, exploitation, degradation, humiliation, discrimination and every other kind of ation.  Now the settlers even build border fences militarized by violent colonial para-military forces to try and keep part of our Native family out of our collective home land.  We call them brother, sister and cousin.  They are us, and we are them, but the colonial white power government calls them illegal immigrants.  According to white power they are aliens in their (our) own land.

Extermination, subjugation and colonization of cultures and people is what the Fourth of July means not only to us but also to our African brothers and sisters and every other colonized person in that rotten settler empire.  But guess what Amerikkka?  This is all Indian land. Always was.  Still is.  And it always will be.  You are the real illegals. The end of time draws near for you and the rest of the North American white settler nation.  So while you’re off celebrating today we’ll be stockpiling canons [sic].

Link here

Advertisements

Obama uses Memorial Day speech to rehabilitate Vietnam War [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, CIA, Germany, Historical myths of the US, Iraq, Nazism, Obama, Official US Holidays from hell, Pentagon, Psychological warfare, US foreign occupation, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Vietnam, War crimes, World War II on June 26, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Bill Van Auken
30 May 2012

President Barack Obama chose the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC as the site for a Memorial Day speech in which he sought to rehabilitate the Vietnam War.

The speech was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first time US forces were deployed in a major combat operation inside the country in 1962, and served to kick off what is projected as a 13-year-long commemoration of that war. The commemoration, mandated by the US Congress, is being orchestrated by the Defense Department.

The appearance dovetailed with the Obama campaign’s efforts to identify the Democratic president with the armed forces and militarism in order to outflank his Republican rival from the right. It served a deeper purpose, however. Exorcising the ghosts of Vietnam has been a burning objective of America’s ruling class for nearly four decades.

At the heart of Obama’s speech was the hoary and reactionary myth that the approximately 1.5 million troops who saw combat in Vietnam were treated as pariahs and excoriated as war criminals and “baby killers” by the broad sections of the population that opposed the war.

“You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor,” Obama told the crowd, which included a number of Vietnam veterans, assembled in front of the wall bearing the names of nearly 60,000 US troops killed in the war.

“You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again,” the president continued.

The “national shame” and “disgrace” that earned the United States the hatred of hundreds of millions of people around the world was the war itself, a genocidal enterprise that took the lives of some 4 million Vietnamese.

In a flight of rhetorical fancy, Obama insisted that America must “celebrate” key battles of Vietnam on a par with the Normandy invasion or the battle for Iwo Jima during World War II. Among the specific episodes he cited was “Rolling Thunder,” the 1965 to 1968 bombing campaign against North Vietnam that dropped 864,000 tons of high explosives on the impoverished former colonial country. It killed, according to the CIA’s undoubtedly conservative estimates, 90,000 Vietnamese, 72,000 of whom were civilians. This savage bombardment, which destroyed schools, hospitals and villages, was one of the many war crimes perpetrated by US imperialism in over a decade of war.

Obama’s narrative ignored the reality that large numbers of US troops in Vietnam opposed the war. Among those who returned, not a small number joined the massive demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of US troops. Deep-going dissension among the troops in Vietnam led to widespread incidents of “fragging” [grenade attacks] on overly zealous commanding officers and other acts of overt rebellion that hastened the war’s end, as Washington feared losing control of its own army.

The lie that the mistreatment of veterans was the fault of a misguided public, or more pointedly of the antiwar movement, serves to cover up the reality that the government itself was to blame. Having subjected troops sent into combat to horrific conditions, it received the hundreds of thousands who returned suffering physical and mental wounds with callous indifference and inadequate support.

Obama insisted that “because of the hard lessons of Vietnam” we “take care of our veterans better.” However, the principal lesson learned by the US ruling establishment was that a conscript army posed unacceptable dangers of popular democratic and antiwar sentiments seeping into America’s war machine. It therefore moved to an “all volunteer” military. Volunteer or conscript, however, both then and now, troops have been treated as cannon fodder and disposable commodities.

Among the indices of the supposedly “better” conditions for US military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is an unemployment rate last year of 12.1 percent, with the jobless rate of those recently returned at nearly 30 percent. Some 75,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, while 1.5 million live in poverty. An estimated 300,000 veterans of America’s two most recent wars are returning home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries. On average, 18 veterans a day are taking their own lives.

Obama said the 50th anniversary commemorations he was inaugurating with his speech would give Washington “another chance to set the record straight” on Vietnam. “This is one more way we keep perfecting our Union—setting the record straight.”

On the contrary, Obama’s aim is to facilitate the falsification of history so as to whitewash the crimes of American imperialism.

The official campaign will not provide some new insight into the past or a more truthful account of the Vietnam War and its horrors. It will instead seek to exploit sympathy for veterans to exonerate the criminals in the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon responsible for slaughtering millions. For nearly 40 years, the US ruling class has sought to bury and sanitize a history that ties it to the worst war crimes since the fall of the Nazis.

It is also an attempt to shatter the deep-seated hostility to wars of aggression that was the key domestic legacy of US imperialism’s debacle in Vietnam. This has been an objective of US presidents from Richard Nixon on: to erase the memory of a US imperialist defeat under conditions of mass opposition and social struggles at home. It was George H.W. Bush who, at the end of the 1991 Gulf War, triumphantly proclaimed, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”

The two wars launched in the aftermath of 9/11, however, proved such triumphalism to be unjustified. Hostility to both wars grew steadily, and today polls show popular opposition to the war in Afghanistan at 66 percent, just above the record high of 65 percent against the Vietnam War in 1971.

Toward the end of his remarks, Obama declared that “honoring Vietnam veterans” means “never forgetting the lessons of that war.”

What are those lessons? According to Obama, they are the need for “a clear mission,” a “sound strategy,” giving the military “the equipment they need to get the job done,” and the resolve that when sending troops to fight, “We will have their backs.”

These are the conclusion of a Democratic president who was swept into office largely on a wave of hostility to the wars begun by his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. They suggest that had the US military been equipped with the proper mission, strategy and equipment—nuclear weapons?—it could have prevailed in Vietnam. There is the clear implication that the US defeat resulted from a “stab in the back” by an unworthy population and defeatist politicians—an echo of the infamous theory promoted by the Nazis after Germany’s defeat in World War I.

For decades, the Democratic Party has beat a cowardly retreat in the face of Republican accusations that its anti-war wing was responsible for the defeat in Vietnam. Obama, it appears, is determined to adopt the Republican indictment as his own.

Obama’s Memorial Day speech makes it clear once again that his administration is an instrument of Wall Street and the US military and intelligence apparatus. The deeply reactionary and dishonest speech must be taken as a warning. If America’s ruling establishment is determined to rehabilitate the Vietnam War it is because it wants to prepare public opinion for even bloodier wars and more horrific crimes.

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/may2012/viet-m30.shtml

“Fahrenheit 11/11/11” by David Swanson – ‘Armistice Day’ warped into Warmongering Day [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Nazism, Official US Holidays from hell, US imperialism, USA on November 11, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Nov. 8, 2011

warisacrime.org

Believe it or not, November 11th was not made a holiday in order to celebrate war, support troops, or cheer the 11th year of occupying Afghanistan. This day was made a holiday in order to celebrate an armistice that ended what was up until that point, in 1918, one of the worst things our species had thus far done to itself, namely World War I.

World War I, then known simply as the world war or the great war, had been marketed as a war to end war. Celebrating its end was also understood as celebrating the end of all wars. A ten-year campaign was launched in 1918 that in 1928 created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, legally banning all wars. That treaty is still on the books, which is why war making is a criminal act and how Nazis came to be prosecuted for it.

“[O]n November 11, 1918, there ended the most unnecessary, the most financially exhausting, and the most terribly fatal of all the wars that the world has ever known. Twenty millions of men and women, in that war, were killed outright, or died later from wounds. The Spanish influenza, admittedly caused by the War and nothing else, killed, in various lands, one hundred million persons more.” — Thomas Hall Shastid, 1927.

According to U.S. Socialist Victor Berger, all the United States had gained from participation in World War I was the flu and prohibition. It was not an uncommon view. Millions of Americans who had supported World War I came, during the years following its completion on November 11, 1918, to reject the idea that anything could ever be gained through warfare.

Sherwood Eddy, who coauthored “The Abolition of War” in 1924, wrote that he had been an early and enthusiastic supporter of U.S. entry into World War I and had abhorred pacifism. He had viewed the war as a religious crusade and had been reassured by the fact that the United States entered the war on a Good Friday. At the war front, as the battles raged, Eddy writes, “we told the soldiers that if they would win we would give them a new world.”

Eddy seems, in a typical manner, to have come to believe his own propaganda and to have resolved to make good on the promise. “But I can remember,” he writes, “that even during the war I began to be troubled by grave doubts and misgivings of conscience.” It took him 10 years to arrive at the position of complete Outlawry, that is to say, of wanting to legally outlaw all war. By 1924 Eddy believed that the campaign for Outlawry amounted, for him, to a noble and glorious cause worthy of sacrifice, or what U.S. philosopher William James had called “the moral equivalent of war.” Eddy now argued that war was “unchristian.” Many came to share that view who a decade earlier had believed Christianity required war. A major factor in this shift was direct experience with the hell of modern warfare, an experience captured for us by the British poet Wilfred Owen in these famous lines:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est

Pro patria mori.

The propaganda machinery invented by President Woodrow Wilson and his Committee on Public Information had drawn Americans into the war with exaggerated and fictional tales of German atrocities in Belgium, posters depicting Jesus Christ in khaki sighting down a gun barrel, and promises of selfless devotion to making the world safe for democracy. The extent of the casualties was hidden from the public as much as possible during the course of the war, but by the time it was over many had learned something of war’s reality. And many had come to resent the manipulation of noble emotions that had pulled an independent nation into overseas barbarity.

However, the propaganda that motivated the fighting was not immediately erased from people’s minds. A war to end wars and make the world safe for democracy cannot end without some lingering demand for peace and justice, or at least for something more valuable than the flu and prohibition. Even those rejecting the idea that the war could in any way help advance the cause of peace aligned with all those wanting to avoid all future wars — a group that probably encompassed most of the U.S. population.

As Wilson had talked up peace as the official reason for going to war, countless souls had taken him extremely seriously. “It is no exaggeration to say that where there had been relatively few peace schemes before the World War,” writes Robert Ferrell, “there now were hundreds and even thousands” in Europe and the United States. The decade following the war was a decade of searching for peace: “Peace echoed through so many sermons, speeches, and state papers that it drove itself into the consciousness of everyone. Never in world history was peace so great a desideratum, so much talked about, looked toward, and planned for, as in the decade after the 1918 Armistice.”

Let us try to revive some memory of that foreign world on the occasion of the latest “veterans day” this Friday in this brave new era of searching for more war.

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War” from which this is adapted.

Article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27533

Labor’s Demise As A Countervailing Power: “Labor Day” should be renamed “Corporation Day” or “War Day” [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Bill Clinton, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Early 21st Century global capitalist financial crisis' US origins, Economic crisis & decline, Fascism, George W. Bush, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Labor, Libya, Media cover-up, NATO, Nazism, Obama, Official US Holidays from hell, Pakistan, Serbia, Somalia, south Korea, Syria, Taiwan, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, Yemen, Yugoslavia - former FRY on September 4, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The USA is such a rogue, tearing “Labor Day” from it’s rightful placement on May 1. – ZS

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

September 3, 2011

It is Labor Day weekend, 2011, but labor has nothing to celebrate. The jobs that once gave American workers a stake in capitalism [sic] have left and gone away. Corporations in pursuit of near-term profits have moved labor’s jobs to China, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea and Eastern Europe.

Labor arbitrage, that is, the substitution of foreign labor that is paid less than its productivity for American labor, has enriched Wall Street, shareholders and corporate CEOs, but it has devastated American employment, household incomes, tax base, and the outlook for the US economy.

This Labor Day week-end’s job report, announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday, September 2, says zero net new jobs were created in August, a number 250,000 less than the amount of monthly job creation necessary to make progress in reducing America’s high rate of unemployment.

The zero figure is actually an optimistic number. As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, problems with the BLS’s seasonal adjustments and “birth-death” model during the prolonged downturn that began in December 2007 result in the BLS over-estimating new jobs and underestimating lost jobs.

Seasonal adjustments and the “birth-death” model were designed with a growing economy in mind and result in miscounts during downturns. For example, the “birth-death” model estimates new jobs that are created from new start-up companies that are not yet reporting, and it estimates the job losses from companies that have gone out of business. In a growing economy, start-ups exceed jobs losses, but the situation reverses during downturns or during periods of sub-normal job growth. For the past forty-four months, the “birth-death” model has overestimated the number of new jobs created. When the annual revisions are made to the job reports, the excess jobs are taken out, but it is seldom headline news.

The reason that nearly four years of economic stimulus, consisting of large federal budget deficits and near zero interest rates, hasn’t revived the economy is that the jobs that Americans once had have been moved offshore. Stimulus cannot put Americans back to work in jobs that have been given to foreign countries…

…In a word, the US economy has been de-industrializing, moving from a developed to an underdeveloped economy, for the past two decades. It has been the case for many years that when the US economy manages to eke out new jobs, they are in non-tradable domestic services, such as health care and social assistance, waitresses and bar tenders, retail clerks. Non-tradable employment consists of jobs that do not produce goods and services that could be exported to reduce the large US trade deficit.

The long-term deterioration in the US economy has been covered up by “reforming” the official measures of unemployment and inflation. The U3 measure of unemployment, the current 9.1% unemployment rate, only measures unemployment among those who are actively seeking a job. Those who have become discouraged by the inability to find a job and have ceased looking are not counted as being among the unemployed, and the U3 measure makes no adjustment for those who are forced into part-time jobs because there is no full-time employment.

The government knows that the U3 “headline” unemployment rate is seriously understated and provides a broader measure known as U6. This measure, which is seldom reported by the financial media, includes short-term discouraged workers (those who have not looked for jobs for six months or less) and an adjustment for those who wish full time employment but can only find part time work. Currently, this measure of unemployment stands at 16.2%.

In 1994 the Clinton “progressive” administration defined long-term discouraged workers out of existence. Consequently, no official unemployment rate includes long-term (more than six months) discouraged workers as unemployed. John Williams estimates this number and adds it to the U6 measure to produce a current rate of US unemployment of 22.7%, an unemployment rate 2.5 times higher than the official rate. [http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts ]

Similar understatement exists in the measure of inflation known as the Consumer Price Index. In order to reduce cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security checks and to hold down other inflation adjustments, the “progressive” Clinton administration accepted the Boskin Commission’s recommendation to introduce substitution into what had been a fixed, weighted, basket of goods used to measure the cost of a constant standard of living. In the new “reformed” measure, if the price of an item increases, say New York strip steak, the index assumes that consumers switch to a less expensive cut, such as round steak. Thus, the price increase doesn’t show up in the CPI.

Consumers, or a number of them, do tend to behave in this way. However, since the basket of goods comprising the CPI is no longer constant, but changes with price changes, the CPI has become a variable measure of the cost of living that reduces the inflation rate by measuring a lower standard of living.

John Williams estimates the CPI according to the previous official methodology that used a fixed basket of goods. He finds the rate of inflation to be much higher than is reported by the substitution-based methodology. [http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts]

The understatement of inflation serves to boost real Gross Domestic Product growth. In order to compare how much larger (or smaller) the economy is this year compared to last year, the GDP figure has to be adjusted for inflation. If the economy grew 5% in nominal terms and inflation was 3%, then GDP grew 2% in real terms, that is, real goods and services, as opposed to mere price rises, increased 2% over the year.

When John Williams [http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/gross-domestic-product-charts] adjusts US GDP with the former or traditional measure of inflation, he finds that there has been no growth in real GDP for several years. In other words, during the period of “economic recovery” the economy has actually been declining.

American economic decline began with offshoring during the Clinton administration. Instead of addressing this threat, the Clinton administration launched the neoconservative program of American Empire with American and NATO naked aggression against Serbia, sending the Serbian leader off to be tried as a war criminal for resisting the dissolution of his country.

The Bush/Cheney regime elevated the pursuit of American Empire under cover of “the war on terror.” Based entirely on lies and falsified intelligence, Bush/Cheney launched wars against the Taliban, who were unifying Afghanistan, and against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

In the 1980s Hussein was used by Washington to launch a war against the revolutionary government in Iran that had overthrown the American puppet government, headed by the Shah of Iran. Ever since Washington lost its puppet rule over the Iranians, Washington has refused diplomatic relations with Iran. In the place of diplomatic relations, Washington demonizes Iran in order to set the country up for another attack a la Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. Syria is next.

Saddam Hussein’s service to Washington was overlooked when it became more important to eliminate support for Hamas and Hezbollah, two barriers to Israel’s expansion in the Middle East, than to maintain Washington’s gratitude to an Iraqi pawn.

Despite unequivocal reports from arms inspectors that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and most certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, top Bush/Cheney regime officials demonized Iraq as the greatest threat to America. The imagery of mushroom clouds from nuclear weapons was evoked, A war was launched entirely on false pretexts that destroyed a country and left over one million Iraqis dead and four million displaced. What Washington did to Iraq is what the Nazis were tried and executed for at the Nuremberg Trials.

Obama was elected in order to stop the illegal and senseless wars. Instead, Obama both continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and expanded the wars into Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen. Since the deregulation of the financial system under the Bush/Cheney regime and the “war on terror,” the entire economy of the US has been sacrificed for the benefit of the financial sector and the military/security complex.

Labor Day is an anachronism. It should be renamed Corporation Day or War Day to celebrate the success of Bush/Obama in eliminating labor unions as a countervailing power to corporate power and the elevation of War as the highest goal of the American state.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26356

Down on the Fourth of July: the United States of gloom [Telegraph]

Posted in Afghanistan, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, George W. Bush, Historical myths of the US, Iran, Iraq, Obama, Official US Holidays from hell, Pentagon, US imperialism, USA on July 5, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

All my adult life I found July 4 in the US as miserably insufferable as ex-slave Frederick Douglass did…what a hopeless monstrosity the nation has become. “Independence” is a sick joke when your nation has studded the world with military bases and a million other parasitic manifestations of oppression. Our Bomber’s “green shoots” turn out to be “greed sh*ts”. The system is “shovel-ready”, as in ready for shoveling into the incinerator. – Zuo Shou

by Toby Harnden

July 3, 2011

* Excerpted *

…a country whose hallmark has always been a sense of irrepressible optimism is in the grip of unprecedented uncertainty and self-doubt.

With the United States mired in three foreign wars [an undercount], beaten down by an economy that shows few signs of emerging from deep recession and deeply disillusioned with President Barack Obama, his Republican challengers and Congress, the mood is dark.

The last comparable Fourth of July was probably in 1980, when there was a recession, skyrocketing petrol prices and an Iranian hostage crisis, with 53 Americans being held in Tehran.

…Remarkably, many Americans think things will only get worse and the good times will never return.

A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 39 per cent think that “the current economic downturn is part of a long-term permanent decline and the economy will never fully recover”. That was up from 28 per cent last October. Last month, a CNN poll found that 48 per cent of Americans believe another Great Depression is somewhat or very likely.

[Pollster] Luntz has found that 44 per cent of Americans believe their country’s best days are in the past, 57 per cent that their children will not achieve the same quality of life, and 53 per cent that they are less free than five years ago. So what is going on? How did the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a country that less than three years ago elected a young, untested black man as president on a platform of hope and change, get into this funk?

The parlous state of the economy is only part of the explanation. More significant is the recession’s length. Obama’s promise of a national transformation after the Bush years, moreover, means that the thud of coming back down to earth has been that much harder.

The intoxicating atmosphere of the 2008 election and Obama’s inauguration has given way to a hangover. Americans were promised that the $787 billion Obama stimulus package would cut unemployment by funding so-called “shovel-ready projects”. Instead, unemployment is at 9.1 per cent compared to the 7.8 per cent Obama inherited, while the national deficit has tripled from less than $500 billion to a staggering $1.5 trillion.

To add insult to injury, at a recent gathering of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, during a discussion about the length of time it took to get projects funded, a smiling Obama interjected: “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” Members of the council sitting around him tittered but most Americans were not amused…

…But Americans do not just blame Obama; and the national malaise is to do with far more than one president. “Every institution in America has gone through a collapse,” says Luntz. “The Church is not what it was, thanks to all those religious scandals, the media is much less trusted today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Big business does not have credibility…”

Edited by Zuo Shou

Full article (contains considerable reactionary propaganda): http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyharnden/100095052/down-on-the-fourth-of-july-the-united-states-of-gloom/

Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving” [Oyate]

Posted in Historical myths of the US, Official US Holidays from hell, USA on November 25, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“Thanksgiving” is the worst official U.S. National holiday that I know of, and that’s from a substantial array of festivals of reactionary awfulness. It’s such a Big Lie, and understanding its falsity is crucial to understanding the pathology that lies at the root of the racist colonial-imperial US “experiment”, and developing an antidote to it. This is a longer-than-usual post because it’s of critical historical importance. – Zuo Shou 左手

Also see “Thanksgiving Day Celebrates A Massacre” [The Peoples Paths] http://www.thepeoplespaths.net/history/ThanksgivingDayMassacre.htm

Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving”

by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin
Revised 06/12/06

What is it about the story of “The First Thanksgiving” that makes it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive? Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the schoolyard? Why is it seen as necessary for fake “pilgrims” and fake “Indians” (portrayed by real children, many of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship? And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after year?

Is it because as Americans [sic] we have a deep need to believe that the soil we live on and the country on which it is based was founded on integrity and cooperation? This belief would help contradict any feelings of guilt that could haunt us when we look at our role in more recent history in dealing with other indigenous peoples in other countries. If we dare to give up the “myth” we may have to take responsibility for our actions both concerning indigenous peoples of this land as well as those brought to this land in violation of everything that makes us human. The realization of these truths untold might crumble the foundation of what many believe is a true democracy. As good people, can we be strong enough to learn the truths of our collective past? Can we learn from our mistakes? This would be our hope.

We offer these myths and facts to assist students, parents and teachers in thinking critically about this holiday, and deconstructing what we have been taught about the history of this continent and the world. (Note: We have based our “fact” sections in large part on the research, both published and unpublished, that Abenaki scholar Margaret M. Bruchac developed in collaboration with the Wampanoag Indian Program at Plimoth Plantation. We thank Marge for her generosity. We thank Doris Seale and Lakota Harden for their support.)

Myth #1: “The First Thanksgiving” occurred in 1621.

Fact: No one knows when the “first” thanksgiving occurred. People have been giving thanks for as long as people have existed. Indigenous nations all over the world have celebrations of the harvest that come from very old traditions; for Native peoples, thanksgiving comes not once a year, but every day, for all the gifts of life. To refer to the harvest feast of 1621 as “The First Thanksgiving” disappears Indian peoples in the eyes of non-Native children.

Myth #2: The people who came across the ocean on the Mayflower were called Pilgrims.

Fact: The Plimoth settlers did not refer to themselves as “Pilgrims.” Pilgrims are people who travel for religious reasons, such as Muslims who make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Most of those who arrived here from England were religious dissidents who had broken away from the Church of England. They called themselves “Saints”; others called them “Separatists.” Some of the settlers were “Puritans,” dissidents but not separatists who wanted to “purify” the Church. It wasn’t until around the time of the American Revolution that the name “Pilgrims” came to be associated with the Plimoth settlers, and the “Pilgrims” became the symbol of American morality and Christian faith, fortitude, and family. (1)

Myth #3: The colonists came seeking freedom of religion in a new land.

Fact: The colonists were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. By 1620, hundreds of Native people had already been to England and back, most as captives; so the Plimoth colonists knew full well that the land they were settling on was inhabited. Nevertheless, their belief system taught them that any land that was “unimproved” was “wild” and theirs for the taking; that the people who lived there were roving heathens with no right to the land. Both the Separatists and Puritans were rigid fundamentalists who came here fully intending to take the land away from its Native inhabitants and establish a new nation, their “Holy Kingdom.” The Plimoth colonists were never concerned with “freedom of religion” for anyone but themselves. (2)

Myth #4: When the “Pilgrims” landed, they first stepped foot on “Plymouth Rock.”

Fact: When the colonists landed, they sought out a sandy inlet in which to beach the little shallop that carried them from the Mayflower to the mainland. This shallop would have been smashed to smithereens had they docked at [“Plymouth Rock”]. Although the Plimoth settlers built their homes just up the hill from the Rock, William Bradford in “Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth”, does not even mention the Rock; writing only that they “unshipped our shallop and drew her on land.” (3) The actual “rock” is a slab of Dedham granodiorite placed there by a receding glacier some 20,000 years ago. It was first referred to in a town surveying record in 1715, almost 100 years after the landing. Since then, the Rock has been moved, cracked in two, pasted together, carved up, chipped apart by tourists, cracked again, and now rests as a memorial to something that never happened. (4)

It’s quite possible that the myth about the “Pilgrims” landing on a “Rock” originated as a reference to the New Testament of the Christian bible, in which Jesus says to Peter, “And I say also unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) The appeal to these scriptures gives credence to the sanctity of colonization and the divine destiny of the dominant culture. Although the colonists were not dominant then, they behaved as though they were.

Myth #5: The Pilgrims found corn.

Fact: Just a few days after landing, a party of about 16 settlers led by Captain Myles Standish followed a Nauset trail and came upon an iron kettle and a cache of Indian corn buried in the sand. They made off with the corn and returned a few days later with reinforcements. This larger group “found” a larger store of corn, about ten bushels, and took it. They also “found” several graves, and, according to Mourt’s Relation, “brought sundry of the prettiest things away” from a child’s grave and then covered up the corpse. They also “found” two Indian dwellings and “some of the best things we took away with us.” (5) There is no record that restitution was ever made for the stolen corn, and the Wampanoag did not soon forget the colonists’ ransacking of Indian graves. (6)

Myth #6: Samoset appeared out of nowhere, and along with Squanto became friends with the Pilgrims. Squanto [aka Tisquantum] helped the Pilgrims survive and joined them at “The First Thanksgiving.”

Fact: Samoset, an eastern Abenaki chief, was the first to contact the Plimoth colonists. He was investigating the settlement to gather information and report to Massasoit, the head sachem in the Wampanoag territory. In his hand, Samoset carried two arrows: one blunt and one pointed. The question to the settlers was: are you friend or foe? Samoset brought Tisquantum (Squanto), one of the few survivors of the original Wampanoag village of Pawtuxet, to meet the English and keep an eye on them. Tisquantum had been taken captive by English captains several years earlier, and both he and Samoset spoke English . Tisquantum agreed to live among the colonists and serve as a translator. Massasoit also sent Hobbamock and his family to live near the colony to keep an eye on the settlement and also to watch Tisquantum, whom Massasoit did not trust. The Wampanoag oral tradition says that Massasoit ordered Tisquantum killed after he tried to stir up the English against the Wampanoag. Massasoit himself lost face after his years of dealing with the English only led to warfare and land grabs. Tisquantum is viewed by Wampanoag people as a traitor, for his scheming against other Native people for his own gain. Massasoit is viewed as a wise and generous leader whose affection for the English may have led him to be too tolerant of their ways. (7)

Myth #7: The Pilgrims invited the Indians to celebrate the First Thanksgiving.

Fact: According to oral accounts from the Wampanoag people, when the Native people nearby first heard the gunshots of the hunting colonists, they thought that the colonists were preparing for war and that Massasoit needed to be informed. When Massasoit showed up with 90 men and no women or children, it can be assumed that he was being cautious. When he saw there was a party going on, his men then went out and brought back five deer and lots of turkeys. (8)

In addition, both the Wampanoag and the English settlers were long familiar with harvest celebrations. Long before the Europeans set foot on these shores, Native peoples gave thanks every day for all the gifts of life, and held thanksgiving celebrations and giveaways at certain times of the year. The Europeans also had days of thanksgiving, marked by religious services. So the coming together of two peoples to share food and company was not entirely a foreign thing for either. But the visit that by all accounts lasted three days was most likely one of a series of political meetings to discuss and secure a military alliance. Neither side totally trusted the other: the Europeans considered the Wampanoag soulless heathens and instruments of the devil, and the Wampanoag had seen the Europeans steal their seed corn and rob their graves. In any event, neither the Wampanoag nor the Europeans referred to this feast/meeting as “Thanksgiving.” (9)

Myth #8: The Pilgrims provided the food for their Indian friends.

Fact: It is known that when Massasoit showed up with 90 men and saw there was a party going on, they then went out and brought back five deer and lots of turkeys. Though the details of this event have become clouded in secular mythology, judging by the inability of the settlers to provide for themselves at this time and Edward Winslow’s letter of 1622 (10), it is most likely that Massasoit and his people provided most of the food for this “historic” meal. (11)

Myth #9: The Pilgrims and Indians feasted on turkey, potatoes, berries, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and popcorn.

Fact: Both written and oral evidence show that what was actually consumed at the harvest festival in 1621 included venison (since Massasoit and his people brought five deer), wild fowl, and quite possibly nasaump-dried corn pounded and boiled into a thick porridge, and pompion-cooked, mashed pumpkin. Among the other food that would have been available, fresh fruits such as plums, grapes, berries and melons would have been out of season. It would have been too cold to dig for clams or fish for eels or small fish. There were no boats to fish for lobsters in rough water that was about 60 fathoms deep. There was not enough of the barley crop to make a batch of beer, nor was there a wheat crop. Potatoes and sweet potatoes didn’t get from the south up to New England until the 18th century, nor did sweet corn. Cranberries would have been too tart to eat without sugar to sweeten them, and that’s probably why they wouldn’t have had pumpkin pie, either. Since the corn of the time could not be successfully popped, there was no popcorn. (12)

Myth #10: The Pilgrims and Indians became great friends.

Fact: A mere generation later, the balance of power had shifted so enormously and the theft of land by the European settlers had become so egregious that the Wampanoag were forced into battle. In 1637, English soldiers massacred some 700 Pequot men, women and children at Mystic Fort, burning many of them alive in their homes and shooting those who fled. The colony of Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay Colony observed a day of thanksgiving commemorating the massacre. By 1675, there were some 50,000 colonists in the place they had named “New England.” That year, Metacom, a son of Massasoit, one of the first whose generosity had saved the lives of the starving settlers, led a rebellion against them. By the end of the conflict known as “King Philip’s War,” most of the Indian peoples of the Northeast region had been either completely wiped out, sold into slavery, or had fled for safety into Canada. Shortly after Metacom’s death, Plimoth Colony declared a day of thanksgiving for the English victory over the Indians. (13)

Myth #11: Thanksgiving is a happy time.

Fact: For many Indian people, “Thanksgiving” is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, “Thanksgiving” is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.

Footnotes viewable at full article: http://www.oyate.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=129&Itemid=69

A salute to my friends observing the 2010 41st National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, Massachusetts today, and solidarity with all indigenous people in the “Americas”. Free Leonard Peltier!

Find out more about the National Day of Mourning and how to attend it at the United American Indians of New England website: http://www.uaine.org

After the US celebrates the ghastly myth of Columbus Day: “Examining the Reputation of Columbus” [Understandingprejudice.org]

Posted in Chattel Slavery, Cuba, Historical myths of the US, India, Official US Holidays from hell, Spain, U.K., USA on October 13, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手
” …In October, we [U.S. citizens] honor Christopher Columbus, who opened the Atlantic slave trade and launched one of the greatest waves of genocide known in history.”
 
So long past time to scuttle the twisted lie that is the U.S.’ Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead. – Zuo Shou 左手
 
Examining the Reputation of Columbus
 
 
An Essay by Jack Weatherford

Christopher Columbus’ reputation has not survived the scrutiny of history, and today we know that he was no more the discoverer of America than Pocahontas was the discoverer of Great Britain.  Native Americans had built great civilizations with many millions of people long before Columbus wandered lost into the Caribbean.

Columbus’ voyage has even less meaning for North Americans than for South Americans because Columbus never set foot on our continent, nor did he open it to European trade. Scandinavian Vikings already had settlements here in the eleventh century, and British fisherman probably fished the shores of Canada for decades before Columbus.  The first European explorer to thoroughly document his visit to North America was the Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto, who sailed for England’s King Henry VII and became known by his anglicized name, John Cabot.  Caboto arrived in 1497 and claimed North America for the English sovereign while Columbus was still searching for India in the Caribbean.  After three voyages to America and more than a decade of study, Columbus still believed that Cuba was a part of Asia, South America was only an island, and the coast of Central America was near the Ganges River.

Unable to celebrate Columbus’ exploration as a great discovery, some apologists now want to commemorate it as a great “cultural encounter.”  Under this interpretation, Columbus becomes a sensitive genius thinking beyond his time in the passionate pursuit of knowledge and understanding.  The historical record refutes this, too.

Contrary to popular legend, Columbus did not prove that the world was round; educated people had known that for centuries…Nevertheless, Americans have embroidered many such legends around Columbus, and he has become part of a secular mythology for schoolchildren.  Autumn would hardly be complete in U.S. elementary schools without construction-paper replicas of the three ships that Columbus sailed to America, or without drawings of Queen Isabella pawning her jewels to finance Columbus’ trip.

This myth of the pawned jewels obscures the true and more sinister story of how Columbus financed his trip.  The Spanish monarch invested in his excursion, but only on the condition that Columbus would repay this investment with profit by bringing back gold, spices, and other tribute from Asia.  This pressing need to repay his debt underlies the frantic tone of Columbus’ diaries as he raced from one Caribbean island to the next, stealing anything of value.

After he failed to contact the emperor of China, the traders of India, or the merchants of Japan, Columbus decided to pay for his voyage in the one important commodity he had found in ample supply — human lives.  He seized 1,200 Taino Indians from the island of Hispaniola, crammed as many onto his ships as would fit, and sent them to Spain, where they were paraded naked through the streets of Seville and sold as slaves in 1495.  Columbus tore children from their parents, husbands from wives.  On board Columbus’ slave ships, hundreds died; the sailors tossed the Indian bodies into the Atlantic.

Because Columbus captured more Indian slaves than he could transport to Spain in his small ships, he put them to work in mines and plantations which he, his family, and followers created throughout the Caribbean. His marauding band hunted Indians for sport and profit — beating, raping, torturing, killing, and then using the Indian bodies as food for their hunting dogs. Within four years of Columbus’ arrival on Hispaniola, his men had killed or exported one-third of the original Indian population of 300,000.

Continue reading