Return to Thanksgiving (essay)
I believe that celebrating the American version of Thanksgiving is akin to celebrating Kristallnacht, if not worse: it is a very racist holiday, a celebration of the systematic genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas by Europeans and their descendants. This is a genocide - yes, a genocide - which continues in some remote corners of the continent to this day (for example, the Brazilian rainforest) in a very literal sense and in almost every other corner of the hemisphere in a metaphorical one.
The fact that this holiday is still nearly universally celebrated in a nation where there are over 2 million Indians says a lot about how far race relations have come. While there is often talk about relations between whites and blacks, there is little recognition that the indigenous peoples of this country are not extinct and are unlikely to become extinct anytime soon.
I have occasionally encountered people who agree with my view of Thanksgiving, but celebrate it anyhow because it is a time for them to be with their families. Well, shame on them. They should be spending time with their families with our without the excuse of a racist holiday. Perhaps it is the only time of year your family gets together as a whole... well, for most of my peers, this part of our lives, moreso than any other part, is a time of transition.
Transition from our old families: our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins - to our new families: our siblings, our spouses, and potentially our children. It is time for us to begin forming our own traditions, and this is the perfect opportunity to stop celebrating something that is so unworthy of celebration.
I leave you with a quote. In a Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in 1623, Thomas Mather, an elder, gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague that wiped out most of the native Wampanoag. Mather added in his sermon that he praised God for destroying chiefly the young men and the children, whom he described as the "very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth."
I originally wrote this on Thanksgiving of 2007.