For those not in the acronymic know, DCCC stands for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the aggressive fund-raising, email-bombing arm of the party. Like Nixon's Committee To Re-Elect the President (CREEP), if the acronym fits, then one should absolutely wear it with unquestioning pride. Even though lacking the necessary vowel, DCCC can easily be pronounced as "Dick" which is certainly more muscular-sounding than "Duck," especially on Thanksgiving. So as you serve the turkey on Thursday, please be aware of any DCCC-heads lurking too close to the carving knife.
But let us be thankful. Because with impeachment sucking up all the oxygen, at least the Internet scolds have largely abandoned lecturing us about the true meaning of Thanksgiving getting subsumed by the annual Black Friday Greed Stampede, which now officially begins on the sacred holiday itself. For one thing, most people now do their holiday shopping online, on Cyber Monday. So gorge till you purge, shop till you drop, and click like a DCCC-head.
The "true meaning" of Thanksgiving was never the true meaning of Thanksgiving in the first place. As David J. Silverman recounts in his new book "This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving," traditional puritan thanksgivings were marked by fasts, not feasts. It's a sham of a holiday whose original purpose was to put a feel-good gloss on imperialism and racism. The English passengers of the Mayflower were members of a severe religious cult whose 1620 voyage was financed by a proto-capitalist group aptly called The Adventurers. These financial backers expected a big return on their investment. And the Pilgrims got the message. Before even reaching their ultimate destination at the future Plymouth colony, the storm-tossed refugees landed at Cape Cod, where they proceeded to desecrate and rob graves, steal buried stores of corn, and burglarize the homes of the Wampanoag tribe, who had already left their shoreline abodes for their winter sojourn in the inland forest.
The pilgrims did not consider these crimes to be crimes, but rather opportunities granted to them by Divine Providence. They were the chosen ones, The Elect. They were the true ancestors of our own modern criminal capitalist class and its Republican branch-centered unholy collaboration with religious fundamentalists, or what Chris Hedges so aptly calls the Christian fascist movement.
The original Pilgrims pretty much got everything they wanted for the first 50 years or so of their invasion. For starters, the Wampanoags had already been traumatized by a series of Euro-epidemics which had reduced their numbers by at least two-thirds by the time the pilgrims arrived in 1620 and which had left them vulnerable to assaults by the enemy Naragansetts. They were among the hundreds of millions of human victims throughout history of what is now known as The Shock Doctrine, which as Naomi Klein explains, is how the wealthy and powerful create crises, exploit them for their own benefit, and then portray themselves as heroes for "saving" the system they helped to destroy in the first place.
Myth-making with the aim of enforcing public compliance with wars for profit, various forms of mass imprisonment and forced labor and exploitation of the poor by the rich is an integral part of any capitalist success story. We're seeing it right now as various war-mongering neoconservatives and regime-toppling spy-thugs are being lauded by the "liberal" media as patriotic knights in shining armor and anti-Trump resistance fighters. Myths don't have to be old to be effective. But it helps, especially when the white Christian supremacist myth of Thanksgiving, with the Indians portrayed as perpetually prehistoric cardboard cutouts, is rammed down the throats and implanted in the brains of whole generations of school-children, regardless of their own races, colors and creeds.
As Silverman writes,
"Subtly, the Thanksgiving myth buttresses this fallacy by making the Mayflower passengers the dynamic initiators of contact with a Wampanoag population that seems to have been waiting passively to be discovered. In turn the portrayal of Indians as static contributes to a sinister racist double bind of long standing in American culture. It posits that the Native way of life at the time of European contact was and is the only authentic Indian culture. Nobody expects the Pilgrims' modern descendants to look and act like their seventeenth century ancestors, yet the public commonly judges that indigenous people who have changed since 1492 or 1620 have somehow relinquished their claims to be Indian."The reality of the first Thanksgiving is that the Wampanoags viewed the English not as friends, but as potential necromancers,swindlers and slave traders, just as their previous encounters with Europeans had taught them to believe. The feast they shared one year after the landing of the Mayflower was conducted in an atmosphere of fear, mourning, desperation and suspicion. "This is the most basic element missing from the Thanksgiving myth," writes Silverman.
That the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians co-existed more or less in peace for the next half-century is testament to both the relatively low, "pre-swarm" numbers of English settlers and the pragmatism and political savvy of the Wampanoag sachem Ousamequin, who is more commonly known in "mythistory" as Massasoit. That was his title and not his name. It's as if historians referred to Lincoln as "President" assuming that is all the identity he'll ever need.
Speaking of Honest Abe, it was he who proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the national holiday that we celebrate today, moving it beyond its regional New England roots. It was designed to promote unity after the Civil War and also as a propaganda tool to justify Western expansion and the extermination of more Indian populations. Just as they were at the original Thanksgiving, the propaganda went, the Indians were just waiting around ready to be colonized wherever in Exceptional America they lived. And if they balked, then it just went to prove to the colonizers that they were nothing but ungrateful savages.
It was only after Ousamequin's death that his son Pometcomet (anglicized as "King Philip") and the Wampanoags finally balked in the 1670s and joined forces with other tribes to fight the English, who were doing such un-Christian things as fining and imprisoning natives who killed the colonial pigs and other livestock encroaching on their own plots of land and eating up their crops. If the natives couldn't pay the fines they were levied for defending their own existences, they often were seized as slaves and transported either to Europe or Caribbean sugar plantations. The pilgrims were truly doubling down on the capitalistic greed, given that their domestic animals were already being imported to feed the enslaved Africans toiling away on the sugar plantations.
As Trumpian precursors, they even separated children from families, erected walls around their enclaves, and banished thousands of non-combative, Christianized Indians to an outdoor gulag on Deer Island, where most of them starved to death.
King Philip's War, as it was called in order to spread the desired narrative that it was the Indians assaulting the colonists rather than the Indians reacting to vicious English aggression, was short-lived but lethal, both in terms of casualties and in the lasting animus that it spawned.
"The war spread so quickly and unexpectedly that many English concluded that the Indians were an instrument of God's judgment. The question was for what. Staunch puritans in Massachusetts blamed lax morals and passed sumptuary laws banning men from wearing long hair, women from 'following strange fashions in their apparel,' and unmarried couples from riding from town to town unchaperoned.... Plymouth leaders wondered if God smote them because of their lax treatment of Quakers.... All the English could agree about was that the war had little to do with genuine Indian grievances."Fast forward almost 400 years, and abandoned CIA assets ("Infidels") bombed the World Trade Center and Pentagon because "they hate us for our freedoms." Hillary Clinton lost because as we all know, white women are misogynists and a Russian troll farm convinced millions of Black Americans to stay home from the polls on that fateful day.
The late Haitian historian and anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot said that it is the silences of history along with its mythical narratives that are at the root of power. We become "complaisant hostages of the pasts they create."
"The production of historical narratives involves the uneven contribution of competing groups and individuals who have unusual access to the means of such production."
All facts are not created equal. To paraphrase Orwell, some facts are more equal than others.
On that note, here once again is Sardonicky's longstanding Thanksgiving tradition. Happy Turkey Day to all!