American hedonism closes its eyes to death, and has been
incapable of exorcising the destructive power of the moment
with a wisdom like that of the Epicureans of antiquity.

- Octavio Paz
Death is un-American, and an affront to every citizen's inalienable
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

- Arnold Toynbee
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"As long as such self-serving hypocrisy
motivates America's response, Ukraine will
only sink further into needless bloodshed,
and that blood will be on America's head."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
the_band_huge
In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors,
since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors,
for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal
applies only upwards, not downwards.

― Bertrand Russell
Global Coke
Global Coke
"What those 'racists' are reflexively and rightly reacting
to is the soulless chill as the fire goes out beneath the
melting pot. Those who think America can thrive as a
'cultural mosaic' are worse than fools; they're Canadians."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Global Coke
Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe.
It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster,
in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe
have grown to appalling dimensions.

― Frantz Fanon
What the United States does best is understand itself.
What it does worst is understand others.

- Carlos Fuentes
Poor Mexico, so far from God
and so close to the United States.

- Porfirio Diaz
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"Indeed, everything about the American southland was magical
and exotic to the young Canadian musicians, from the sights
and smells to the drawling manner of speech to, especially, the
central role that music played in people’s everyday lives."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
the_band_huge
America is a mistake, a giant mistake.
- Sigmund Freud
America is an adorable woman chewing tobacco.
- Auguste Bartholdi
chimerica
chimerica
"This is the tone of the China Century, a subtle
mix of Nazi/Soviet bravado and 'oriental'
cunning -- easily misunderstood, and
never
heard before, in a real enemy, by the West."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
chimerica
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
"And for the others who argued for English-only
patriotism, I note that there are more than
57 million Americans (about 20% of the nation)
whose first-language is not English...."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
predator-firing-missile4
predator-firing-missile4
"This is the behavior, and the fate, of paranoid
old-world tyrants like Hitler or Saddam, not liberal new-world democracies like America pretends to be."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
predator-firing-missile4
America is the only nation in history which
miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to
degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.

- Georges Clemenceau
I found there a country with thirty-two religions and only one sauce.
- Charles–Maurice Talleyrand
A people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle,
and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood.

- Edmund Burke
America is the only country ever founded on the printed word.
- Marshall McLuhan
"The removal of racist sports nicknames (and mascots) seems outrageously belated
-- why, exactly, has this civil rights cause
taken so long to gain momentum?"

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the
United States reactionaries use to scare people.
It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't.

- Mao Tse-tung
They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but
they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.

- Red Cloud
In America sex is an obsession,
in other parts of the world it is a fact.

- Marlene Dietrich
I would rather have a nod from an American,
than a snuff-box from an emperor.

- Lord Byron
One day the United States discovered it was an empire.
But it didn’t know what an empire was.
It thought that an empire was merely the biggest of all corporations.

- Roberto Calasso
Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather
be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

- Alexis de Tocqueville
newtown
newtown
"No one, I thought, could watch those scenes, of young children slaughtered en masse, and so many parents grieving, without thinking that this, finally, would tip some kind of balance in the country."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
newtown
If you are prepared to accept the consequences of your dreams
then you must still regard America today with the same naive
enthusiasm as the generations that discovered the New World.

- Jean Baudrillard
I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.
- Samuel Johnson
America, thou half brother of the world;
With something good and bad of every land.

- Philip Bailey
"What can be more powerful than disinformation in the Information Age?"
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
England and America are two countries separated by the same language.
- Sir Walter Besant
Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by
posterity because he was the last to discover America.

- James Joyce
Now, from America, empty indifferent things
are pouring across, sham things, dummy life.

- Rainer Maria Rilke
If the United States is to recover fortitude and lucidity,
it must recover itself, and to recover itself it must
recover the "others"- the outcasts of the Western world.
- Octavio Paz
The youth of America is their oldest tradition.
It has been going on now for three hundred years.

- Oscar Wilde
"America really is, for most Americans, all things considered, a good place to be, and all they really want is for everyone to enjoy the same privilege and pleasure."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
When good Americans die they go to Paris;
when bad Americans die they go to America.

- Oscar Wilde
jobs drug dealer
jobs drug dealer
They're nothing more than traffickers; and as the smart traffickers'll tell you, you don't use the merchandise. They are just inoculating their kids with a tech-drug serum, to immunize them against the very merchandise that put the **** bowling alley in their basement.
jobs drug dealer
America is therefore the land of the future, where, in the ages that
lie before us, the burden of the World's History shall reveal itself.

- Georg Friedrich Hegel
America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room.
Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.

- Arnold Toynbee
Americans always try to do the right thing after they've tried everything else.
- Winston Churchill
The thing that impresses me most about Americans
is the way parents obey their children.

- Edward, Duke of Windsor
Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering
what average opinion believes average opinion to be.

- John Maynard Keynes
Europe was created by history.
America was created by philosophy.

- Margaret Thatcher
America is God's crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of
Europe are melting and reforming!... The real American has not yet arrived.
He is only in the crucible, I tell you - he will be the fusion of all races.

- Israel Zangwill
American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those
who have seen America only in their dreams.

- Pico Iyer
America: It's like Britain, only with buttons.
- Ringo Starr
The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.
It has never yet melted.

― D.H. Lawrence
I have two conflicting visions of America.
One is a kind of dream landscape and the other is a kind of black comedy.

― Bono
The American mirror, said the voice, the sad American mirror
of wealth and poverty and constant useless metamorphosis,
the mirror that sails and whose sails are pain.

― Roberto Bolaño

November 20, 2018

War and Thanks: A Troubled History of Thanksgivings, Randa Tawil

Posted on 

War and Thanks: A Troubled History of Thanksgivings

by Randa Tawil

Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday during the Civil War

Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday during the Civil War

 

I remember clearly on Thanksgiving Day, 2006, a New York Times article came out which concluded that more Iraqi civilians had been killed the previous month than in any other month since 2003 invasion. As Americans gobbled turkey and posted warm Thanksgiving wishes on facebook, Iraqi people were dying because of an unjust war started by Americans—and yet, this dissonance was left unheard and most Americans left unbothered.1 Yet, the pairing of violence and thanks seems to be the true story of Thanksgiving, because Thanksgiving has always been a strategy to bolster America’s true mission: colonialism and expansion through military force.

Much has been written about the settler colonial routes of Thanksgiving, and the fabrication of the normalizing effect of the pilgrim story. However, the first Thanksgivings were intermittent days for religious observation, usually celebrating a victory over particular Native American tribes and land expansion. In 1637, John Winthrop, head of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared a thanksgiving feast for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indians and acquisition of their lands. In 1676, a thanksgiving was declared for the End of King Phillip’s War, when more land was acquired for the colonies. George Washington declared a thanksgiving at the end of the War for Independence, to ask God

that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war… and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.2

After this proclamation, thanksgivings were still sequestered to New England without greater national significance. Throughout the early 19th century, different states had Thanksgivings at different times of year, and different church sects declared days of thanks at different times. It was not until the Civil War that Thanksgiving became nationalized.

Lincoln declared his first days of thanks after the union victories in Gettysburg and Vicksburg, however, by this time many in the North were urging Lincoln to nationalize the holiday as a form of national solidarity and bridging family values with those of the nation. As Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady Book wrote: “If every State should join in union thanksgiving,” she implored in one essay, “would it not be a renewed pledge of love and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees peace, prosperity, and perpetuity to our great Republic?”3

Lincoln did nationalize the holiday during the Civil War as a way to tie familial celebration with the nation-state, and reinforce the American national project. This only became more relevant to conservatives during the great waves of immigration at the end of the 19thcentury. By having immigrant families reenact the story of the first white settlers, immigrants could model themselves off the pilgrims and thus align themselves with the mission of the white settler society they entered.

While thanksgiving was not uniformly a sit-down celebration (“Thanksgiving Masking” was a common activity in New York in the early 20th century)4, it became a time to think of soldiers abroad, think of family, and implicitly the nation-state.

So I was wrong after all. There was no dissonance to the deaths of Iraqis and Americans’ enjoyment of Thanksgiving. Actually, it made perfect sense.

 

1 Sabrina Tavernese, Civilian Death Toll Reaches New High in Iraq” New York Times, November 23, 2006.

2 A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume 1. James D. Richardson, ed., New York, Bureau of National Literature, Inc., p. 56.

3 http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2012/11/21/happy-thanksgiving-yankee-supremacists/ideas/nexus/

4 http://theboweryboys.blogspot.com/2011/11/happy-thanksgiving-masking-pleasures-of.html