Considering that virtually none of the standard fare surrounding Thanksgiving contains an ounce of authenticity, historical accuracy, or cross-cultural perception, why is it so apparently ingrained? Is it necessary to the American psyche to perpetually exploit and debase its victims in order to justify its history?
European explorers and invaders discovered an inhabited land. Had it been pristine wilderness then, it would possibly be so still, for neither the technology nor the social organization of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries had the capacity to maintain, of its own resources, outpost colonies thousands of miles from home.
The Europeans were able to conquer America not because of their military genius, or their religious motivation, or their ambition, or their greed. They conquered it by waging unpremeditated biological warfare.
It is painful to advert to these things. But our forefathers, though wise, pious, and sincere, were nevertheless, in respect to Christian charity, under a cloud; and, in history, truth should be held sacred, at whatever cost... especially against the narrow and futile patriotism, which, instead of pressing forward in pursuit of truth, takes pride in walking backwards to cover the slightest nakedness of our forefathers.
—Col. Thomas Aspinwall
Over the last few years, I have asked hundreds of college students, „When was the country we now know as the United States first settled?“ This is a generous way of phrasing the question; surely „we now know as“ implies that the original settlement antedated the founding of the United States. I initially believed—certainly, I had hoped—that students would suggest 30,000 B.C. or some other pre-Columbian date.
They did not. Their consensus answer was „1620.“
Obviously, my students’ heads have been filled with America’s origin myth, the story of the first Thanksgiving. Textbooks are among the retailers of this primal legend.