Finally, we are thankful for many blessings today (and everyday). But we weep for our homeland.
The cops are putting up watch-towers in Harlem. Surveillance cameras are everywhere in Chicago. Congress would like to build a wall along the border in the south west to keep Mexicans out. Police in Atlanta bust down the door of private home and shoot a 92-year old grandmother, who managed to shoot three of them (out of uniform) before they killed her (how would YOU react if armed men broke down your door in the middle of the night?) And now we hear that the Department of Homeland Corrections, presuming everyone a criminal, will soon require Americans to carry government-issued identification to come and go from the country.
We laugh while we feel like cyring. And we are slightly angry too and astonished at how easily and thoughtlessly people trade liberty for the appearance of security. “Yes, but we live in an age of terror,” are told. “For the terrorist,” the government tells us, “travel documents are just as important as weapons.” And so we enter a world in which our very movement is monitored and must be sanctioned by the government.
Here’s our solution… require everyone in the country to carry a loaded, concealed weapon. That’s it. Simple.
The law applies equally to everyone. We’re pretty sure you’d never see another armed hi-jacking. And though intemperate drivers might be tempted to reach into the glove box to punish the slow-coach in front, they’d find themselves staring into the barrel of civility. Armed societies are more polite societies, we say. And no, we are not thankful for Michael Moore. He’s a big, fat, idiot.
Here’s some reader mail.
“I can understand why Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA but not why the Pilgrim Fathers grab all the attention for being the second group of settlers in North America. Surely the group that struggled and succumbed at Jamestown deserve some recognition.”
Good question Keith. Our knowledge of the origins of Thanksgiving are superficial. But from what we can gather, the first Thanksgiving was actually celebrated in Jamestown in 1614 and was an amicable affair.
But it’s an interesting question, what are the differences between the settlers at Jamestown, in Virginia near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts? It’s the pilgrims you see in all Thanksgiving related images.
Well, the settlers at Jamestown were definitely first, arriving in 1607. The Pilgrims dawdled and didn’t show up until thirteen years later in 1620. Beyond that, what were the main differences and why do Americans remember the Pilgrims and not the Jamestown colony? Does it really come down to the shoes with big buckles?
We have a theory. The colony at Jamestown nearly starved in the first year. Only sixty of the original 214 settlers made it through the first winter. They were tormented by attacks from Algonquin Indians, but relieved by regular trade with the Powhatan Indians (hence the famous union between Pocahontas and Captain John Smith.
The pilgrims didn’t exactly flourish. But in rugged Massachusetts, they relied on cash crops like timber and fish to build wealth. The folks in Jamestown stuck with agriculture, which probably led, later in the century, to their decision to begin importing African slave labor to work the land. The folks in the North, sensing the opportunity, made a tidy profit transporting souls to the new world and shipping them down South.
So you could say that the seeds of the American Civil War were probably sewn in the different decisions about economic development in the North and the South. The South tied its wealth to the land, the North, to industry and trade.
Eventually, when the new nation developed a moral conscience, it was easier for the North to be moralistic about slavery because, for starters, slavery WAS immoral, and there was little economic fallout from emancipating the slaves. The entire Southern agrarian economy, on the other hand, depended on cheap labour to work the land. Without the labour the cotton, sugar, and tobacco of the South couldn’t be farmed and exported to Europe at a profit.
There may be one other reason Americans choose to remember the Pilgrims and not Jamestown. The settlers at Jamestown were Anglicans. The Pilgrims fled religious persecution in England. While both groups were industrious and probably believed that the way to heaven was through honest labor, the Pilgrims were religious rebels, the Anglicans were not.
For whatever reason, America has always styled itself as a nation of virtuous, industrious, individualistic rebels. The folks at Jamestown were not only losers economically, they were conformists. And in American mythology—the only thing worse than being loser is doing what you’re told.