Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. The story of Thanksgiving that we remember, with the turkey meal, etc is based on the Thanksgiving celebration held by the settlers of the Plymouth colony in 1621. They had a lot to be thankful for. These Pilgrims had decided to immigrate to the New World so that they could practice their religion freely. They had intended to settle at the mouth of the Hudson River but their departure from England on the Mayflower had been delayed and the trip across the Atlantic had been rough. They reached America farther north than they had intended, at Provincetown Harbor in November 1620. While they did not really have a legal right to create a colony in what is now Massachusetts, no one really wanted to spend the winter at sea so, on December 21, 1620, the Pilgrims began to build the settlement at Plymouth.

Model of a 17th century English merchantman sh...
Would you spend any more time in a leaky ship like this than you had to? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first winter at the new colony was very hard. About half of the colonists had died by spring. By what must have seemed incredible luck or divine providence, the colonists were able to make contact with two Natives who could speak English. One of these was named Samoset and he had learned some English from English trappers and fishermen. He introduced the Pilgrims to the other man, Squanto, who had a truly remarkable life. Captured by Englishmen, he was taken to England and instructed in the English language in the hope that he could serve as an interpreter. When he was brought back to New England, he was captured again, this time by members of John Smith’s expedition who planned to sell captured Indians as slaves in Spain. In Spain, some friars learned of this plan and had the Indians freed and instructed in the Catholic religion. Squanto was able to make his way back to England and then across the Atlantic. There, he discovered that his whole tribe had been destroyed by the diseases, probably smallpox, that the Europeans had brought to the New World.

Squanto was willing to help the Pilgrims and taught what they needed to know to survive in New England. The harvest in the summer of 1621 was good enough that the Pilgrims did not need to fear starvation that winter. They had a feast that Autumn to celebrate their good fortune and to give thanks to God. This celebration was not considered to be very remarkable. Thanksgiving celebrations were fairly common at the time, especially among people who had successfully made the difficult and dangerous voyage across the ocean. It was not really the first Thanksgiving.

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...
The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930).

There were proclamations of thanksgiving at various times in American history, especially during the Revolutionary War, but the holiday we know of as Thanksgiving really began in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that a national day of Thanksgiving was to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November. It might not seem that there was all that much to be thankful for in the middle of the Civil War but the tide was turning in the North’s favor after the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg that July and the country was continuing to grow in strength and prosperity despite the horrors of the war. Lincoln’s proclamation set the date for the national holiday that has been celebrated ever since. Franklin Roosevelt set the date a week earlier in 1939 in the hope that an earlier date would mean a longer shopping season for Christmas, thus helping the economy still mired in the Great Depression. This was not without controversy and in October 1941 Congress officially set the date of Thanksgiving on the fourth, and almost always the last, Thursday in November.

So, enjoy your turkey but remember to be thankful to God. If you happen to be an American you really are one of the luckiest people on Earth.

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Democracy Deniers

Everyone else is talking about the failed red wave in the last midterm elections, so I might as well put in my two cents worth. That is probably what my opinion is worth, but I might as well. It ought to have been a wave election. The alleged president Joe Biden is historically unpopular. The economy is doing poorly, with levels of inflation not seen since the Carter years. Biden is senile, and the United States has become a laughing stock under his administration. The Republicans should have won big. Why didn’t they?

There has been a lot of blame attached to President Trump, particularly from the establishment, Never Trump Republicans. It has to be admitted that thanks to the lying propaganda of the mainstream, Democratic (but I repeat myself) media, Trump has become toxic among large swaths of the public, particularly the low-information voters. Yet despite the narrative that Trump-backed candidates were losers, the vast majority of his candidates won the election. If there is anyone who deserves blame, it is more likely to be the Republican establishment, particularly Mitch McConnell. It seems obvious, to me that McConnell, along with most of the rest of the establishment Republicans, would prefer to be in the minority. This preference may be either because being in the minority absolves them from actually governing, or because they prefer to be in the junior wing of the elite uniparty rather than allow the people to have a say on governing the country.

But all this discussion of which Republican is at fault for the party’s disappointing showing in the last election is ignoring the elephant, or rather, the donkey in the room, the question of fraud. I do not know to what extent fraud determined the results of the elections of 2020 or 2022. I cannot prove that there was any fraud at all. The fact is, however, that it is all too easy, in many states, to commit election fraud. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that the Republicans did well in those states like Florida or my own state of Indiana, which have made some effort in securing our elections, while the Republicans did more poorly than expected in those states that did not. Call me cynical, but it seems to me to be obvious that where it is easy for people to cheat, many people will cheat. If you do not want people cheating, make it difficult to cheat. I do not believe that the Republicans are more honest or virtuous than the Democrats, yet it does seem that the Democrats are the main beneficiaries of electoral fraud in this country. The Democrats are certainly the ones who have opposed even the most elementary measures to secure our elections while sponsoring a ‘For the People‘ bill that would entrench fraud on a national scale while overturning what limited protections the Republicans have placed against electoral fraud.

The Republicans need to make election integrity an issue, perhaps the issue. Election integrity laws should be in place in all fifty states. This means everyone should be required to show proper identification at the polling place. Ballots should be paper, not electronic. Absentee voting should be limited to voters who legitimately cannot be physically present at the polling place; the physically disabled, soldiers deployed overseas, etc. There should be no same-day voter registration, no unsupervised ballot drop boxes, no ballot harvesting, no early voting, and no mail-in ballots that are not postmarked on or before election day. Ballots that lack a clear chain of custody should not be counted under any circumstances. Elections in states that fail to take these common-sense measures should be regarded as suspicious as best and assumed to be fraudulent.

The Democrats will, no doubt, call these measures acts of racist voter suppression. The fact is, however, that people of all races are more likely to vote when they see the process as honest. Why bother to vote when the outcome is already determined? Isn’t it racist to assume that Blacks or Hispanics are somehow incapable of acquiring documents that prove identity when it is all but impossible to get along in our society without some way of proving identity? The Democrats will continue to call those of us who are concerned with election integrity democracy deniers or election deniers. I would say that it is the Democrats, who stand in the way of election security who are the true democracy deniers. A government that is put into place through fraudulent, rigged elections can hardly be accurately described as democratic. People who are concerned about ‘our democracy’ can best show their concern by ensuring our elections are fair and honest.

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