Thanksgiving or Mourning in Seattle?

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Maybe you
have heard about the psychologist employed by the Seattle public
school system who sent out a memo to all teachers, warning them
of the negative effects of teaching students about Thanksgiving.
This had nothing to do with the issue of offering public thanks
to the Non-Pluralistic Sovereign Previously Known as God. That memo
was sent out several decades ago. This one had to do with American
Natives — oops, sorry — Native Americans. The memo announced:

so many holidays approaching we want to again remind you that Thanksgiving
can be a particularly difficult time for many of our Native students.

The memo directed
teachers to an independent website that promotes Native American
culture. It offers a section on the 11 myths of Thanksgiving. Here
is myth #11.

For many Indian people, ‘Thanksgiving’ is a time of mourning, of
remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land
and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near
total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently
celebrated in this country, ‘Thanksgiving’ is a bitter reminder
of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.

Already I
am confused. First, we are told here about Indian people. Is it
Native Americans or Indians? I get confused whenever I try to keep
up with labels. No sooner had I moved from “colored” to “Negro”
than “Negro” went out of favor. The National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People long ago dealt with this problem by
adopting the tactic of substituting letters for words — NAACP
— a highly successful tactic that was imitated by Kentucky
Fried Chicken when “fried” went out of favor. Why don’t the trend-setters
just go to NAP for Native American Peoples, and then let it alone?
Think of the possibilities. “NAP time.” “NAPsters.” (But stay away
from "NAPpy-headed.”)

Second, Thanksgiving
began, according to the popular account, in tiny Plymouth colony
in 1621. That was less than 400 years ago. I don’t recall 500 years
of betrayal. If this time period refers to Spain in Latin America,
beginning in 1492, then the authors are confused. That was not betrayal;
that was conquest by the Spanish Empire of the century-old Aztec
empire, which was based on the ritual blood sacrifice of rival tribes’
members, and also the conquest of the less-than-a-century-old Inca
empire, which was based on a fragile combination of theocracy (a
divine monarch), animism, and authoritarianism. (See Louis Baudin’s
1928 book, The
Socialist Empire of the Incas
.) The Inca Empire was so top-heavy
and incapable of responding to the threat that its army of tens
of thousands of assembled warriors was defeated by fewer than 300
soldiers — the most astoundingly lopsided military victory
in Western history, given the absence of machine guns.

The betrayal
came early: when Cortez promised the Aztec emperor safety and then
killed him, and then Pizarro did the same with the Inca emperor.
This is what military representatives of empires often do to senior
political representatives of rival empires. It was exactly what
both Indian emperors had done with their regional enemies. Any head
of state who falls for the old guaranteed immunity ploy is lacking
in historical sense.

Back to the
website on Indians/Native Americans. World
Net Daily summarizes
website posting called “Deconstructing the Myths of The First Thanksgiving,”
goes further. The writing by Judy Dow and Beverly Slapin also speculates
on the psychology of Thanksgiving.

What is it
about the story of "The First Thanksgiving" that makes
it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool
through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive?
Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold
Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag
costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the
schoolyard? Why is it seen as necessary for fake "pilgrims"
and fake "Indians" (portrayed by real children, many
of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting
out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship?
And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most
part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after

Why? I suggest
this answer: for the same reason that Christmas in public festivities
is all about Santa, and Easter in public festivities is all about
a rabbit who hides eggs. This has to do with a self-conscious avoidance
of any reference to the Non-Pluralistic Sovereign Previously Known
as God.


That some
psychologist in some tax-funded school district somewhere does something
as politically correct as this stunt should surprise no one. The
story immediately went down the mainstream media’s memory hole.
Had it not been for the Web, I would never have heard of it. I did
several Google searches, using different keywords. Not one hit came
from any mainline news media site. Every reference — and there
were hundreds — came from right-wing sites.

If this had
been a memo from some follower of Pat Robertson on (say) the need
to “get thanks to God back into Thanksgiving,” the bureaucrat would
be presently suspended from his/her job. The story would have been
featured by at least one of the network evening news broadcasts,
and probably all three.

This bureaucrat
got a free ride to match her tax-funded salary. Her name is Caprice
Hollins. I looked up “caprice” in several on-line dictionaries.
I got the following:

  1. a sudden,
    impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action; b: a sudden
    usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes
  2. a disposition
    to do things impulsively

Frankly, I
don’t think any of this applies to Dr. Hollins. I think she was
self-conscious, highly motivated, and thoroughly consistent with
what passes for education in America’s tax-funded schools today.

These people
have an agenda: to undermine respect for America’s past. This is
part of a decades-long program to remove American history from the
curriculum. The educators do their best to substitute social studies
for American history. The social studies curriculum has been transformed
into a constantly revised program to indoctrinate students in the
latest statist reform program recommended by whichever special-interest
group has the collective ear of the educational bureaucracy. The
fads come and go; the agenda remains: get away from teaching American
history, especially 1607—1776.

are expected to sit there and be quiet as the children receive this
indoctrination. When I think of American educators, I am reminded
of a great line in one of Ring Lardner’s novels: “‘Shut up,’ he
explained.” Think of this slogan: “Education is too important to
be left to parents.” It has been American educators’ central principle
ever since the 1830’s, when the Unitarian lawyer and politician
Horace Mann took over the newly created state board of education
of Massachusetts. Massachusetts was the last state to abolish tax
funding for a denomination, Congregationalism, in 1833. Before the
decade was over, Unitarians had decided to establish a new church:
the public school system. That idea spread like wildfire, with a
similar outcome. Caprice Hollins’ memo is just one more minor brushfire
in this continuing conflagration.


This question
lies at the heart of the culture wars. The culture wars in America
began 17 years after the Puritans got off the good ship Arbella
and waded ashore. In 1647, the state government of the Massachusetts
Bay Colony passed a law requiring that every town of 50 or more
families set up a school, with education free to poor parents. Towns
of 100 families had to hire a teacher to train students for entry
into Harvard College. This was called the Old Deluder Satan Act.

It was not
Satan who was deluded. It was the Puritans who were deluded when
they decided to use money confiscated from one family to train the
children of other families in a common school, which necessarily
always mandates a common curriculum and therefore a common confession
of faith: in God, man, law, causation, and time.

In 1987, my
publishing company published companion books, one by Robert Thoburn,
the founder of Fairfax Christian School, America’s most famous family-operated,
for-profit Christian school. Its title was The Children Trap.
It is
free here

The other was
Owns the Family
, by Rev. Ray Sutton.

Thoburn argued
that the children trap is tax-funded compulsory education. Sutton
argued that the war over rival claims of legal control, and therefore
ownership, of the family is the most divisive issue in contemporary
American life.

These issues
have not gone away. Dr. Hollins’ memo is evidence that both issues
are alive and well in American society.


I mean. Give it back to the Indians, the Mexican Americans, the
blacks, the WASPs, and even the Irish. Give it back to parents.
No more guns in the bellies of all these groups in the name of the
common confession school system, which is run for the benefit of
the educators, not the children, and surely not the parents.

Dr. Hollins
worries about the psychological effects of Thanksgiving skits on
the children of Native Americans. But neither she nor her peers
have ever worried about the effects on Native American families
of federally operated schools, with older children pulled off the
reservations and sent to distant common schools with mixed sexes
and mixed tribes. This educational experiment from the beginning
was by far the most self-conscious and systematic attempt by tax-funded
educators to undermine families of a rival culture. It took military
action for over a century to impose this system on the defeated.
When you think “public schools,” think “Indian schools.” Think about
Custer’s last stand and the educational program designed in Washington
to make sure something like that would never happen again. Think
“Bury My Heart at Custer High School.”

In the years
after World War II, my father-in-law was a Presbyterian missionary
to the Western Shoshone tribe in the Nevada-Utah region. He told
me of the accounts given to him by enthusiastic young men who had
gone off to fight in the South Pacific against the Japanese. “It
was great,” one of them told him. “It was just like the stories
my grandfather told me about fighting the white man.” Old traditions
die hard. The reservation’s education system had not yet overcome
all of the old traditions.

The U.S. government’s
Indian reservation system was the first full-scale experiment in
tax-funded socialism in the West, meaning not just the Western United
States but Western civilization. It is, basically, the re-establishment
of Inca civilization over North American tribes. Its effects have
been universally disastrous. I believe there is no agency of the
Federal government that has been more universally acknowledged as
a failure — by voters, by its alleged beneficiaries, and by
politicians — for a longer period of time. Yet the Bureau of
Indian Affairs continues.

The reservation
system’s main benefit today is that tribes can set up gambling casinos
on Federal land, outside the jurisdiction of state and local governments.
This is the triumph of one of the least productive activities of
the free market, but free from states’ taxes and controls nonetheless.
“Free at last. Free at last. Seven come eleven, I’m free at last!”


The memo from
Dr. Hollins is not an aberration. It is consistent with the educational
bureaucracy since 1837. That agenda has been to substitute their
authority over education in place of parental authority. Most parents
so far have gone along with this, just as the voters in Massachusetts
went along with it, beginning in 1647.

Then what
about thanksgiving? I
have written about the economics of Thanksgiving.

We live as
the lawful heirs of 250 years of compound economic growth. This
process began in the late eighteenth century as the result of the
extension of the property rights system of free market capitalism.
Our prosperity is unprecedented. But its origins are not explained
in either the social studies courses or American history courses
in the American public schools. This has been true for well over
a century. The older textbooks blamed political reform for this
prosperity. So do the latest textbooks. The only debate is over
which political reforms were the wealth-producing ones. This reform
is not mentioned: the reform to shrink the power of civil government,
thereby extending property rights.

what does Thanksgiving mean to me? Rejoicing for our present inheritance
in the name of the future. And what is the future I dream about?
When the last public school psychologist is strangled in the red
tape of the last public school administrator.

Happy Thanksgiving!

21, 2007

North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money
. Visit
He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible

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