Tag Archives: Ben Carson

Thanksgiving 2015: A Collective Amnesia

23 Nov

Turkey DayAs we swing into full gear around another Presidential election year, I have to say I have not only been sad but I have been mortified by the lies and ignorance being spewed forth by the right wing, who completely own the GOP. There is too much to unpack here to address all of the bigotry, racism, homophobia, and misogyny from ALL of the GOP candidates, but I do need to address their stand on immigration and how it pertains specifically to the Thanksgiving holiday. This past week has been particularly hard given the comments from presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who compared refugees from Syria to rabid dogs, and Donald Trump endorsing a national registry of all Muslims — Nazi much?

I often wonder, do we collectively, as Americans, conveniently choose to forget the genocide of the native peoples living in North America – the use of bio-warfare?  Yes, multi-generations of white folk have benefitted from the slaughtering of indigenous populations in North America and stealing land. It is ironic that the early survival of the Plymouth colony depended so heavily on the agricultural and fishing advice of the Wampanoag. To all the GOP governors who say “no” to Syrian refugees, I remind you that you wouldn’t have states to defend in bellicose, racist, and — yes — unconstitutional rants, if a certain set of religious refugees had been treated similarly 500 years ago.

The whole idea of a “first Thanksgiving” is historically murky at best, with both religious and civil harvest festivals easily traceable to the Spanish in St. Augustine and British colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth. The native populations also had histories of harvest festivals, thus rendering a colonizer’s claim of “first” another in a series of misappropriations. Regular Thanksgiving celebrations as fixed civil events became common much later, dating to the 1660s.

As with so much of early colonial American history, most of what we “remember” is filtered through centuries of creative reconstruction: bucolic paintings, myths of noble savages and honest oppressed British outcasts, grade school songs and pageants. It is understandable that we prefer not to dwell on our collective responsibility for the decimation of whole populations, but it is an important part of our nation’s history. The colonizers’ relationship with the native populations was complex (and occassionally grateful) but seldom benefitted the natives and almost certainly did not involve everybody sharing a lovely meal around a table in peace.

Let us not forget this was no mere land grab but a decimation of Holocaust proportions. Our mistreatment of the indigenous peoples in North America went on well into the 20th Century with the Termination Act, Allotment, and the creation of Boarding Schools where white people thought their job was to “kill the Indian to save the man.”

The root idea of Thanksgiving — shared by the Europeans and the indigenous peoples — as a celebration is a good one. Be thankful for what you have; celebrate the cherished loved ones in your life; take time to remember what is good and bountiful with no expectations of gain other than shared love and thanks. Let us move forward as a nation, correctly learning, remembering, and growing from our history. Let us work hard to return to this spirit of Thanksgiving. It need not be buried in any trivia: upcoming shopping orgies (conspicuous consumption), 437 sporting events, overindulgence for its own sake, or cute “historical” imagery that overlooks a complex history.

We all have people and events in our lives worthy of celebration; that is what we should use today to be truly thankful for. I hope everyone reading this blog will be able to spend time with cherished loved ones, be it families of origin or families and communities we create.  I leave you with Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Would You Harbor Me

So Many Questions: GOP Presidential Candidates

10 Aug

GOP VillansI am trying not to be outraged in the wake of the GOP debates, both the Kiddie Table debate featuring Carly Fiorina (Ann Coulter light) and the regular debate featuring a bunch of men who hate women, LGBT folk, poor people, teachers, all people of color (ironic and sad given two of the candidates are people of color), and basically anyone who is not white, male, heterosexual, and Christian. Rather than be outraged, I am trying desperately to understand what paved the way that allowed such utter absurdity that this is the best the GOP has to offer. What are the implications for the United States? What population is the current GOP trying to curry?

This current crop of GOP candidates make Joe McCarthy look almost reasonable. Is this a last cry/plea to protect a white heterosexual supremacist country, or are there even more nefarious forces at work?

Speaking of nefarious: Donal Trump certainly embodies all that is corrupt and soulless.  Hearing him speak reminds me of our Jane Austen’s Ms. Elizabeth Bennett: “The very rich can afford to give offense wherever they go.” Mr. Trump feels free to be a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot because his wealth insulates him. Speaking out against people of color, the LGBT community, and against women, is this who we want leading a nation? Sadly, ALL of the GOP candidates share the same views as Trump. I find it particularly worrisome that there was a stage of all men speaking out against women’s reproductive rights.

I also find it negligible and actually loathsome that not one candidate addressed the issue of race and racial inequities in the United States. Is this an example of a lack of courage, or a lack of leadership, or both? I think it is also worth noting there was no mention of climate change or voter’s rights. Sadly, there was mention of immigration, but the conversation felt quite racist.

While as one can see, I have many questions and concerns, I, do however, offer an authentic invitation. For those that see any viable candidate here, please help me see what you see. Would you want any of these people to be able to appoint a Supreme Court Justice? Help me understand why even one of these candidates should be taken seriously.

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