Best wishes for Thanksgiving
Posted by Richard on November 25, 2010
My 2006 post, "The real Thanksgiving story," still gets a fair number of hits around this time of the year from people searching for exactly those words. My follow-ups from 2007, 2008, and 2009 also get a little bump. I thought about reprising the 2006 post this year, or offering yet another follow-up like last year's. But it's been a busy time for me, and as I write this, it's already late on Thanksgiving eve. So, dear reader, please visit (or revisit) those posts and think about their message this Thanksgiving:
For something new this Thanksgiving, I refer you to a couple of fine columns. First, John Stossel recounted the lesson of the first Thanksgiving and noted that our government still hasn't learned that lesson, and Indians today suffer because of that (emphasis added):
What private property does — as the Pilgrims discovered — is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.
Here's the biggest irony of all: The U.S. government has yet to apply the lesson to its first conquest, Native Americans. The U.S. government has held most Indian land in trust since the 19th century. This discourages initiative and risk-taking because, among other reasons, it can't be used as collateral for loans. On Indian reservations, "private land is 40 to 90 percent more productive than land owned through the Bureau of Indian Affairs," says economist Terry Anderson, executive director of PERC. "If you drive through western reservations, you will see on one side cultivated fields, irrigation, and on the other side, overgrazed pasture, run-down pastures and homes. One is a simple commons; the other side is private property. You have Indians on both sides. The important thing is someone owns one side."
Then, please read Fouad Ajami's column about how a Middle Eastern immigrant came to value Thanksgiving — but not the gravy (emphasis added):
The fondness of Thanksgiving, the meaning and the appreciation of the ritual, came slowly. It came with my assimilation into American life, with my marriage, and with the family I would come to acquire. I was not fond of turkey, though I made peace with the stuffing. The gravy, for a man of the Mediterranean, was irredeemable. Pumpkin pie and the cranberry sauce were more to my liking.
But the source of the holiday's appeal was that it made no religious demands, for I had been stripped of all religious devotion. I could not make any connection to Christmas—the commercialism, the music, the carols, were all alien to me. Nor could I partake of the passion for two big gateways into American life: football and baseball. I had grown up on soccer, and the frenzy for these two American attachments left me on the outside, bewildered. It was ultimately two celebrations of great simplicity that appealed to me: Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. They are both, to the core, celebrations of Americanism, great assimilative affirmations.
Professor Ajami, feel free to send your unwanted gravy my way — email me for the address. 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. With a fine giblet gravy!