Battlepanda: Thanksgiving Leftovers


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Leftovers

The day is no longer with us, but we still have most of the feast. I've alreay had two slices of pie for breakfast. And for lunch I think I'll just keep on pulling meat off the bird accompanied by stuffing as the fancy takes me and gorge on the little fancy rolls that took two and a half sticks of butter to make.

Leftover Thanksgiving blogging is almost as tasty:

-- Via Mark Thoma, we have a fascinating article about how the pilgrims on the edge of starvation were saved not by Indians who taught them how to farm, but by privatization! When families were given their own plots to farm and tend rather than having all work and harvest be in common, production leaped as people were given incentives to work harder in their fields.

-- Via Brad Delong, a terrific post by Autopope, giving thanks for being born when he was: "1. Born any time prior to 1942: I die before the age of 5. (I was peculiarly susceptible to bronchitis as an infant, and would have died around age 2-4 without the ready availability of antibiotics.)" I too, need to be thankful for being born in the present day -- I had a cyst that weighted almost two pounds that had to be removed when I was thirteen year old. I don't know for sure that it would have killed me if I lived in an age where surgical removal was not an option. But life would have certainly been grim.

-- The Republic of T has a post in which Terrance hand-wrings about the origin of Thanksgiving. Well, I have to say I never understood that point of view. It was indeed a terrible calamity for the Native Americans when the white man arrived, but back in those days conquests and even genocidal conduct were not seen as transgressions. OK, that last sentence sounds horrible and relativistic in the worst way. But let me explain myself: The warlike Maoris of New Zealand set sail for the Chatham Islands in 1835, where they slaughtered, enslaved or ate every member of the peaceful Moriori group. Not long after, the Maoris themselves were conquered by the superior firepower afforded by the standing army of the British Empire (Yes, I am lifting this example wholesale out of Gun, Germs and Steel). Are the Maoris victims or oppressors? The whole of human history is a litany of brutality. It's pointless to cast moral aspersions for one particular episode over another. If the circumstances were such that the American Indians had the superior technology and manpower, they would surely have set sail for Europe and taken it over in a similar fashion and we might be typing all this in their language.

So, T. I hope you enjoyed the turkey and skipped the guilt. I'm sure many of the human customs, feasts and traditions we cherish has its roots in something we find objectionable today. What Thanksgiving is about now is family, togetherness, a roasted bird, pies, crescent rolls, cranberry jelly, candied yams and good cheer. Long may it live.