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November 22, 2007

“celebrating” is so last century

Not wanting to miss any opportunity to extract some small measure of misery out of a world overrun with joy and happiness, the Seattle School District this week cautioned its students to be wary of being too happy this Thanksgiving and provided them with a series of “myths and facts” including:

Myth #3: The colonists came seeking freedom of religion in a new land.

Fact: The colonists were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. By 1620, hundreds of Native people had already been to England and back, most as captives; so the Plimoth colonists knew full well that the land they were settling on was inhabited.


Myth #11: Thanksgiving is a happy time.

Fact: 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.

There is no reason why Seattle public school administrators shouldn’t use this same "myth-busting" technique as a template for other American “holidays,” most of which have for far too long been presented to an unwitting populace as unchallenged celebrations.

And we are only too happy to help get them started: 

Independence Day 

Myth #1: The Declaration of Independence received its final signatures and was ratified by colonial representatives on July 4th, 1776.

Fact: While we have traditionally celebrated Independence Day on the fourth of July, many students may be surprised to learn that America is actually a patriarchal society organized to serve the imperialist needs of its capitalist overlords.

Columbus Day

Myth #13: Remembering that “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” helps students remember when Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Fact: While a catchy rhyme, students should be reminded that America continues to lack comprehensive nationalized health care and is a major contributor to global warming.

New Years Day

Myth #8: January 1st marks the first day of each new year

Fact: Many parts of the world use a different calendar and so January 1st is merely another day of struggling under the oppression of western cultural hegemony.

Veterans Day

Myth #7: Veterans Day is meant to honor and celebrate those who have served their country, ensuring its safety so that we may all benefit from the fruits of liberty and freedom.

Fact: Bush lied, people died.


Myth #5: December 25th has long been celebrated by Christians and is intended to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

Oh my God, you just said “Jesus” in a public school! Oh my God, I just said “God” in a public school. Oh my God, I just did it again. And again! Oh my God…

Happy Day of Atonement everyone!


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November 22, 2007 at 07:58 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Posted by: kebko | Nov 27, 2007 11:36:25 AM

Funny you should mention that. Michael (who commented before you), has also recommended that book to me and it is on my list. And of course I'll never hear the end of it now, thanks. ;)

I was on an early American history kick for a while this year and read "The Island at the Center of the World," and "The French and Indian War" both of which also took a much more complex, nuanced look at those early relationships. I would recommend those as well.

Posted by: Planet Moron | Nov 23, 2007 4:47:11 PM

I highly recommend the book "1491" which is a great summation of recent archaeology about the early European interactions in the New World. By the time the Pilgrims arrived, the continent had been ravaged by disease, hence all the empty villages & rows of graves to rob. Apparently, millions of Native Americans died before they ever met a European. The book breaks through the "Europeans vs. Indians" generalizations, and gets into the more detailed conflicts inside tribes, between tribes, and how the Europeans fit into those social contexts.
Anyway, I thought it was a fascinating read & it changed the way I look at American history, and it manages to create a sense of awe & respect about pre-Columbian America without pandering with the noble savage image.

Posted by: kebko | Nov 23, 2007 1:24:23 PM

I'm thinking you made this stuff up because you're heavily invested in Sackcloth & Ashes, Inc., and you're trying to drive up demand.

I won't follow the links because I don't want to confront a world in which what you're saying is accurate.

Posted by: Michael | Nov 23, 2007 11:45:43 AM

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