“A long time ago, refugees fleeing their home country’s hostile political environment headed west over the Atlantic ocean in search of a better life. They arrived on a rock, unprepared for the challenges that come with moving to a new land: a shortage of food and inadequate shelter. A group of Americans took pity on these refugees, sharing their soil and helping them gain a foothold on it. In an act of goodwill and diplomacy the immigrants hosted the Americans for a large shared feast. The Americans were called the Wampanoag; the immigrants the Pilgrims. Their meal has since become celebrated in the most quintessential American tradition, Thanksgiving.”
It is a lovely Thanksgiving myth, and it is one of the nicer American traditions, but in fact we celebrate the occasion when the Native Americans saved a boat-load of religious fanatics known as Puritans from starving to death. They repaid this generosity by taking their land and driving the natives into near extinction. These same religious fanatics had earlier supported Cromwell’s revolution and gleefully executed King Charles the First. After the restoration of the Monarchy they weren’t particularly popular in Britain, but neither were they persecuted, more ridiculed by the general population. Calling them refugees is overstating it: they went to America to set up a Puritan Religious Colony where everyone would live like the Amish still do today, not because they were in fear of the British Government.
There again, sometimes the truth spoils a good story, and the myth of Thanksgiving is a far better story than the historical truth.
Happy Thanksgiving, my American Friends!