By Stephen Lendman
On November 25, 2009, a New York Times editorial headlined, "A Thanksgiving Toast," saying:
"Sitting down with friends and family today, there will be thanks for the steady currents, flowing out of the past, that have brought us to this table....And there will be prayerful thanks for the future."
At a time when federal, state and local authorities increasingly turn a blind eye to growing poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger and despair, Times editors gave thanks for their blessings others lack.
They also ignored multiple imperial wars slaughtering millions, and draining trillions of dollars needed for vital homeland needs.
What else to expect from America's leading establishment broadsheet, serving wealth and power, not popular interests.
Its current Thanksgiving topics include:
- holiday football matchups;
- "Thanksgiving Thrift: The Holiday as a Model for Sustainable Cooking;"
- "Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Tipsy Vegan Recipes;"
- "A Radical Rethinking of Thanksgiving Leftovers;"
- "Thanksgiving and Wine in the Willamette Valley;" and
- other food and dining out topics.
Nothing substantive was discussed, including holiday myths, traditions, duress most people face, corporate crime, government culpability, and America's out-of-control militarism and imperial wars.
Last Thanksgiving, a Washington Post editorial also fell short headlined, "Thanksgiving's unchanging appeal," saying:
"In a rough and challenging time, inhabitants of this land - including different peoples not always trusting of one another - come together to give thanks and perhaps to replenish their hopes of better, safer times to come."
How can they when those in power and America's media don't care? A year later, things are worse, not better, and the worst is yet to come with planned austerity cuts hurting millions needing help.
Indifferent WP editors instead said we're "fortunate to be alive and fed and sheltered, and the proper response to our good fortune is not self-satisfaction but gratitude."
It's hard comprehending such dismissive thinking given deepening social distress. At the same time, last Thanksgiving, corporations reported record third quarter profits because payrolls were cut, part-time and temp jobs replaced higher paying/good benefit full-time ones, and current staff had to work harder for less. They still do.
Rich folks never had it better. Millions of poor ones are lucky to have a roof over their heads and enough food for family members. Many don't. Growing numbers are one paycheck from unemployment, impoverishment, and perhaps homelessness - without essential safety net protections unavailable to many across America in need.
Major media scoundrels don't notice or care. No wonder federal, state and local authorities get away with crimes against humanity.
In America, Thanksgiving is celebrated on November's fourth Thursday to give thanks for the year's blessings and bounty. At least that's how it began. It's not current practice.
Most people defile its spirit in how they spend it, including overindulgent eating, parades, "can't miss" football, and start of Christmas shopping.
It begins Thanksgiving Friday, reflecting an orgy of consumerism, continuing through Christmas eve, ebbing for a day, then building for a celebratory new year's welcome with more overindulgent eating, drinking, partying, and binge-shopping for nonessentials.
Thanksgiving, like other holidays, is replete with myths and misconceptions. Children are told Pilgrims invited Native Americans to share their bounty in brotherhood and friendship.
In fact, Pilgrims had nothing to do with traditional Thanksgiving. Native Indians originated it, observing fall harvest celebrations centuries before settlers arrived.
While George Washington had days for national thanksgiving, modern holiday celebrations date from 1863 when Abraham Lincoln tried boosting Union Army morale and patriotic fervor.
As a result, he proclaimed a national Thanksgiving holiday for the first time. Pilgrims had nothing to do with it. The term Pilgrim originated in the 1870s. So much for tradition that's pure myth.
Government officials also use Thanksgiving to promote the illusion of US exceptionalism, moral and cultural superiority, and belief that God made Americans special like Zionist ideologues calls Jews "the chosen people."
It's a short leap from these views to judging others inferior, especially those ranked low in the racial, religious, ethnic or cultural pecking order. Blacks and Latinos are always marginalized. Today, America uses fear to wage war on Islam as public enemy number one.
Thanksgiving also has religious significance when Judeo/Christian traditions are dominant at a time separating church and state is weak, and endangered if Christian fascists gain power.
America was founded as a secular state. The Constitution's First Amendment affirms religious freedom. In 1802, Jefferson called for a "wall of separation" between church and state. Earlier Supreme Courts agreed.
They ruled separation essential to prevent institutionalizing state religion and government embracing its trappings or expressions. That's threatened if right wing ideologues gain power.