Thanksgiving traditions


Thanksgiving is America’s oldest holiday. It encompasses all races, religions and cultures. Most families, including my own, have Thanksgiving traditions. 

The Wall Street Journal also has a tradition. Each Thanksgiving, they publish “The Desolate Wilderness,” a historical account of the Pilgrims in 1620, on their editorial page. 

Last year — a website that promotes progressive causes — collected more than 50,000 signatures on a petition demanding the Journal stop its tradition. They consider our national holiday as an “insult to Native Americans.”

The Wall Street Journal refused to give in.

On the political left, Woke culture wants to paint everything in America’s past as evil and racist. They judge historical figures by today’s standards to confirm their false conclusion.

One of the left’s most significant flaws in demonizing the Pilgrims was labeling European settlers as mass murderers for bringing diseases to North America.

It is true that upwards of 90 percent of Indigenous people who inhabited North America were killed from 1616 to 1619 by diseases — including smallpox, chickenpox, syphilis, malaria, influenza, measles, and the bubonic plague — that colonists brought with them to the New World. 

It is absurd to hold the settlers responsible for this. It took another 300 years — during the 19th century — before scientists like Lazzaro Spallanzani and Louis Pasteur discovered germ theory.

The Pilgrims and the settlers before them had no idea what germs were and that their presence would kill millions. But progressives still blame them.

Using that same logic, the first travelers from China in 2020 who brought COVID-19 to the United States should be tried and sentenced to death for killing more than 1 million.

I assume the progressive left believes everyone in Europe should have never explored the world, remaining in their countries until the invention of vaccines.

Thanksgiving promotes being grateful and humble. But, many on the left want to cancel this great American holiday. 

In 2019 MSNBC’s Joy Reid, with a column in The Philadelphia Tribune insisted, “Celebrating Thanksgiving is celebrating racist genocide.” 

Cher calls Thanksgiving the celebration “of a great crime.” Former Disney star Rowan Blanchard referred to this holiday as “this strange, state sanctioned annual celebration of colonial genocide.”

These interpretations by the left are wrong.

We could all learn a lot from the Thanksgiving story of how settlers from England and the Wampanoag tribe shared a meal. This was a perfect model for tolerance and cooperation.

We know about this celebration because Edward Winslow — one of the Pilgrims — wrote down their story and shared it with others. Called “Mourt’s Relation,” this is the only first-person account of the Pilgrim’s first year in Plymouth, Mass.

The Pilgrims settled in the Wampanoag village of Patuxet, which had been abandoned after the natives died from an epidemic.

After a harsh New England winter, where many of the Pilgrims died — only 52 of 102 people survived the first year — the settlers were introduced to Squanto, a native who spoke English. With his help the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims reached an agreement promising, among other things, not to harm one another and to support each other in the event of an outside attack.

The Wampanoag, decimated by disease, were vulnerable to attack from their enemies, the Narragansett. So it was in their best interests that the Pilgrims survived. This alliance lasted for 50 years.

Squanto stayed with the Pilgrims as their interpreter, teaching them how to fish and grow corn.

After the harvest in the autumn of 1621, Winslow describes how the English settlers and the much larger group of Wampanoag friends feasted on fowl and deer.

Of course this friendly relationship did not last but that does not mean we should ignore what they did and stop our tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving.


Our traditional Thanksgiving meal includes a wonderful Paul Prudhomme cornbread dressing recipe with black pepper, white pepper, red pepper and oysters — hey, you have your traditions, we have ours.