Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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The Emperor's New Clothes

I think it might be time to talk about the Emperor's New Clothes. This is something we've been thinking about for a pretty long time now, but we never really had a good way to talk about it until today. See, it seems like there's kind of an Emperor's New Clothes effect that happens among groups of people. I was going to say certain groups of people, but it's not really specific. It happens in, like, every group, I think. But basically what it amounts to is that there's a "cool" way to look at things, and everyone in that group has to look at things the same way for fear of being mocked and ridiculed (the modern day equivalent to being executed for accusing the emperor of being naked).

Today we came across a good example. I want to start out by reminding everyone that we just celebrated Thanksgiving by (voluntarily) staying at home alone and eating a frozen pizza (which wasn't frozen anymore by the time we ate it, but you get the idea). So this rant doesn't come from any kind of adherence to tradition or anything like that.

Anyway, to some people, the "cool" way to look at Thanksgiving is that it's an evil commemoration of the white man's oppression of the Native Americans. You can look at it that way if you want, and we probably won't even try to stop you, because it's true that white people did do a lot of terrible things to the Native Americans and anyone can be upset about it if you want. But we came across an article where someone was like, "Here's the real history behind Thanksgiving! Don't you agree that it's a stupid holiday?"

Now, to be fair, there's nothing wrong with telling people the real story. In fact, it's a great thing to do. We like to know the real story of things.

The problem with it is that it seemed to want to agree with all the people saying Thanksgiving is a celebration of badness, but when it laid out all the facts, it seemed like the pilgrims were just a group of people who wanted to move somewhere else and miraculously survived a bunch of hardships to do it. They didn't even kill anybody when they got to America (though a subsequent Wikipedia check revealed that a scouting party did briefly exchange fire with a group of Native Americans who then disappeared for several weeks). The only thing that really seemed to agree with the "cool" opinion of Thanksgiving was the part where it called the Separatists (the pilgrims) a cult (a statement for which there were no supporting arguments) and the end where it said, "See? Don't you feel silly for celebrating Thanksgiving now?"

It was aggravating. I mean, if you want to talk about all the atrocities committed against the Native Americans, go ahead, but the people who started Thanksgiving weren't the people doing that stuff. It's not like Thanksgiving was created to say, "USA! USA! USA!" It was created to give thanks. In fact, they celebrated Thanksgiving in Japan this week, too. These days it's called "Labor Thanksgiving Day," but it comes from an ancient tradition of harvest festivals that predate the pilgrims' landing on Plymouth Rock by about a thousand years or so.

So our two main points are these: 1)Thanksgiving isn't "celebrate pilgrims day!", it's "be grateful for what you have" day. And 2)Don't force your historical essays (or anything else) into the mold of popular opinion just because the emperor says his clothes are awesome. Think for yourself.

Today I'm thankful for a day to remind us to be grateful for all our many blessings, the wonderful fact checking resource that is Wikipedia, having leftover chocolate silk pie, excuses to take time off from work (seriously, why do people keep bashing holidays?), and supporting arguments.
Tags: thanksgiving, thinking

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