Happy Thanksgiving

O beautiful for glorious tale of liberating strife

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers, as well as everyone in Britain preparing for the Black Friday sales which we seem to have greedily imported without the heartwarming national holiday which precedes them.

Here is James Taylor, performing “America The Beautiful” at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 21, 2013.

And perhaps, at this rather fraught and contentious time, we might all do well to take particular inspiration from the oft-overlooked second verse, too:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

 

Thanksgiving Proclamation - Abraham Lincoln

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 47 – An ‘Everyday Feminism’ Thanksgiving

The Everyday Feminism “Post-Election Thanksgiving Fact Sheet to Help You Prove Oppression Exists” is so deliciously beyond parody that it almost defies analysis too.

Kim Tran, who is “finishing her Ph.D in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley” (naturally), writes:

“Thanksgiving” is a weird time when we get stuck with conservative family members who might trigger us so much that it feels almost impossible to formulate a sentence.

Especially this year – when the entire election cycle seemed dominated by not just sexism, but sexual assault and not just “colorblind” racism, but racial terror – we may find ourselves at a loss for how to make an appeal to our conservative uncles, cousins, and parents.

Trust me when I say I know how hard that can be.

Yes, there will be thousands of people twitching uncontrollably on the floor around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year, having been exposed to unwanted contradictory opinions and triggered beyond all endurance.

I’m not quite sure what Thanksgiving has done to deserve the special quotation marks in Tran’s introduction, though. Perhaps this is an allusion to the fact that the SJWs who read Everyday Feminism have little to give thanks for at the present time. And truly, one should feel sympathy for them. Previous generations of Americans who lived through the Civil War, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, two world wars and Jim Crow and still managed to celebrate Thanksgiving have no idea just how hard today’s pampered young millenials have it, or how very little they have to give thanks for now that Donald Trump is about to take possession of the White House.

Oh, and let’s note Tran’s acknowledgement of “conservative uncles”, but not of conservative aunts. What’s this? Erasing the identity and lived experience of conservative women? Tut tut, very oppressive.

I’m definitely not saying to cross boundaries of physical or emotional safety. I am, however, hoping white allies can show up really hard right now because, well, we need you. We need you to be uncomfortable so that queer folks, undocumented people, Muslims, survivors, and countless others can feel safe.

Lord, have mercy. If I was a white person in Kim Tran’s acquaintance I would sooner spend Thanksgiving shut away on my own with a cheerless $1 microwave meal for dinner than spend one of the most beautiful holidays in the American calendar being lectured by some screechy SJW about how I’m not doing enough to make people who broke federal immigration laws feel sufficiently warm, fuzzy and safe.

But it gets better:

So particularly, if you are one of the few of the cohort of white progressives/radicals/do gooders, we need you to go ahead and call-in Randy, Travis, and Becky. I’ll even give you the cold hard facts to help you feel more comfortable doing it.

Woah. So let me get this straight. Kim Tran lives and studies at the prestigious UC Berkeley in California, the golden state, finishing a PhD in “Ethnic Studies” which would be utterly useless in the real world, but will equip her perfectly for a lifetime of tenured service on a university faculty perpetrating the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics. Basically, she has it made. And from this lofty position she sees fit to mock people called Randy or Travis, all of whom must (to her mind) be backward, ill-educated, prejudiced, tobacco-chewing hillbillies whose presence has is graciously tolerated, once a year, by the socially and morally enlightened readers of Everyday Feminism.

In other words, Kim Tran is stuck so far up her own backside that she openly mocks and belittles other people with more Southern-sounding names and zip codes, yet still considers herself the oppressed minority in America. It doesn’t occur to her that living in the Golden State and embarking on a career where she will be paid – paid! – to churn out meaningless identity politics drivel might, just might mean that she is more privileged than the stereotypical white male trailer park inhabitant in Appalachia whom she so evidently despises. Marvellous, absolutely marvellous.

The rest of the Thanksgiving Fact Sheet is the usual blend of lies and distorted propaganda pumped out by the SJW brigade – like the idea that one in five women will be raped in their lifetime, and one in four sexually assaulted at college, both of which statistics have been debunked more times than one can count.

Then we get airy assertions about illegal immigration, like:

Lots of immigrants do different jobs from natives because they have limited English language or technical skills, or because they have insufficient exposure to the US workplace. For instance the most popular occupation for undocumented workers is “maids and housekeepers,” while the most popular occupation for native workers is “cashier.”

My emphasis in bold.

Note the insidious switching between talking about “undocumented ” workers and immigrants in general, all part of the SJW masterplan to normalise illegal immigration.

Then we get damaging claims that oppression is somehow so endemic that “people of colour” (what a stupid term – and being one myself, I can say so) shouldn’t even bother trying to succeed on their own merits:

Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps Is Almost Impossible (If You’re A Person Of Color).

The idea behind the American Dream goes a little something like this: if you work hard, you can achieve economic success and comfort. Unfortunately, that’s not true for the vast majority of people of color.

One of the first steps to this kind of “success” is school and the school to prison pipeline predetermines students of color “as violent and in need of reform.”

Note how Kim Tran strips “people of colour” (ugh) of any agency or responsibility for their own lives, decisions and circumstances. This is the true tyranny of low expectations, and will succeed only in bolstering some people’s sense that they belong to a permanent victim class, focused largely on historic injustice rather than present opportunity.

And then for dessert:

Climate Change Is Real And It Affects Communities Of Color The Most

It’s important to mention that communities of color are most impacted by climate change and human-created environmental racism.

Three quarters of hazardous waste landfill sites are in Black and Latinx neighborhoods.  Moreover, during natural disasters like the recent hurricane in Haiti, women are often the last to escape, because they tend to prioritize the safety of their family and children.

Well, Black Lives Matter UK would agree strongly, at least.

I hope you are in a good mood to celebrate Thanksgiving now, having been lectured by Kim Tran and Everyday Feminism about how everything you are, everything you do and everything you love is basically evil and oppressive. And I know that “factsheets” like this one will make you really want to reexamine your own beliefs and reach out to the other side in a spirit of mutual trust and understanding. I know I sure do. Or maybe not.

This year, #JeSuisTravis.

 

Safe Space Notice - 2

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Don’t Let Politics Ruin Thanksgiving

family-argument-thanksgiving-election-donald-trump-politics

The holiday season approaches, and politically divided families gear up to fight the presidential election all over again

As Americans prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday come face-to-face with distant family members who committed the crime of voting for the wrong candidate on November 8, the National Review looks back to a more innocent age when cynical politicians did not attempt to divide families along partisan lines or turn every last social occasion into a teachable moment in favour of their own pet causes.

Jim Geraghty writes:

The idea that Thanksgiving is now a massive, stressful, unavoidable occasion to litigate our national debate about party and philosophy over family dinner represents the insufferable hyper-politicization of American life. Some of this may reflect growing cultural differences, partisanship, communities segregating themselves along ideological lines, and so on. But there’s an unavoidable fact that only recently have we been subjected to political leaders explicitly calling for these holiday arguments.

Back in 2013, Michelle Obama wrote on the site of the White House’s political arm, Organizing for Action, that, “as you spend time with loved ones this holiday season, be sure to talk with them about what health-care reform can mean to them.”

Then in 2014, Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, offered a placemat entitled “Talking Turkey About Guns.”

In 2015, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest concurred, suggesting that families should discuss why members of Congress are too afraid of the NRA to pass a gun-control bill: “As people are sitting around the Thanksgiving table talking about these issues – as they should and I’m sure they all will across the country – I hope that is a question that will be raised and asked by members around the table.”

This year we get “How to Talk to Your Family About Planned Parenthood This Thanksgiving.” Pass the gravy, and let me tell you more about the organization’s commitment to STD testing.

What is wrong with these people? Since when is it a national obligation to subject your relatives to the conversational equivalent of push-polling? Everybody’s gotten together to express thanks, say a little prayer, maybe drop off some canned goods at the soup kitchen, watch a parade and some football, eat way too much, and scoff at the lunatics camped out on shopping-center sidewalks in anticipation of Black Friday. If a family wants the main course to turn into The McLaughlin Group, it will happen naturally. We don’t need government officials and interest groups to coach us on our dinner conversations.

More importantly, there’s a lot more to our relatives than their voting histories and political perspectives.

Take a good look around the table this Thanksgiving. Even when your family members drive you crazy, you’re lucky to have them. You’ll miss them when they’re gone, and they’ll miss you when you’re gone. Do you really want to spend Thanksgiving arguing with them about their vote, or the fairness of the electoral college, or Trump’s latest Tweet, or what the cast of Hamilton did? Must we say every thought that pops into our heads? Is it really so impossibly hard to find things to admire in our relatives beyond their political beliefs?

My American family has not been immune to the online partisan warfare, with several colourful and highly passive-aggressive Facebook conversations unfolding in the days immediately before and after the US election and Donald Trump’s remarkable victory.

We are not all assembling together in Texas for Thanksgiving, but will be doing so at Christmas, when we will be confronted by the same problem. And while the New York Times would have us print out and follow a tedious 19-point checklist walking us through the process of talking to our relatives about contentious political issues while maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect, we know an unrealistic proposition when we see one.

Our current working solution: to hang a basket outside the house with a sign instructing people to “Please leave your political opinions inside this basket before you enter, and collect them when you leave”.

 

pop-art-donald-trump-2

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After Another Hard Year, We Need A British Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving soup kitchen SPS

The time has come to institute an annual British Thanksgiving holiday

Take a trip to your friendly local Asda superstore in the next day or so and you will be treated to back-to-back in-store announcements about their upcoming Black Friday sale. “Get ready for Black Friday!” chirps the voiceover, as a cheerful, disembodied man tempts you with sweet promises about this magical event of a retail experience. Yes, Black Friday is coming to Britain.

This is as strong a contender for Tasteless Corporate Act of the Year (Large Retailer category) as we are likely to witness this side of Christmas. Asda, owned by Wal-Mart, has successfully imported the grubby, commercially lucrative, post-coital rump of a cherished American national holiday – Thanksgiving – while neatly skipping over all the pesky fundamentals that give it meaning in the first place: you know, those interminably dull things such as love, family, gratitude and patriotism, tiresome distractions that will never generate a good Return On Investment.

Earlier this year, I took part in a TV debate on London Live, arguing that we should absolutely not make the festivals of Eid and Diwali UK public holidays, for fear of muddying the cloudy waters between religion and state yet further:

 

I was outnumbered, but I made the case as strongly as I could that what Britain desperately needs is a public holiday that can bring us all together as one people – not another cynical, politically correct nod to multiculturalism.

The possibilities for such a unifying British public holiday are endless – after all, what other country has as rich a history on which to draw when trying to choose a new national holiday? I suggested a few potential examples at the time of the debate, but my list is by no means exhaustive. Britain has achieved so many military, scientific, cultural and social victories that continue set us apart as a truly exceptional, indispensable nation, the only difficulty would be narrowing the crowded field to a single expression of who we are and what we have accomplished.

But this year, perhaps more than ever, we need a British Thanksgiving holiday. Despite Britain’s economic recovery, many of us continue to live in the long, cold shadow of the great recession, with squeezed, stagnant or non-existent wages spread too thinly to pay for the basics and comforts of life. As our mainstream political parties scrap over the elusive centre ground and ideologically merge with one another, the British people themselves are becoming increasingly polarised and less able to empathise with or respect those with differing political views. There is a steady trickle of young, disaffected British Muslims who feel so little allegiance to their mother country that they are stealing away to Syria to pose with guns, play soldier and fight for ISIS. And it was less than three months ago that our United Kingdom nearly tore itself apart for good, as Scotland came unnervingly close to voting to secede from the union.

Whatever the improving economic indicators say, all is not well in today’s Britain. Whether you are indignant about ongoing austerity or mad as hell about uncontrolled immigration and its effect on the labour market, chances are that you believe Britain is on the wrong path, and are probably also sceptical that things will significantly improve in the near future. Now, of course giving Britain’s hard workers another statutory day off every year won’t make all of these problems go away. But if we picked the right day, selected the right cause or event to commemorate our shared British civic heritage, it might just shore up the foundations a little bit and help us to ride out the storm together.

Americans continue to faithfully observe their national Thanksgiving holiday in good times and bad, showing the world that it doesn’t necessarily require a fat wallet to get together with loved ones and be grateful for what we have. But perhaps we British need an extra reminder of this fact – we tend to obsess a lot more than our American cousins about what we should be getting from the government, be it benefits or public services, and are consequently more likely to feel continually aggrieved and bitter at the inevitable shortfall. Maybe it would do us all good if we had imposed on us a day where we were strongly encouraged to think about our blessings, and the difference that we – not government – can make in the lives of our fellow citizens.

For the sceptics out there, there is ample precedent for starting a new holiday – Canada has also long observed a day of thanksgiving, though its present position in the calendar was not fixed until 1957. American expressions of thanksgiving were also sporadic and uncoordinated until President Abraham Lincoln fixed the date as the final Thursday in November, while the Civil War still raged. These timings proved wise – contemporary Thanksgiving in North America acts as a bulwark against the encroachment of Christmas, and stores only get into the swing of Christmas once the Black Friday sales are over, a state of affairs which would be very welcome here.

Wouldn’t a British Thanksgiving be the perfect antidote to the incessant commercialisation and forward creep of Christmas, the decorations raised in late September, supermarket mince pies that expire in November, discordant Christmas songs blasting out from every shopfront and the inevitable, vapid re-release of “Feed The World”?

After a long, hard recession, a bruising recovery and a year in which the idea of what it means to be British has become increasingly muddled and uncertain, let’s humble ourselves and dare to take a lesson from our former colony. Let us find inspiration in our storied history, our unsurpassably rich culture and also from within our own hearts. Let us find that elusive common thread of Britishness that should unite us all, transcending race and religion and politics, and cling to that thread in these difficult times.

And even though gratitude does not always come easily and the words may sometimes stick in our throats, let us remember to give thanks for one another, and for our United Kingdom, the guarantor and protector of all that we have.

 

Thanksgiving Proclamation - Abraham Lincoln

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