Were Indians liberal or conservative, back when they welcomed lost, hungry foreigners, and helped them survive their first winter in a “savage land”?
Most native Americans (–I mean people born in this country before 1960) know the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians. The first Thanksgiving story used to be one of the very staples of Americanism. Of course, liberals and academics have chopped that story to pieces like the old turkey itself, stuffed it with political correctness, and even conservatives have retold the story so as defend themselves against any accusation of racism. The story is a premiere example of all this if foolish about American politics and ideological jargon.
But let’s join the fun. Let’s use our imagination. What if the Indians were the protesting liberal hippies the Democrat dreamers want them to be (and pay them to be)?
At the first site of a different race, the Indians would have immediately taken the matter to the government, and to the attorneys, to determine the rights of the illegal immigrants. Financial allotments would have to have been dispersed to cover housing, food, health care, and education. After all, it was indeed a “savage” environment, and these new white people were utterly dependent. This was an exceedingly complex problem, and would need the efforts of many councils, and take many months, even years, to decide. Now, the chief could come and visit, and promise to look after things, or promise that things would be looked after, but the actual provisions would have to be approved of inter-tribal councils. You can’t just jump out there and personally help someone.
Yet, that is exactly what the Indians did. Apparently, it was a spontaneous charity fest. Why, the Indians out-numbered the hand full of white Pilgrims by ‘500,000’ to one, demographically speaking. Though the Wampanoag Indians took matters into their own hands, without consulting 500 other Indian nations in the land, they did what apparently most other tribes would have done at the first, innocent encounter with an unknown human species: they were charitable, magnanimous, and willing to share. They had not thought of material equality, in the calculated Communist Democrat sense. Nor did some giant international Indian government order the Wampanoag to. Sharing their substance wasn’t about law, statistics, or political manoeuveres. It was just personal, human care. The local Indians were being good neighbors to strangers. It appears to have been instinctive.
“The First Thanksgiving” (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris. By 1915, the Americans had touched up the image to make the whites look like the generous entertainers of savage guests. The truth is, the Indians brought all the food. Like, who’s serving whom? But the white had by 1915 earned the right to think well of themselves. What’s a little distortion of the Indian image? Why, the Indian image was already all over American money.
And it appears to have been conservative, in principle. It was not an Indian governmental action which saved the Pilgrims. It was just natural human compassion of local families. It wasn’t ordered, mandated, calculated, or measured. The Indians weren’t looking for votes. There was in fact no benefit expected or desired. Indians just recognized human need. Without prejudice, families helped out other families. The homeland owners helped out the homeless.
(This is the kind of thing going on in the aftermath of Storm Sandy. The only real help is coming from neighbors. The government programs have failed dramatically. Some now greatly fear government programs, as they should.)
The Indians did not know the white man, his ways, or his motives. The white man appeared to be human. That was enough. There were no power grabbers among the Indians who tried to take advantage of the immigrants, or to use them to destroy Indian life and identity. It was an amazingly simple, human encounter. Indians represent humanity at its best, then. “Naked” compassion.
It must have been a glorious moment. Angels must have rejoiced. It was a phenomenon rarely seen in human history.
Today, our American government is so complex and corrupt that the only hope of recovering basic human concepts is through a story like the First Thanksgiving. Humanity shines brightest without government. Yet, when numbers increase, government, or at least serious organization, seems necessary if not inevitable.
The white race could not resist the impetus to prosper. There was absolutely endless land. The Indians, in the beginning, didn’t seem to mind making room for the poor lost strangers. Of course, the Indians had no idea that the few Pilgrims would eventually become 350 million. There was no contemplation of the future.
But this is precisely where conservatism shines today–perceiving the future. Perhaps we can say that Indians were uneducated or incomplete conservatives. They knew how to take care of themselves, and how to be generous to strangers. They simply had no thought that power-mongers would evolve and try to control everyone and everything. That kind of “organization” was unknown to Indians. Though Indian tribes had their disputes, even wars, over this, that, and the other, no tribe ever attempted to lord over another tribe. There were no “imperial” Indians. There was cooperation, such as in the Iroquois Federation; but, those tribes were of a similar “ethnicity.” They never tried to expand and control all the Anishinabe, or the Muskogee, or the plains Indians. There was definitely a profoundly different socio-psychology in the mind of the Indian people. The white man instinctively, if not inevitably, took advantage of that.
And so we have America today. A proud, giant government–which has completely forgotten the human encounter on which is it based, and through deceptive fantasies of philanthropy has become a teetering mass of non-human, inhuman conglomerates, about to crush the spirit of the populace. It’s deepest error is the thought that government can imitate humanity, that bureaucracy can assimilate the heart, that the letter (the law) can express the spirit.
So, what are we thankful for this Thanksgiving, 2012? I’m thankful for American Indians, myself. I can only hope that the American government personnel can remember the First Thanksgiving. (Obviously, my dreams far exceed those of the Democrats.)