Liberty led early settlers to prosperity
By SETH GROSSMAN, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from the November 25, 2009 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/news.php?id=5918)
?I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house. We had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.??
— Jon Stewart, comedian host of ?The Daily Show? satire on Comedy Central.
Jon Stewart, of course, is a classic leftist. He spends most of his show bashing Republicans, conservatives, and anyone else who defends American traditions. But I never heard him apply that same biting humor to Barack Obama or any darlings of the left.
But most Americans, even my conservative friends, laugh at that joke. And that?s not funny. Any comedian will tell you that his or her best material is based on some uncomfortable true story. When we laugh at that joke, we are buying into the idea that it contains an uncomfortable truth about Thanksgiving ? and America.
In his movie ?Bowling for Columbine,? Michael Moore used the theme of that joke to cram dozens of vicious lies about Americans, our history, and our culture into a three-minute cartoon segment called ?A Brief History of the United States of America.? You can view it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2hbz…eature=related.
In that cartoon, American ?history? is 400 years of random murder and mayhem done by a bunch of insecure, irrational, and heavily armed white men. The trouble begins when Pilgrims arrive in America and promptly murder friendly Indians, burn women as witches, shoot up Englishmen, kidnap Africans as slaves, etc. (The cartoon ?forgets? the part where nearly 300,000 white Americans died to end slavery). Michael Moore?s hateful message is that ever since the Pilgrims, fearful, angry, gun-toting white Americans have been killing innocent people wherever they go and must be stopped. It is the familiar message of every terrorist and dictator from Bin Laden to Kim Jing-Il to Hugo Chavez.
But that message, like Jon Stewart?s joke about Thanksgiving, is a lie.
The truth is that in September of 1620, 102 men, women and children left England and crowded into a small ship called the Mayflower. About 35 of them were Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom. The rest were ordinary English men and women seeking a fresh start in a new land.
During their 66 days at sea, the Pilgrims and the rest of the passengers changed their plan. Before they left, the Pilgrims contracted to settle near the existing English colony of Virginia. But the Pilgrims wanted to settle in New England and get as far away as they could from English government officials. Most other passengers thought they would do better near the established settlements in Virginia.
After lots of discussion, the Pilgrims and the rest of the passengers reached a compromise that satisfied everyone. They would land in New England, not Virginia. But they agreed in a writing known as the Mayflower Compact on how to run the settlement. Each passenger agreed to obey ?such just and equal laws? as the majority would make ?from time to time.?
The Mayflower reached Massachusetts in November. For the next seven months, the settlers had nothing to eat but salt meat and soggy bread, grain, and beans from the ship. Everyone was sick, and 47 more passengers died. When the Mayflower left for England that spring, few thought they would survive another year.
The Pilgrim settlers soon found they were surrounded by large fields that had already been cleared and were ready for planting. But they had no idea when or what they should plant there, or what happened to the Indians who owned them.
One day, an Indian named Tisquantum (Squanto), walked out of the woods speaking perfect English and explained what happened. Squanto had lived with English sailors for 14 years. He said that three years before, almost all of the Indians in the area died from a mysterious disease ? probably smallpox caught from European fishermen who had been there.
Squanto gave expert advice on how and where to hunt, farm and fish. By the summer, the Pilgrims were better fed and healthier than ever.
That fall, when they gathered a bigger harvest than anything they had known in England, the Pilgrim settlers had plenty to be thankful for. They had liberty and prosperity. And what else but a miracle from God could explain such unbelievable luck?
The nearby Indians, weakened by the plague, were also thankful. The Pilgrims protected them from extermination by other Indian tribes. (Yes, there were many violent, aggressive, mass-murdering Indian tribes in America long before any Europeans arrived!)
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT 92.1 FM, heard throughout South Jersey 8 to 9 a.m. every Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussion groups are held 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.