The real Thanksgiving story

(Note: see Joseph C.’s comment questioning whether Medved’s principle of independent communities applies only within any given society such as the U.S.or between different societies.)

Michael Medved (whom I do not generally like) has a good article on the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the founding of America. Showing the falsity of the usual liberal history, he gives the real history of the origin of America. The Pilgrims didn’t come here for some ideal of freedom, let alone for diversity; the Netherlands, where they had resided for years, was not too restrictive for them, but too diverse and heterogeneous. They came to the New World to build a religiously pure, theocratic community safely separated from outside influences which they considered corrupt. The same was true, to varying degrees, of the origin of the other colonial communities. Later, the necessity of fighting Indians, then the British, and then of forming a national confederation, necessitated that these religiously different colonies get along with each other, even as they maintained their own religious establishments in their own colonies/states.

Medved concludes:

Thanksgiving in that sense doesn’t celebrate religious freedom, but rather coexistence. We remain a nation of impassioned, fiercely committed, openly competing believers who have nonetheless established a long tradition of letting other faith communities go their own way. We can be pious and uncompromising at our own Thanksgiving tables, without menacing, or even questioning the very different proceedings in the home next door. The limitless boundaries and vast empty land of the fresh continent, plus the challenges of a long Revolutionary struggle, gave the faith-filled fanatics of the founding the chance for a freedom more profound than mere religious tolerance: the right, in their own communities, to be left alone.

- end of initial entry -

November 26

LA writes:

Correction: while the Pilgrims, who established the Plymouth Bay colony circa 1619, were not fleeing persecution, the same is not true of the Puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony ten years later. The Puritans left England during the period of Charles I’s and Archbishop Laud’s policy of “Thorough,” under which non-conforming members of the Church of England, mainly the Puritans, were being suppressed. Also, as Medved points out in his article, even after Puritans in England under Oliver Cromwell had overthrown monarchy and instituted a Puritan dictatorship, the Puritans of Massachusetts were not tempted to return to England, as they wanted to avoid the tremendous strife that was taking place there and they already had what they wanted: a community of saints founded on Calvinist Christianity.

Posted November 28

Joseph C. writes (Nov. 26):

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Regarding the Medved article on Thanksgiving, I was struck by this conclusion:

” … a chance for a freedom more profound than mere religious tolerance: the right, in their own communities, to be left alone.”

This is very important, but what exactly does Medved consider “their communities?” Would he acknowledge that countries are communities, and that they have rights to exist as ethnically or religiously pure entities? If so, should the United States be considered the “community” for white Europeans—either Christian or Jew—and do these people have the right to be “left alone” by the rest of the world—i.e., Third Worlders, Muslims, Mestizos? Or does he believe that every human on earth has a right to move into another’s “community” as long as he leaves the members of the community alone?

This is an important line to draw. If it is the former, then neither the U.S. nor any country on the planet has any obligation—legally or morally—to welcome foreigners of any kind or for any reason. If it is the latter, then Medved is ignorant; if people are allowed to emigrate freely—and to participate in their new countries’ democratic processes—then by definition they do not have to leave the rest of the populace alone because by their mere presence they will change the definition of what the “community” is.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 25, 2009 08:58 PM | Send

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