It’s Tradition, After All

Thanksgiving might be the quintessential American holiday. Christmas dates back to before the United States, or else the capitalist coup that takes a holiday supposedly about love and centers it around consumerism would take the cake.

But no, Thanksgiving has all of the makings for a perfect American holiday. Let’s take the obvious one: excess. There’s no shortage of, well, anything in the tradition of the holiday. More food than a person can eat, more football than they can watch, more stress than can be endured. And while leftovers tend to be a holiday staple—unlike the pound of waste every person in the country generates every day—they’re usually being eaten on Black Friday, which would be the absolute worst branding for a holiday if the country still didn’t celebrate Columbus Day.

Which brings us to the next American holiday trait: lying. The entire notion that the colonists and natives had some sort of gathering worthy of creating a national tradition of is horseshit.

There is a certain swath of people who would disregard the various atrocities from the first 200 years of this land (post-‘discovery’). They either never learned, or simply do not care, about the genocide that occurred here. I have an uncle like this. As far as I can tell, his general thesis is any violence that resulted in better business and a stronger United States is par for the course, and any critique of capitalism results in him saying, You don’t actually believe that, do you?

And that is, perhaps, the most American thing of all. It’s the bow that ties this all together. The underlying lies, the celebrated excesses, it’s all made possible with the buy-in. The social contract of predominantly white, center-to-far-right citizens to attach themselves to that one word as a grand institution and defend it against any criticism (and, in doing so, distance themselves from any construct of critical thought that would ever challenge such beliefs).

Society has created its own safety net of language in times like this. Most of the season, criticism can be dealt with by people dusting off their shoulder or saying Haters gonna hate; during the Holidays they can label others as a Grinch. It’s no wonder Americans have created an entire section of language that insulates them from having any social responsibility surrounding behavioral discourse.

So I’ll just stew and loathe all this, eavesdrop on the soft-spine debates defending Elizabeth Warren and wait for next Thanksgiving which will surely be far more interesting no matter what the election results are.

posted at 10:00 on 27 November 2019 to Commentary

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