Indians, Pilgrims, protesters and police

Little kids dressed up as Indians and Pilgrims drew protesters and police in Claremont, California, reports the Los Angeles Times.

For four decades, children at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools have taken annual turns dressing up and visiting each other to share a Thanksgiving feast. Controversy erupted after district officials last week decided to eliminate the Native American and pilgrim costumes from this year’s event after some parents complained that they were demeaning and stereotypical.

On Tuesday, other parents defied the costume ban, sending their children to school in the traditional Indian and Pilgrim gear.

Nearly two dozen protesters stationed themselves in front of the school, evenly split between costume supporters and opponents. The supporters set up a table with refreshments in front of the school sign, and several wore construction-paper headdresses. Foes stood about 40 feet away, carrying signs that said, “Don’t Celebrate Genocide.”

Nervous school officials called the police, who separated the two groups.

The controversy started with a mother who’s also a professor of Native American Literature; she was backed by other professorial parents.

“It’s demeaning,” Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter’s teacher. “I’m sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation’s history.”
Raheja, who’s part Seneca, wanted the district to “hold a public forum to discuss alternatives that celebrate thankfulness without ‘dehumanizing’ her daughter’s ancestry,” she told the Times.
Thanksgiving doesn’t mark a day when powerful oppressors were nice to their victims. The Indians were the masters of survival; the Pilgrims were grateful for the farming tips that kept them from starvation.  (As I recall from the fourth-grade Thanksgiving play, fish make good fertilizer.) Massassoit and the Pilgrims kept the peace until the first generation of leaders died. Then things went bad. Can’t we celebrate the good parts of American history any more?
Update: A nine-year-old girl was asked to remove her Indian costume before visiting Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts, which includes a replica of a Native People’s village. Yes, “Native American” is now politically incorrect.
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Comments

  1. Joanne asks:
    Can’t we celebrate the good parts of American history any more?
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    No, obviously – that is the point of the PC/multiculti agenda – to incessantly hammer at how BAD Western society is.

    The story of the Pilgrims is, for these people, the story of America’s “original sin” of colonialism.

    From finding pilgrims-n-indians offensive, it’s a direct line to the “sensitivity” training/indoctrination on college campuses, which set out to induce collective guilt among “non-ethnic” students.

  2. How is it demeaning to dress up as a member of an oppressed racial minority group?

    I can see the argument that it is demeaning to be someone who oppresses members of other racial groups, or indeed to be someone who oppresses any other such innocent groups. But being oppressed is something that other people do to you, it’s not something any victim of oppression should be ashamed of. And if it’s not demeaning to be a member of an oppressed group, how can it be demeaning to dress up as one?

    Are the kids who dress up as Mary and Joseph for Christmas plays demeaning themselves because at that period in history Jews were being oppressed by the Romans?

  3. I think I side with Joanne on this one.

    Regardless, How did the parents decide dressing their kids up in protest and sending them off to school where they’ll be the center of a controversy and where relationships between the kids might be damaged was the rational, mature and intelligent thing to do?

  4. Regardless, How did the parents decide dressing their kids up in protest and sending them off to school where they’ll be the center of a controversy and where relationships between the kids might be damaged was the rational, mature and intelligent thing to do?

    I don’t think they were being fully rational, mature and intelligent, any more than the people who started this with the surprising argument that dressing up as an oppressed person is demeaning and dehumanising, despite hundreds of years of those oppressed Jews Mary and Jesus being painted, sculpted, acted, and admired in Western culture.

    Luckily everyone appears to have been at least rational, mature and intelligent enough to let the kids play at the side of the protest.

  5. It really is time for us to take back our traditions. Enough tyranny of the whackos. Hopefully, this will embolden others to stand up again. How did a vast majority ever learn to be so afraid? It’s time we stop running, turn around, realize that it’s a tiny mouse chasing us, and then chase the mouse.

  6. Mrs. Davis says:

    I side with the protesters on both sides. Anything that demonstrates the fundamentally political nature of the public schools is good. Eliminate public schools and this controversy disappears. The sooner the better.

  7. Downtowner says:

    The amount of negative and vindictive energy put into things like this always amazes me.

    If the professor wanted to make a difference, she could volunteer her time to come to the classrooms to share Native American culture instead of writing to her daughter’s teacher or calling for a huge public forum. Both of the latter are divisive acts. The former would be constructive.

    I know the fifth grade teachers at her school would surely appreciate being able to call on an expert resource to help them meet the fifth grade social studies standard:

    5.3 Students describe the cooperation and conflict that existed among the American Indians and between the Indian nations and the new settlers.

    Instead, it sounds like the professor is rather self-righteous. That is a shame. She could make a real contribution instead of causing disruption and conflict.

  8. Most people don’t celebrate their bitter divorces. And if one party feels betrayed, as the native americans did in the case of the plymouth settlers, I’d think this task would be especially difficult. For those people who identify with the native americans I think the call to “celebrate the good parts of American history” would have to translate into “love thine enemies” before they would want to take part. Which is getting a lot more serious than how most of us experience Thanksgiving.

  9. The key point is the attitude on the part of the ‘professors’ that because the custom offended their idea of proper behavior that ALL of the schools population had to adhere to their beliefs. Upthread there was some comment to the effect that the parents wanting to maintain the tradition should just ‘go along’ to maintain the peace. Wrong answer. What you are dealing with is intolerance, and the worst thing you can do is ‘go along’ with it. Based on the schools response, the next step should be a parental drive to fire the administrators that canceled the custom. Cowering to bullies didn’t work at age 7, nor does it work at age 37.

  10. Joanne, you’ve obviously never taken an Oppressed Studies course 🙂

  11. Downtowner, you’re right: that’s what a grownup would do.

  12. I’m of Irish heritage. My ancestors were oppressed by foreign conquerors and when they fled here to the U.S., they faced discrimination (help wanted ads used to routinely include the acronym NINA for “No Irish Need Apply”). But all that was a long time ago. I wouldn’t get my knickers in a twist if some kindergarten kids wanted to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by making leprechaun costumes out of construction paper. True, they may be a bit cartoonish, but certainly they’re not “racist”.

    Don’t these people have anything more important to worry about?

  13. Most people don’t celebrate their bitter divorces.

    Then object to Thanksgiving celebrations at all. Not merely to kids dressing up as Native Americans.

    And if one party feels betrayed, as the native americans did in the case of the plymouth settlers, I’d think this task would be especially difficult.

    But betrayal hardly explains believing that kids dressing up a bit like one of your ancestors means they are demeaning or dehumanising your people. That’s the really weird bit.

  14. Mrs. Davis said, “I side with the protesters on both sides. Anything that demonstrates the fundamentally political nature of the public schools is good. Eliminate public schools and this controversy disappears. The sooner the better.”

    To which I reply, Amen.

  15. Leftist anti-American ideologues love public forums. They can show off how righteously indignant they are and shout down their opponents at the same time. I love to go to one of her classes dressed as Tonto.

  16. Tracy W,

    Yes, advocating the termination of Thanksgiving altogether would probably be a more logical approach if justice was the professor’s only interest. Given that this approach was not followed I have the hope that the professor has interests that would lead to something more fulfilling. Downtowner has made some suggestions along these lines.

    Mike,

    You’re right, organization can be more effective politically than numbers. I wonder what will happen next year when both sides have a chance to get more organized.

    CW,

    Good for you. You’re a better person for not “getting your knickers in a twist”.

  17. Perhaps the professor of Native American Literature would like to celebrate how well the Native Peoples treated each other. Or not. Perhaps they can send these kids to the politically-correct Mashantucket Museum paid for by Foxwoods. Actually, my son (a Mayflower descendant on both sides) has been there on a school field trip. This is the same school that celebrates Thanksgiving, but at least they didn’t have to dress up. (Thank goodness. The art and diorama work at the school was bad enough.)

    My son is also 1/16 Native American, but apparently the Foxwoods Friends and Family Plan doesn’t apply to other tribes. Darn. Another tribe in our area is fighting all the way up to the Supreme Court to get the Native American right to open their own casino. The Chief Sachem looks sharp in his very expensive three-piece suit. In preparation for the casino go-ahead, they are cleansing their official tribal list to a minimum. So much for the concept of Native Peoples as a unified entity.

    History is always stranger than common perception. One of my ancestors fought in the battle of Lovewell’s Pond in 1725. It’s interesting to note that many young men volunteered to fight because of the 100 pound bounty (a huge amount of money) given for each scalp brought back. Many think that only Indians did the scalping out West. Then again, many of the Native Americans were willing agents of the French. Then again, (again) the French provided them with protection from other tribes.

    A sister of another one of my ancestors was taken prisoner during a raid because they liked her singing. The rest of the women and children were killed while the men were out in the fields. They took her back to Canada. When the governor of Massachusetts finally ransomed her back, she complained that it would have been much sooner if she were a beaver pelt.

    CW is right. The Irish were treated horribly. Few know how bad this was.

    I think most holidays would fail a modern, politically-correct litmus test.

  18. Robert Wright says:

    George Washington didn’t chop down a cherry tree.

    Does it do any harm to pass on this myth to school children?

    I don’t think so.

    But the myth of the first Thanksgiving might be different.

    The puritans lured the local Indians leaders to a meeting, offering them a meal. Then they stabbed them to death and put their heads on poles outside the fort in Plymouth.

  19. Robert Wright says:

    I think a major problem with the myth of the first Thanksgiving is that the truth behind the myth is complicated.

    It’s easy to read into it one’s one political slant.

    Were the Pilgrims for religious freedom? No.

    Is there evidence that Indians and the Pilgrims got along well during the time of that feast? Yes.

    Did that peace, love and understanding last very long? Not at all. It vanished soon afterward and the bloodshed became worse than that of the civil war.

  20. Dressing up as Pilgrims or Native Peoples is a pretty useless activity from an educational standpoint anyway. It’s Educational Clutter.

  21. “My son is also 1/16 Native American, but apparently the Foxwoods Friends and Family Plan doesn’t apply to other tribes.”

    Better hope your son never does anything even arguably illegal there. Almost no one realizes that one tribe’s exclusive jurisdiction extends to Indians of other tribes on their reservation–never realizes it until a tribal court imposes a sentence on them that the federal courts won’t review.

  22. I think I’m the only white person in the country that’s not 1/16 to 1/32 Native American. Sadly, in this era of elevating indigenous peoples to the level of martyred saints, it’s a coolness I can’t lay claim to.

  23. Robert Wright says:

    BadaBing, you’re still pretty cool. For a conservative.

  24. “Were the Pilgrims for religious freedom? No.”

    That’s a cartoonish statement, and a straw man. They came for their religious freedom, which is the point.

  25. Robert Wright says:

    Everybody wants their own religious freedom. Even bomb throwing radical muslims.

    The point is that The Pilgrims are often regarded as symbols of religious freedom when in fact that were an especially rigid, intolerant bunch.