The Real First Thanksgiving

The sagacious New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has quipped that conservatives should reject the Thanksgiving holiday as "un-American," since its mythical first occurrence involved Pilgrims and Indians generously sharing seasonal food and goods—or in other words, Socialism.

Here’s how it went down: a bunch of people got together, with each group bringing what it could — the Wampanoag brought deer, the Pilgrims apparently shot some birds, etc.. Then everyone shared equally in the feast — regardless of how much they brought to the table. Socialism!

Worse yet, many of the lucky duckies benefiting from the largesse of this 17th-century welfare state were illegal immigrants. (That would be the Pilgrims).

What Krugman truly reveals is that the founding myths modern Americans like to recount to themselves—and instill in students in public and private education—are, at their core, egalitarian. The genuinely heroic myth of close-nit communities' surviving in a rugged wilderness and reaping their first harvest is eclipsed by the vision of interracial harmony.

The good thing is that the reality of the First Thanksgiving barely resembles the contemporary myth. Indeed, the truth is something out of The Conquest of the Continent.