Fall of Thanksgiving
Left & Right Join
in Bringing its Eventual Demise
Marco Antonio Roberts
fast recedes in the rear view mirror, with almost everyone else long past it
and highly focused on the now more appropriately called “Holiday Season” that
with each passing year bears ever less resemblance to what anyone would have
recognized as Christmas time just 70 years ago.
In truth, that
Christmas time of the mid-20th century was not all that much like
the one just fifty years before, and even less like the manifestations we
might have seen at different periods in history before that going back to
first Christian versions of the winter holiday season, even as elements of
each Christmas incarnation have made their way to decorative icons we now
replicate in seemingly infinite ways.
Yet, one thing did string all those past Christmas times together,
anchored as they were in a religious purpose and meaning – however
thinly. This time around, amidst
battles over church and state, the rise of the multicultural and libertine
ethos on the left, alongside the simultaneous ascendance of
profit-maximization as transcendent truth on the right, and a wide-spread
collapse of Christian confidence except in its worst forms, the quiet, amber
days of Thanksgiving have been in fast retreat. What is celebrated widely today in late
fall is now almost completely managed by indulgence and corporate profit
motives, with churches and families merely accommodating each surrender of
Thanksgiving hours. People don’t much
notice it yet, but we are all slowly going our separate ways.
The final fall of
Thanksgiving as a holiday that for years resisted the merchant push to
Christmas-shopping-size it, came in 2012 as merchants no longer feared moral
reprobation for making people work on a day that most of us over thirty
understood to be a day for the company of family and friends in reflection and
celebration. Like the walls of an
ancient city that for years held out against a relentless siege,
Thanksgiving's cultural walls came tumbling down in a breach, and the hordes
of shoppers (many recent immigrants with no cultural ties to the day) flooded
in, never to leave again. This year,
Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target, explained on the CBS Morning News, when asked about Target making employees work
on a holiday: “we wanted them to have an enjoyable day with their families,”
so they will come to work at 6:00 PM.
How considerate. In our own
home, family members had to leave by 4:30 PM so they could get ready and head
off to work.
The Profit Motive’s
Need and Defense
Many have come to
defend this new practice of treating Thanksgiving Day as just another
opportunity to make money. Some,
because they themselves don’t have anywhere to go that day, so they might as
well deny it to others. Others because
they themselves have to work it, so again, why should the rest of the country
have this one day of communion? Still
others because profit does justify everything. Mr. Donny Deutsch, an advertising executive
that also was a regular cultural pundit on NBC’s Today show opined back in the days leading up to Thanksgiving
2012 that the markets were simply serving a customer “need.” Like when Time-Warner sold vile music
glorifying raping women, bashing gays and killing police officers served a
customer “need.” Like offering sales specials only in the middle of the night
or on Thanksgiving Day, crucial to those of modest means, was a “need.” Like when GlaxoSmithKline knowingly sold
dangerous drugs that killed people was serving a customer “need.”
column 2 >
World Forecast &
Project – ultrapolisproject.com
Editor: Marco Antonio Roberts
Copy Editor: Michael Alberts
Thanksgiving in Yesteryear
From column 1
Strange, for an advertising executive to deny the
power of advertising to influence customer behavior. Maybe all those billions spent on his
trade are really wasted, and do not make a difference at all.
Following copious news coverage on protests against
this new development, Houston’s local public radio station KUHF ran a
defensive local story on Thanksgiving Friday of 2012. In it the only two guests were there to
defend the good that employers had done for their employees by letting them
to work on Thanksgiving Day (letting them, not making them work). Apparently, employers were helping out
their employees so they could “pay off” their credit cards so they could
buy lots of wonderful presents for their families for Christmas (should
they have said “the holidays?”), so said the guests. In their view, retail employees would be
“happy” to earn the extra $5-$40 in total premium pay and “pay off” their
debts (yes, they said “pay off their credit cards”), instead of actually
spending Thanksgiving Day with the people they love. It sounded like a story from a capitalist
version of the old Soviet Pravda. “The comrades will be happy to surrender
their lands to the collective...”
Some big donor must have made a phone call to KUHF,
after hearing KUHF news coverage of the protests over the new Thanksgiving
Day business hours. The story did
not feature interviews with any actually affected employees, nor did it
include a helpful scientific poll of these people.
One Man’s Self-Interest, Another’s
Guest host Mark Steyn on the Rush Limbaugh show
wailed the Monday following that Thanksgiving on the recent re-election of
President Obama, and the scandal of recipients of government largess simply
voting their “self-interest,” instead of the good of the country, when they
cast their votes for Mr. Obama.
This, from an ardent advocate of the conservative class that, like
Mr. Deutsch, never cease preaching unbridled self-interest when it comes to
making money. In an ironic
convergence of those on the far left who believe in nothing and anything
goes, that nothing is morally consequential (except carbon footprints),
with those on the far right that believe profit-making is the ultimate
good, the notion of moral underpinnings for how we do anything, let alone
observe any national holiday as a people, is fading.
Continued column 3 >
From column 2
The ManiKongo’s Material Plight
This corrosion of a national culture has
happened many times before, and will no doubt happen many times again.
In the early 16th century,
Europeans first arrived at the court of the ManiKongo,
the ruler of the Kingdom of the Kongo, he later known as Nzinga Mbemba Affonso I.
The African king was an unusually
insightfully prescient and intelligent man.
He fast became fluent in European languages and culture, and a
convert to Christianity. He
desperately tried to modernize his country, correctly foreseeing the mortal
danger the Kongo faced if it failed to adapt to the new reality of European
merchant powers at its doors.
Despite his efforts, soon the flood of European goods began to
threaten his African state. The
ManiKongo pleaded with his royal Portuguese counterparts to stop sending
traders and merchandise, and send teachers and priests instead.
These goods exert
such a great attraction over simple and ignorant people that they believe
in them and forget their belief in God.
But the Portuguese kings were themselves
not interested in God or human advancement, but instead were themselves
greedy for goods - in the form of slaves.
Ultimately, the allure of European wealth undermined the efforts of
the Kongo royal court to restrain the export of slaves (in a way, the Africans’
own milder slave trade paved the way for the more violent and voracious
European one), as well as its efforts to prevent prospecting for other
local resources that would bring even more European traders - and local
traditions, customs, and allegiances were abandoned. It became each Kongo
entrepreneur for himself. After the
death of Affonso I, the weakened Kongo state began to splinter, and
eventually was gradually totally consumed by the powers that had brought so
much material wealth. Whatever
freedom the people of central Africa had left was gone, and so was their
identity as a people.
Of course, we are now in a different age,
in a different place, under different circumstances, and we are a different
people. Still, it bears considering
what it is that holds a people together, and what makes for a good
life. It may pay to reflect on and
heed the counsel of the great religions and wise philosophers when they
warn of us of the dark power of money and the morally unrestrained pursuit
I look back in my mental rear view mirror,
and see receding fast not this last American communion in Thanksgiving –
but all of them, as we gradually abandon our traditions and all go
shopping, and working, our separate ways.
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