Monday, December 1, 2014 - Volume 5, Number 14

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

The Moral Cause of Thanksgiving Lost-Redux

In the Rear View Mirror: This American Day Fades Away Fast


·         Cartoon: Thanksgiving Today by Nate Beeler





The Fall of Thanksgiving

Left & Right Join in Bringing its Eventual Demise


By Marco Antonio Roberts


Thanksgiving Day 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.”


Continued column 2 >



Ultrapolis World Forecast & Review

Ultrapolis Project – ultrapolisproject.com



Editor: Marco Antonio Roberts

Copy Editor: Michael Alberts

Contributing Editors:

Mark Eastman

Mark Steele






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.


Happy Workers,

Happy Comrades


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 Greed


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 of wealth.


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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Thanksgiving Today



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