Thanksgiving 2021 – We Celebrate Our 401st Annual Feast

Ken Zino of on Thanksgiving 2021 – We Celebrate Our 401st Annual Feast

There are 27 versions of the flag with stars added as states entered the Union.

General Washington in December of 1777 partied on a day of Thanksgiving after the British defeat at Saratoga during our War of Independence. This war was conducted when we were still a loose confederation of colonies who rebelled, in part, over resistance to taxation of poorer classes needed to pay for foreign wars or entanglements of our government run by a rich, privileged British Monarchy.

The war was won – against all odds by common militias and irregulars. They compelled a superpower British Army to surrender in the field for the first time since the tyrant Napoleon – because the Crown and its privileged generals were fighting an idea first put forth in our Declaration of Independence, then codified in our Constitution that “We the People” would govern ourselves. This WE idea was bigger than a richly privileged class who hired others to fight for them. Now, once again, the courtiers of privilege and wealth – if not the masters of mega-wealth itself – are presiding over our fate using hatred and drummed up grievances on un-social media that omit WE in favor of traitorous behavior aimed at burning Our Constitution via the proud boys of insurrection.

Washington, of course, was emulating another event in the fall of 1621, when the Pilgrims – early immigrant settlers of Plymouth Colony fleeing persecution, the dreamers of their time – held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Many regard this event as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag Indians in attendance – sharing a bountiful harvest with all, played a role. Historians have recorded harvest ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European immigrants in North America, including the British settlers in Virginia as early as 1619. The idea remains the same – Thanksgiving for all. WE. Unforgettably that We excluded native peoples.

Thanksgiving remains rooted in the traditions of early 17th century pilgrims, illegal immigrants or a sort of transplants, as celebrations of survival because of bountiful, and more importantly, We say again – shared harvests. This was our beginning of “We the People.” The need to be all inclusive as we continue to search for racial justice, including for native peoples among others, is ongoing.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863 during another bloody war, this one fought initially to keep our new nation united, but a war that evolved to end the dreadful practice of slavery – the ultimate exploitation by the rich of the poor. Unfortunately, it did not end white racism, as is all too evident in current headlines and the hateful words of the former treasonous president, chief enabler of the ultra-right white supremacists. Three white men were convicted of murder yesterday for what in effect was the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, a black  man who was peacefully jogging through a Georgia neighborhood when these white strangers chased and killed him.

Slavery also resulted in the deeply flawed Electoral College. It was a compromise to Southern interests, who counted property as population – three fifths of a head for each slave – to keep true proportional representation in Congress behind economic and political interests. Now we also have gerrymandering, and other egregious attempts to block some of the people of We from voting.

Back then, President Lincoln proclaimed that the last Thursday of November would be a National Day of Thanksgiving. Slavery – the issue that the writers of our Constitution – many of them slaveholders and wealthy – feared to address because of self-interest and politics, ignoring the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” These were beliefs they professed in their own Declaration of Independence – “created equal.” Sound familiar? It is depressing – given the tawdry cast of characters residing around the Potomac or in State governments living on Taxpayer Welfare, all the while refusing to protect and defend the Constitution and other laws that have clearly being violated even though they took an oath to defend the Constitution.

This founding fathers’ failure of foresight, failure of political courage, and failure of morals to address the ongoing ethical and legal problems that would ensue, as well as the fearsome bloodshed it would take to semi-resolve them, led to thanks. Thanks, that outright slavery would, be over, eventually, as the Civil War dragged on and the Constitution was amended. Then came government sanctioned lynching, vigilantes and voter suppression, as well as other bad behaviors that are still going on in public on the grounds of the Capital or school board meetings or on (un)social media.

Fighting still another war caused by the very rich, this one economic but just as devastating to overall American security and well-being, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to promote holiday shopping earlier to stimulate a stalled economy. Little did FDR know that Thanksgiving would become a new form of oppression for our economically underprivileged who are now forced to work on a holiday, many of them at starvation wages since living wages would – it’s falsely claimed – hurt the economy run and reaped by the rich.

On Thanksgiving 2021 we should reflect that some of us still are what we were: Haters of despots, dictators and kings who formed a Republic with a Constitution that separated power and used a system of checks and balances to prevent or impeach those who abuse it. This needs to be a WE understand of our history – both the good and the flawed and the bad aspects.

So we citizens or taxpayers need to attempt once again to make things right, but so far not enough of us, we say. Let us remember and respect the hard battles past and the citizen soldiers who fought them, while girding ourselves for the political, economic and ongoing military battles we now face. To establish justice and maintain our Constitution of WE, we are thankful for the reminder that for evil to triumph all that’s necessary is for good people – in or outside of government – to do nothing.

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1 Response to Thanksgiving 2021 – We Celebrate Our 401st Annual Feast

  1. The Future of Digital Spaces and Their Role in Democracy?

    Those who worry about the future of democracy focus a lot of their anxiety on the way that the things that happen in online public spaces are harming deliberation and the fabric of society. To be sure, billions of users appreciate what the internet does for them. But the climate in some segments of social media and other online spaces has been called a “dumpster fire” of venom, misinformation, conspiracy theories and goads to violence.

    Social media platforms are drawing fire for their role in all of this. After the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a congressional panel requested that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Parler, 4chan, Twitch and TikTok release all records related to misinformation around the 2020 election, including efforts to influence or overturn the presidential election results. In September 2021, a five-part series in The Wall Street Journal exposed details that seem to show that Facebook has allowed the diffusion of misinformation, disinformation and toxicity that has resulted in ethnic violence and harm to teenage girls and has undermined COVID-19 vaccination efforts. And The Journal’s source, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, followed up by telling the U.S. Senate that she had gone public with her explosive material “because I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.”

    Worries over the rise in the acrid tone and harmful and manipulative interactions in some online spaces, and concerns over the role of technology firms in all of this, have spawned efforts by tech activists to try to redesign online spaces in ways that facilitate debate, enhance civility and provide personal security. A selection of these initiatives were described in a spring 2021 article in The Atlantic Monthly by Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomerantsev.

    Among the suggested solutions documented in the piece:
    The creation of an internet version of public media along the lines of PBS and NPR;

    “Middleware” that could allow people to set an algorithm to give them the kind of internet experience they want, perhaps without the dystopian side effects;

    Online upvoting systems that favor content that could push partisans toward consensus, rather than polarizing them;

    An internet “bill of rights” allowing “self-sovereign identity” that lets people stay anonymous online, but weeds out bots; and

    “Constructive communication” systems set up to dial down anger and bridge divides.

    In light of the current conversations about the need to rethink and redesign online public spaces, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked experts how they expect the digital public sphere to evolve by 2035. Some 862 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded to this specific question:

    Looking ahead to 2035, will digital spaces and people’s use of them be changed in ways that significantly serve the public good?

    Some 61% chose the option declaring that, “yes,” by 2035, digital spaces and people’s uses of them will change in ways that significantly serve the public good; 39% chose the “no” option, positing that by 2035, digital spaces and people’s uses of them will not change in ways that significantly serve the public good.

    It is important to note that a large share of who chose “yes” – that online public spaces would improve by 2035 – also wrote in their answers that the changes between now and then could go either way. They often listed one or more difficult hurdles to overcome before that outcome can be achieved. Thus, the numeric findings reported here are not fully indicative of the troubles that they think lie between now and 2035.

    In fact, in answer to a separate question in which they were asked how they see digital spaces generally evolving now, a majority (70%), said current technological evolution has both positives and negatives, 18% said digital spaces are evolving in a mostly negative way that is likely to lead to a worse future for society, 10% said the online world is evolving in a mostly positive way that is likely to lead to a better society, and about 3% said digital spaces are not evolving in one direction or another.

    It is also worth noting that the responses were gathered in mid-summer of 2021. People’s responses came in the cultural context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and at a time when rising concerns over climate change, racial justice and social inequality were particularly prominent – and half a year after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol in the aftermath of one of the most highly contentious U.S. presidential elections in recent history.

    This is a nonscientific canvassing, based on a nonrandom sample. The results represent only the opinions of the individuals who responded to the queries and are not project-able to any other population.

    The bulk of this report covers these experts’ written answers explaining their responses to our questions. They sounded many broad themes in sharing their insights about the evolution of the digital “town squares” most people frequent.

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