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Jewish World Review / Oct. 26, 1998 / 6 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Plymouth caves to Pilgrim foes

PLYMOUTH, MASS., styles itself as America's hometown. After its shameful surrender to a militant gang last week, it should change its name to the multicultural mecca or PC Wonderland.

In the streets of Plymouth on Thanksgiving Day, 1997, a group of 200 or so professional Indians and their radical allies staged a protest of Pilgrim imperialism.

They've been holding these sulk fests every year since 1970. Once, they attacked the Plymouth Rock monument. On another occasion, they disrupted a church service.

Last year, they planned and provoked a confrontation with police.

What would they say today?
Days before the event, an organizer warned that there would be a few "surprises." After a speaker urged demonstrators to "take back the streets" (the rhetoric was vintage '60s), they paraded without a permit, blocked traffic and refused police orders to disperse.

In consequence, 23 demonstrators were arrested. Protesters sued the police for using excessive force.

The Plymouth board of selectmen reached a settlement with the Indians last week. The town dropped all charges, and the Indians ended their suit.

Plymouth also agreed to pay the protesters' legal fees ($20,000), set up a $100,000 educational fund to teach a revisionist history of the settlement of America (including showings of "Dances With Wolves," perhaps?), and spend $15,000 on two plaques.

The memorials, which will be erected on public property at taxpayers' expense, speak of the "genocide of millions" of Indians, "the theft of their land and the relentless assault on their culture," as well as the ongoing "racism and oppression" of Native Americans.

Police spokesman Paul Boyle called the deal "a payoff to criminals and terrorists."

Linda Teagan, the lone dissenting voice on the board of selectmen, said the agreement "violated whatever I believe in as far as justice and honor and logic is concerned."

Hereafter, the Indians will be allowed to march on Thanksgiving without a permit, giving them a right no other group (Irish Americans, Italian Americans) enjoys in the town.

Emboldened by their success, Mahtowin Munro of the United American Indians of New England promised a larger, and presumably more obnoxious, gathering this year.

The protesters -- who are self-appointed spokesmen for the roughly half-million descendants of indigenous people -- are malcontents whose only agenda is resentment.

The implication of their annual "National Day of Mourning" is that America should never have happened.

Would the world really be a better place if nomadic hunters and herders with a Stone Age culture (that hadn't managed to invent the wheel or a written language) had remained the sole proprietors of this continent?

Would present-day Native Americans be better off with an average life span of 35 years (most of it spent grubbing for food), periodically starving in a fertile land, fighting bloody wars with primitive weapons, exterminating or enslaving other indigenous people, and (in the case of the Iroquois and certain Plains tribes) practicing human sacrifice?

They lost this glory and gained citizenship in the greatest nation on Earth. Not a bad bargain.

As we approach the beginning of the third millennium, would humanity be happier without the American experiment in representative government and human rights (the Constitution is a direct descendant of the Mayflower Compact), without America's steadfast defense of freedom in this century and without the industrial engine of prosperity created on these shores?

Memo to Mahtowin Munro: Your ancestors were defeated. Get over it.

Yours is but one chapter in a sad saga of more powerful groups dispossessing the less powerful. My own people were enslaved by Egyptians, overrun by Babylonians, subjugated by Syrian Greeks, conquered by Romans, evicted by the Spanish and oppressed by most of Europe for much of a millennium. It's called history.

Regrettably, the Plymouth protesters aren't alone. Afrocentrists (still whining about an institution that ended 133 years ago), Hispanic activists (who insist the Southwest is stolen property) and other perpetually aggrieved minorities are also coming, hatchets in hand, to demolish the greatest experiment in genuine diversity the world has ever known.

By their gutless cave-in, the Plymouth selectmen have sanctioned this assault on our heritage and threat to our future. Shame on them. It's a pity Plymouth Rock can't be moved to Omaha or some other place that understands and honors its symbolic significance.


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©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.