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Jewish World Review / Dec. 2 1998 / 13 Kislev, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth

WHILE YOU WERE AT YOUR THANKSGIVING TABLE last week, members of the Grudge-of-the-Month Club invaded Plymouth, Mass., for their annual "Day of Mourning."

The heirs of Anxious Antelope and Pensive Possum were joined by a supporting cast united only by their hatred for America.

Latinos for Social Justice linked arms with the Nation of Islam. "Homophobia is not native to these shores," proclaimed one banner, while another demanded the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther convicted of killing a Philadelphia cop.

Peace Lover Fighter Intense Yeoman (aka Joel Stanley) cryptically declared, "They can take their cholesterol-filled turkey and stuff it."

At last year's gala, 25 demonstrators were arrested for marching without a permit. Faced with an ACLU lawsuit, Plymouth's Board of Selectman capitulated and signed an accord that would have done Neville Chamberlain proud.

Plymouth agreed to contribute $100,000 to a Native American mis-education fund and erect two plaques on public property admitting America's guilt for "the genocide of millions of Indians" and "the theft of their land," among other offenses.

Their appetite whetted, over 800 of the chronically aggrieved gathered this year to decry the "European invasion." Speakers recited the usual Evil-White-Man-Noble-Savage litany.

I was singled out for censure as "an ignorant, under-educated person" for an earlier column in which I challenged fantasy history. Columnist speak with forked tongue, the activists averred.

"I mean not to offend any of our Jewish friends," said Clint Winson of the Pakapoag Nation.

"But, in response to Don Feder: The Holocaust was history, get over it."

This was a witty rejoinder to my observation that the history of every nation includes its share of invasions, dispossessions and injustices.

No offense to Clint and his nation, but the Holocaust wasn't a clash of cultures, with nobility and villainy on both sides. It was genocide committed on defenseless victims. None of the Holocaust histories I've read mention Jewish war parties massacring peaceful German settlers.

Hitler wasn't stopped by the Apaches but by the armies of that country whose conception the Plymouth protesters mourn.

The activists were outraged by my description of the Indians as primitives with a Stone Age culture that had neither a written language, metallurgy nor the wheel.

Reality is awfully insensitive. Still, it's important to recall that Native Americans did not build great canoes and cross the Big Water to discover Europe.

Theodore Roosevelt spent several years ranching in the Dakotas while there was still a frontier. In "The Winning of the West," Roosevelt wrote: "Not only were the Indians very terrible in battle, but they were cruel beyond all belief in victory; and the gloomy annals of border warfare are stained with their darkest hues because it was a war in which helpless women and children suffered the same hideous fate that so often befell their husbands and fathers."

As revisionists mythologize Indians, our earliest English settlers are pilloried. The Rev. Michael Leduc, minister of Plymouth's Unitarian Universalist Church, complains, "There are, unfortunately, people in the world who have an idolatry of the Pilgrims."

That's a curious word -- "idolatry" -- to describe those who honor the Pilgrims for bringing the Bible to these shores, giving us the Mayflower Compact that laid the foundation for the Constitution and dying in droves that first cruel winter to nurture the seed from which our country would grow.

Plymouth protesters insist that America was a tragic mistake, our history is ignoble and the only valid reason for our continued existence is to provide racial reparations. Such attitudes, which dominate the councils of the elite, are the single greatest threat to our survival.

Ordinary Americans reject these lies. Several months ago, the National Education Association, that bastion of political correctness, commissioned a survey of parents. In the poll, 85 percent said it's essential that "kids, whatever their racial or ethnic background, learn that we are all part of one nation."

Of foreign-born black and Hispanic parents, better than two-thirds said the schools should "teach kids to be proud of the U.S. and learn rights and responsibilities of citizenship." The antidote to Days of Mourning is an acknowledgment of our indebtedness to the Pilgrims and others who shaped the American character.

When we look at them, we should see ourselves. They may not have been Asian or black, Jewish or Catholic (as so many of us are today), but we are their descendants -- in spirit if not in blood.


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