Thanksgiving celebrates the link between freedom and survival

Thanksgiving celebrates the link between freedom and survival

Thanksgiving celebrates the link between freedom and survival

Like Christmas, the Left would love nothing more than to strip the Thanksgiving holiday of all significance and reduce it to just another secular celebration of excess and social engineering.

And in too many American homes, the strategy has worked.

But unlike Christmas, the job is (or should be) twice as difficult because Thanksgiving has both a religious and a distinctly political component — either one of which would be well worth suppressing, from the liberal point of view.

In years’ past, teachers had to at least pay lip service to the reality that Thanksgiving has always been a recreation of the feast enjoyed by the Pilgrims to thank God for helping most of them survive the first year on these shores.

Goaded on, as always, by their union, educators these days generally manage to omit that part of the story entirely or, if questioned about the holiday’s name, often suggest the celebration was staged to thank Native Americans for befriending and equipping the settlers with basic survival skills.

The political aspect of the story, as has been well-documented but studiously ignored for years in our schools, involves the so-called Mayflower Compact agreed to by the Pilgrims while still en route to the New World.

Under its provisions, the fledgling colony was to be a socialist enterprise in which all shared equally in its bounty. The irony, of course, is that it was presumably this same sort of Big Government intrusion into their lives they were fleeing in the first place.

As has always been the case, however, the experiment in collectivism proved a dismal failure because too many of the settlers took the document as a license to put forth only the minimum effort needed to get by.

In fact, William Bradford, the colony’s governor, characterized the problem as “communism” 150 years before Karl Marx appropriated the term.

 Property in Plymouth Colony, he noted, was communally owned and cultivated. This system (“taking away of property and bringing it into a commonwealth”) bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to (the settlers’) benefit and comfort.”

Only after the Compact was absolved and individuals were made responsible for their own actions and allowed to reap the benefits of their hard work did the Pilgrims avoid starvation.

The settlement — and ultimately the nation it presaged — thus became a monument to religious, personal and economic expression. And over the ensuing 400 years, the society spawned by their faith and toil evolved into the most prosperous, most generous and most civilized on earth precisely because it was also the most free.

Sadly, we find ourselves these days in genuine peril of squandering our liberty when it is sacrificed on the altar of the same groupthink that nearly doomed the nation in utero.

At the Freedom Foundation, our mission is to ensure that never happens. Our daily crusade against public-sector unions is nothing less than a full-throated defense of the same ideals of liberty, responsibility and respect for the rights of others on which this country was founded.

By taking on the biggest bully on the block, we make it a safer, more welcoming place for all who live here. And we do it by recognizing the lessons the Pilgrims learned the hard way.

The Freedom Foundation wishes you a joyous, free Thanksgiving. And many more to come.

Vice President for News and Information
Jeff is a native of West Virginia and a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in journalism. He served in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., as a broadcast journalist and has worked at a number of newspapers in West Virginia and Washington. Most recently, he spent 11 years as editor of the Port Orchard (Wash.) Independent, which earned the 2011 Washington Newspaper Publishers’ Association’s General Excellence Award as the top community newspaper in Washington. Previously, he was editor of the Business Examiner newspaper in Tacoma, Wash., for seven years. Jeff lives in Lacey; he and his wife have grown twin daughters.