Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving (continued)

The story of how America's anglo colonists were assisted by Native Americans (the Wampanoag to be more precise) through their first winter is standard fare in grade school. These colonists came to America with the aim of establishing what in their minds was a purer form of Christianity. Their landmark, and now hallmark, is Plymouth Rock (Cape Cod area in New England).

Around Thanksgiving 2004, the Anglos (UK) and the Americans (USA) launched Operation Plymouth Rock inside of Iraq, an undertaking so named in recognition of the timing. After the fighting, mass quantities of turkey were consumed. Some of the soldiers wore cowboy hats while they ate, which is appropriate, because the United States military developed much of its esprit de corps during the Indian Wars, a time when immigration pressures were pushing Europeans all the way to the Pacific Ocean in search of a brighter future.

That same religious fervor and sense of destiny which helped fuel the Indian Wars is evident in Iraq today. Iraqis are often regarded as heathens, a term referring to those who have not yet converted to Christianity (of course, many Iraqis do practice Christianity -- not a big topic on USA TV, too confusing). Many Christians look at the Middle East as a backdrop for momentous, even apocalyptic events, as they read their Book of Revelation and try to see which of its many cryptic prophecies might be coming true. There's always the hope that Jesus himself will reincarnate (that is, if he hasn't already, like in Korea or some place). This fascination with the Middle East dates back to the crusades and before.

Religious fervor has always been a potent recruiting tool for the various armies. Jews and Muslims use it too. The US military is theoretically neutral in the religious wars and open to members of any faith or practice. However, there's a huge temptation to fall back on religious themes when the killing of one's fellow human is the order of the day. Patriotism minus a strongly gung-ho, flag-waving deity just doesn't galvanize to the same extent.

Although the history of Anglo-Indian relations still resonantes in 2004, adult consciousness does little to perpetuate these memories. Thanksgiving has become a time for parades, usually with civilian and commercial themes, such as characters from children's television: Spongebob Squarepants for example. And of course it's a time for creatively stuffing oneself (see below) and watching football (more like rugby than soccer).

Native Americans currently have no real presence in TV land, except in old Hollywood movies about cowboys and their brave, romantic ways (a genre that doesn't attract large audiences any more; many of these films were grayscale instead of RGB).

The Friday following Thanksgiving still resonates with a sense of "the harvest" and the wealth of the land. USAers go shopping en masse on that day. Merchants count on mob psychology to more than make up for the lower prices; a buying spree mentality moves a lot of merchandize off the shelves that'd otherwise just sit there through the holidays. Some call this Black Friday, because it puts corporations "in the black." Corporations like black. Red, on the other hand, means you're losing money, which is like bleeding to death (not good).