Skip to comments.Thanksgiving Dumbed Down
Posted on 11/21/2012 3:57:11 PM PST by Kaslin
If Abraham Lincoln released his October 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation today, it would be panned by all sides. In the statement that is considered the beginning of the unbroken annual tradition of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations, Lincoln said that God had dealt with us in anger for our sins. He recommended humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.
The words sin and perverse would set off the Left as overly judgmental and embarrassingly archaic. The Right would bristle at national self-criticism from the countrys commander-in-chief (at a time of war, no less).
Lincoln had good reason to speak of perversity, of course. He was knee-deep in blood in a civil war precipitated by half the countrys leaving the Union so it could protect slavery. But his proclamation was firmly within the American tradition.
The Thanksgiving proclamation at Charlestown, Mass., in 1676 referred to Gods sore displeasure against us for our sins. The founding generation of presidents struck similar notes. In 1789, George Washington urged that we unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions. John Adams in 1798 recommended that religious congregations acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation.
This line carried through into the 20th century. Dwight Eisenhower spoke of the need to bow before God in contrition for our sins. Both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush acknowledged George Washington on our shortcomings and transgressions. But any suggestion of national failings, let alone sin or perversity, has gone missing from the Thanksgiving proclamations of recent decades (and so has much of the majesty).
Without it, we lose any sense that we have an obligation to live up to a national standard that derives, if not from the God of the Bible, from the natural law. This has always been part of what makes America different from other nations. France will always be France no matter what, but America involves striving toward an ideal. The great political scientist Samuel Huntington, in rebutting the new Left of the 1960s, whose sense of the nations sinfulness exceeded all reasonable bounds, stated it nicely. Critics say that America is a lie because its reality falls so far short of its ideals, he wrote. They are wrong. America is not a lie; it is a disappointment. But it can be a disappointment only because it is also a hope. Or as Lincoln put it in his famous phrase, we are the almost chosen people.
Not surprisingly, President Barack Obamas Thanksgiving proclamations have been particularly pedestrian and perfunctory. God is lucky to get a mention or two. In his 2009 proclamation, the only reference to God came in a quote from George Washington. If his proclamation of America Recycles Day (we rededicate ourselves to building a more sustainable future) invoked the divine providence somewhere, it wouldnt be so different in tone or content from his Thanksgiving proclamations.
What God has lost in prominence in Obamas statements has been gained by the American Indians, in a bow to multicultural pieties. His 2010 proclamation described how a spirit of Thanksgiving brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Mass., for thousands of years in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago. His proclamation last year urged the country to remember the ways that the first Americans have enriched our nations heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life. Near the end, that proclamation included the ringing, Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the years to come.
From Lincolns fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation to Obamas pay it forward is a long way down.
don’t worry, they’ll make a film where it comes out all PC
One needs to be sufficiently good to get chosen? ... chosen by whom, for what purpose?
Of course he had good reason to speak of perversity. It was simply easier to blame "perversity" for the troubles of the time than to take responsibility for his own role in the bloodshed.
Starting with the Pilgrims it has been Thanksgiving to God for another trip around the sun that provided enough sustanance through hard work "by the sweat of their brow" that made them so thankful.
The fact that the latest in the long series of gigantic dust storms occurred with a vengence just before my spouse and I were born really brought it home to us as we head into Thanksgiving to God weekend.
Black friday meant something altogether different back in those days!!!
There is no other holiday in all the world that is so uniquely and genuinely American that includes our deeply religious heritage!!!
It’s dumbed down for sure. “Be sure to give thanks for what you have” says the increasingly secular society.
The inevitable follow-ons: To who? For what? Why? All I have I worked for and my ability to do that work was little more than blind luck in the roulette wheel of life, so why would I thank anyone? And, again, who would I be thanking?
The only Democrat I see on Rushmore is ol Tom Jefferson who presided over the bloody seige against Americans just because they were simple savages who got in the way of his dreams and the descendents of unbridled fellow white european males!!!
Excellent post and so timely as well as thought provoking with provoking thoughts. Thanks for bringing it here, Kaslin.
How sustainable is the current future?
All I know is the future isn't what it used to be.
They did! And it’s just out on DVD.” Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter”
The only proclamation that I want from Obama is his resignation.
Here is a Thanksgiving proclamation from a REAL president.
From anything that anyone says to anything that Obama says is a long way down.