Paul L. Caron
Dean




Thursday, November 25, 2021

WSJ Refuses To Cancel Its Annual Thanksgiving Editorials

Wall Street Journal editorial, Censoring the Pilgrims:

WSJ OpinionNo doubt it was only a matter of time. The progressives have come for our annual Thanksgiving editorials. They won’t succeed, but we thought we’d share the tale with readers for an insight into the politicization of everything, even Thanksgiving.

Since 1961 we’ve run a pair of editorials written by our former editor Vermont Royster. The first is a historical account about the Pilgrims in 1620 as related by William Bradford, a governor of Plymouth Colony. The second is a contemporary contrast from the mid-20th century about the progress a prosperous America has made that we can all be thankful for.

The editorials are popular with readers, who tell us they appreciate the sentiments about hardship and gratitude during what should be a unifying national holiday. For decades we’ve run them with nary a discouraging word.

But we live in a new era when the left sees nearly everything through the reductive lens of identity politics. It sees much of American history as a racist project that should be erased. This is the motivation of a petition campaign to censor the Pilgrim editorial.

The effort comes via Change.org, a website that calls itself “the world’s platform for change.” It mobilizes campaigns to promote progressive causes. The petition driver is Randy Kritkausky, an author who writes about Native Americans. His petition has gathered some 50,000 signatures and here’s its argument:

Tell the Wall Street Journal that it’s 2021. It’s time to stop publishing 17th century racism. ...

We don’t mind giving critics a chance to make their case, but we won’t bend to political demands for censorship. We will run the editorials as usual this week.

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Don’t Let Ideologues Steal Thanksgiving, by Melanie Kirkpatrick (Hudson Institute):

As we mark the 400th anniversary of what has come to be known as the First Thanksgiving, it is sadly necessary to come to the defense of the long-cherished holiday.

Thanksgiving is Americans’ oldest tradition, celebrated by almost every native-born citizen as well as by newcomers, for whom it is a rite of passage into the national family. The tradition extends outside the country. No matter where in the world we Americans find ourselves on the fourth Thursday of November, we come together to give thanks—fulfilling the prediction of Sarah Josepha Hale, the 19th-century magazine editor by whose singular efforts Thanksgiving was transformed from a series of local celebrations on various dates into a shared national one.

The felicitous custom of the holiday demands that no one be excluded. The widowed aunt, the grouchy grandpa, the coworker with nowhere else to go—all receive invitations to dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Americans on the margins of society are included in the celebration thanks to the generosity of individuals, religious organizations and philanthropies that make sure the less fortunate among us have an opportunity to mark the day. Everyone has a place at the nation’s Thanksgiving table, regardless of circumstances or creed.

If this depiction of Thanksgiving reflects what you put into practice every year in late November, increasingly loud voices are telling you to think again. Thanksgiving is under unprecedented assault from progressives who want to expunge it from American life. In our woke era, it has become fashionable in some quarters to attack Thanksgiving as cultural or environmental exploitation. Left unmentioned are gratitude and God. ...

The central similarity between the First Thanksgiving and every subsequent one is something less tangible: a spirit of gratitude. This year, as we mark four centuries of Thanksgivings, Americans will do what we have always done since that original feast: We will express our gratitude with acts of hospitality and charity. Many of us will offer prayers of thanks to the Almighty, however we define him. In so doing, we will be following in the footsteps of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, while rejecting the campaign to rewrite Thanksgiving’s history.

Wall Street Journal editorial, The Desolate Wilderness:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love. ...

This editorial has appeared annually since 1961.

Wall Street Journal editorial, And the Fair Land:

Any one whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America.

And a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped.

So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. Yet the visitor, if he is to make an honest report, must also note the air of unease that hangs everywhere. ...

This editorial has appeared annually since 1961.

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