Faute de mieux (that's French), I watched the linked program below. Barry Lando apparently thinks that the Chinese, Pakistanis, Iranians, Iraqi Shia, Saudis, etc. have made fools of the United States while wandering the corridors of a maze. This is what, allegory? Extended metaphor? It seems to imply that these people and governments are not purposeful, and that they are not reacting to what they have correctly perceived to be the inherent "intellectual" weaknesses of Americans taken as a whole. Oh, yes, I left out the Israelis and their 5th column. My bad.
I would argue that none of this could have happened if the marketing of pop culture had not become the major motif (Ruritanian?) of American life. Today we hear politicians describe their pursuit of constitutional office as a process of "branding" and "packaging" people who are; wavy haired, moneyed, pretty, minoritied, etc. through a process which assumes that selling government is like selling toothpaste.
Perhaps the political consultants are correct, but I would opine that such a theory can only work well in an atmosphere in which the electorate are so poorly informed and ignorant of basic history, civics (remember that?) geography, etc. that they can be sold dog s--t for toothpaste if the marketing campaign is well enough funded.
This three hour film concerning the Plymouth colony's establishment is an interesting corrective to some of the nonsense most of us were fed in school about the event. This is a good example of our ignorance. Unfortunately only a handfull of "renegades" will ever see it. New England triumphalism in the educational field long ago convinced us that "America" began at Plymouth and that "the Pilgrim Fathers," were men of great ability and vision who arrived in New England in a pristine new land where they suffered nobly and yet persevered through that first awful winter to raise crops and to celebrate the first Thanksgiving the following autumn with their Indian neighbors who had been so impressed with the virtue of the Separatists (Pilgrims) that they had all become pals.
The film discloses the following:
- King James I only reluctantly allowed the Separatists to depart for Virginia to settle in the estuary region of the Hudson River. His reason? He wanted to be rid of them becasue they were waging a propaganda campaign from Holland against the Church of England. (They couldn't get there and decided on the Cape Cod area instead)
- It was far from true that New England (known by that name before the Pilgram settlement) was an unknown shore in England. English and other fishermen had been building and using temporary fish processing camps up and down the New England coast for at least twenty years. How do we know that? According to Bradford's first person account, several Indians who spoke English wandered into Plymouth within the first few months. "Samoset," and "Squanto" would be two such. The first had been working for the English in what is now Maine and the second had been "shanghaied" aboard an English merchant ship and transported to Spain where he and everal others were sold into slavery. He escaped and made his way to London where he worked for several years before taking passage on an English ship to Newfoundland (known then by that name) and then by English fishing vessels back to the Plymouth area where he found that nearly all the Indians that he knew were dead from newly introduced European disease.
- The question of disease (plague of some sort), naturally arises. My wife wisely observes that all the nonsense about blankets infected with smallpox makes no sense. Even if you believe that the the 17th Century English would do that, it was simply not necessary. All you had to do to infect the Indians was breathe on them, share food with them or sleep with a few of their women. Nature would then take its unlovely course. The opposite of this was also true. At both Jamestown and Plymouth the Europeans sickened and died from diseases they had not experienced before. The New England Indians appear to have lost at least half their numbers to European diseases before the settlements at Plymouth or Massachusetts Bay ever happened.
- Professor types and Indian activists are interspersed throughout the production. One of the professors really interested me. He mentioned the Jamestown Colony but insisted that it could "hardly be called a success." No? By 1620 when the Pilgrims arrived at their icebox, there were between 1500 and 2000 people in the Jamestown Colony. They had been through many of the same vicissitudes 15 years earlier and by 1620 had "turned the corner." They had also been celebrating a harvest festival a lot like Thanksgiving for a number of years.
- The Plymouth Colony was a monument to incompetent planning. Evidently, no one with any real knowledge of New England was consulted in "planning" the settlement. But then, we continue that tradition today. After all, like the Pilgrims, we are the representatives of a "brave new world." Old knowledge has little value in a "brave new world." In their ignorance and ineptitude the colonists proceeded with a landing in a sub-arctic wilderness in November. As a result they very nearly all died that first winter. About half survived. If some had not, I would not be writing this. Fortunately for them the ship was forced to "winter over" at Plymouth where it contunued to provide shelter and fortunately the "merchant adventurers" (businessmen) in London who funded the colony had stuffed the ship full of provisions. That's why they didn't starve to death before spring.
- Tradition, they were a "godly company" intent upon creating the "New Jerusalem" somewhere upon a hill where a theocracy could emerge. That was actually true of the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony founded in 1630 and carefully restricted to "the elect" as settlers, actually, the "elect" with money. Careful screening took placein Engand before embarcation. The separatists at Plymouth were a different matter. Over half of them were not separatists at all. They were useful folks who had signed on looking for fortune and opportunity in America just like the folks down at Jamestown. John Alden was a non-separatist construction worker. Miles Standish was a professional soldier looking for work, etc. The creation of the "Mayflower Compact' was occasioned by their settlement outside the area of the license or "patent" from the crown. The crown's authority did not extend to New England and the Compact was signed as a temporary bridge to provide a basis for government, not as a new Magna Carta.
- Lastly, the Wampanoag People who inhabited the area from modern Boston to the shank of Cape Cod had lost most of their people to the diseases previously mentioned. Massasoit, their headman, recognized that he needed powerful allies against surrounding enemy Indian "nations." The Pilgrims had guns and had been trained by Standish. They obviously needed allies if they were to survive. the Indian ,Squanto and and a man named Winslow who had the SF gift, negotiated a treaty of mutual security and reliance and so Plymouth survived.
Does this sound like the mythos (that's Greek) that you were fed as a kid? Does this sound like a basis for "American Exceptionalism" as justification for self satisfied meddling? Where is the "city on a hill" in this example of bungling and eventual resort to balance of power politics and diplomacy? Massachusett's Bay colony was a prime example of narrow minded theocratic oligarchy. It was even worse.
My ancestors did not care for it. They just kept moving west, farming, fighting Indians and working for the railroads unitil they reached the Pacific.
God Bless Them. pl