Sunday, November 22, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: The Dark Side of Thanksgiving

After reading a devastating revisionist history of the origins of Thanksgiving (really: if you're at all sentimental about the history of the holiday, don't read it. If, like me, your sentiment is reserved for the modern practice of the holiday, the admittedly invented traditions and family memories, you should be fine.) I wrote:
I'm having a more complex reaction to this post, though. As it notes, huge numbers of Native Americans died as a result of disease rather than direct European action: this sets up a causality problem. Even in the absence of European eliminationist violence, Native American communities were going to be devastated in the short run, and possibly the long run, due to disease. Conversely, even in the absence of the "Columbian Exchange" diseases, European eliminationist violence was going to disrupt and dislocate Native American society in the long run, though it might have looked different in the short run.

I'm having trouble imagining plausible alternative histories. It's a failure of imagination on my part, perhaps, but that's where I am at the moment.

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