Colorado’s controversial former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo spun an edifying Thanksgiving yarn over the holiday week. It was, you might say, an alternative reading of the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians. The fact that the general thrust of the tale is nothing new for Tancredo, doesn’t really lessen the shock value of its retelling!
Tancredo told the tale to KHOW radio listeners on Thanksgiving Eve, The Tank no doubt coming down from his work earlier in the week helping to draft and present the embattled Colorado GOP “Platform for Prosperity” meant to unite the state Republican Party and designed primarily, it seems, by McInnis and his one-time gubernatorial primary race rival Josh Penry. Tancredo, of course, likely worked in the lines about making sure employers verify workers are legal residents or citizens of the U.S.
Among other things, listeners to his show Wednesday learned that, although slavery was not good, African Americans are better off for having been brought out of Africa to live in America; that Native American culture was only environmentally friendly because it lacked industrial-age sophistication; and that the (perhaps) Dutch Pilgrims came to America not to flee religious intolerance, but as part of an admirable quest to start an exclusive and intolerant society of their own. They also, in this telling, seem to have paved the way for Columbus.
“They had come from Holland, where there was a great deal of religious freedom and far too much for them, as a matter of fact. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like living around other people who had a different attitudes about God. And so they thought, ‘Let’s get out of here and go where we can be what we want to be and don’t have to live by people who don’t think the way we do.'”
Tancredo then poses a rhetorical question:
“Were the [Pilgrims] brave Christians who risked everything to gain religious freedom in the new world or were they European interlopers guilty of genocide?– which is the way they are portrayed in most history books today and the way that most children think of them. The schools have done this. The cult of multiculturalism has done this.”
And here we land upon Tancredo’s Thanksgiving Day message: Multiculturalism is destroying American culture. He said that if the Native Americans had really wanted to save their own culture and were smart, they would have killed the pilgrims. Here Tancredo was drawing on a speech he gave to the American University earlier this year.
According to American Renaisance, a white nationalist magazine, Tancredo said at the function that, “Throughout history, people who are not white Anglo-Saxon have become American by adopting a white Anglo-Saxon culture. Today, this cult of multiculturality emphasizes our differences— things that pull us apart instead of bringing us together.”
He was no less adamant on the radio Wednesday:
“We were dividing our selves–this multicultural push that we have is dividing us up into camps… The Indians, the biggest mistake they made was accommodating us, if you want. The Puritans. The Pilgrims that followed them. Columbus later. And it led to their destruction. Undeniably true. Their society, their way of life ended. And the beginning of the end started the day the pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock.”
The Tancredo Thanksgiving Tale:
25 November 2009
TANCREDO: But going back before that we have this fact that the pilgrims came here to the colonies. Well there was no colonies. They came here to Plymouth Rock, established a new existence for themselves, their families, et cetera. We have a tendency of thinking of them as coming here trying to find religious freedom. In fact it was a little bit different than that.
They had come from Holland, where there was a great deal of religious freedom and far too much for them as a matter of fact. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like living around other people who had a different attitude about God. And so they thought “Let’s get out of here and go where we can be what we want to be and don’t have to live by people who don’t think the way we do.” So it wasn’t really to find religious freedom. It was to establish a place where they could do what they wanted to do unencumbered and uninhibited.
Now the way the history books treat them today — of course they are ravaged by most history books and revisionists and people who want to create the worst possible image of the people who came here and started the country. So the question was Were they brave Christians who risked everything to gain religious freedom in the new world or were they fanatical European interlopers guilty of genocide?– which is the way they are portrayed in most history books today and the way that most children think of them. The schools have done this. The cult of multiculturalism has done this. So the question I guess is whether or not– I mean what is accurate?
They came in 1620, I think it was, about 100 of them. Only half that many survived the first winter in new England, so you had about and 50 of them left. They did make friends with Indians there. The tribe was the Wampanoag. They were befriended by them. They had a treaty for about 40 years as a matter of fact. Why? A little lesson here.
The Wampanoag saw them as an ally. They could gain their support against their historical enemy, the Narragansett . They were fighting with them a long time, they thought “Geez, these guys might help us out.” So they became friends with the colonists. Then a lot of things happened and they got in a fight. So after 40 years a lot of other stuff occurred. But that is what happened. And yes at a certain point they did get together and share some of the bounty of the land but that wasn’t the first year that they were there.
But at any rate, the point that is really interesting is– and a different take that I have on this than perhaps a lot of people on my side of the political isle, on the conservative side, who look at this whole thing and say “Why is it that everything in American– everything in our history is portrayed in the worst possible light?”
Well, see, about I don’t know 6 months ago I was speaking at American University and I was talking about the problems with the whole issue and the phenomena of multiculturalism. And I was talking about the fact that we are dividing ourselves up in this country. We were dividing our selves– this multiculturalist push that we have is dividing us up into camps– linguistic and ethnic and religious and familial. All of these things. The cult of multiculturalism is not something which unifies us. It is something that divides us, I was saying. And it is a bad thing and we should fight it.
But by the end of this speech– and by the way this crowed was not friendly: American University, probably 400 students. I would say 50 were on my side; 350 certainly were not– came in with these signs all in Spanish. I couldn’t read them. But they would just sit there holding these signs up. Then at the end they started screaming and yelling and getting obnoxious. But during the speech they were fairly pleasant, I mean they just sat there with these signs.
And then one guy screamed out at one point in time: “Well you know what we should have treated– the Indians should have treated us the same way that you are talking about treating other immigrants to the country.”
And I guess he was surprised by what he said. Because what I said was “You’re right. You are absolutely right. The Indians, the biggest mistake they made was accommodating us, if you want. The puritans. The pilgrims that followed them. Columbus later. And it led to their destruction. Undeniably true. Their society, their way of life ended. And the beginning of the end started the day the pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock. And I think it was Malcolm X that coined that phrase “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us.”
In fact, in Plymouth– in Massachusetts where Plymouth Rock supposedly exists, the town there has for the last 6 or 7 years– 5 or 7 years ago, I should say, put up a big sign that said “The Native Americans in this area don’t believe that we should be celebrating this day. They say it is the beginning of the end.” You would think that you would see something that said “Here is where the pilgrims landed.” No. It is this other thing to stress the fact that it was a bad deal for the Indians. Excuse me, Native Americans.
And you know what? It was. A lot of bad things happened to them. And they probably should have done something different. If they wanted to preserve their culture. They should have resisted the onslaught of these Westerners. They didn’t however except in scattered and uncoordinated opposition. They really didn’t do anything that was going to be significant enough to stop it. Here are 51 people. Okay. 51 people survived the first winter in Plymouth colony. And those 51 people, how could they have possibly overcome the advantages that the Native Americans there have just in numbers? The [pilgrims] could have been gone in the blink of an eye. Just like that. Why were they not? Why were they not. How come they were able to do what they did?
How were they able to prosper and expand, and more people came. And how come when Cortez came to the quote New World and landed and eventually ended up in what is now Mexico, of course, and was able to defeat a civilization that was centuries old–hundreds of thousands of–in fact millions of people made that civilization which he with 400 and some people conquered. How could this be?
Because of course the Indians who were here, the native Americans, the Aztecs and all the rest were not unified. They were enemies. They had been killing each other off because they were tribal and they were unable to get together and respond. Hence, they fell.
Now there were other reason of course. The cultural advantages–I mean the technological advantages of the people who came here. Let’s face it the people–the Native Americans had not even created the wheel. That is a problem when you face a civilization that comes with ships and guns.[…]
They were, by the way this was not a society that was friendly to the land as we were led to believe. Remember that commercial of the Indian on a horse looking out over a, I don’t know, it was a highway in California or something. Trash was all over the place and this tear came to his eye. Let me tell you, my friends, the only reason that the trash wasn’t here when we got here was because nobody could make paper. It wasn’t because of this love for this pristine environment.
If you think that there is that within the Native American culture, please just go up and take a look at the roads at the Sioux Indian Reservation, the Crow reservation, almost any reservation in the United States. This is not– not necessarily, I mean some are better than others– but for the most part they are not models of a clean society. Lots of things happening here. And I don’t mean to put them down. I happen to really enjoy the Native American culture and appreciate what they were all about. But we have to be realistic about things and recognize that
when one culture, as I say, gets here with the technology that the West had at the time and faced a culture without that technology and there was a clash– probably no one is going to be too surprised which side
Now, the– but all that said– I am not telling you it is a good thing. It is just the way it was. And I think to tell you truth that perhaps people who live here today that were not, that did not come here voluntarily, I think that many of those people are lucky that they do live here even though their ancestors didn’t get here on the Mayflower. Mine certainly didn’t. But made the decision to come. But a lot of people didn’t. African Americans certainly. They for the most part, their relatives, their ancestors did not choose to come here.
Now the question that we have to ask ourselves and certainly African Americans have to ask themselves is: Are they better off as a result of the fact that they came under any conditions? And it does not mean for a second–let me reiterate– it does not for a second mean that slavery was a good thing, that we should be happy about it. It is a black mark on our society and all societies that have had it since the beginning of time. Or recorded time… It doesn’t mean it is good. Is someone better off today in the United States of America as a result that they came under–or are Native Americans better off as a result that people came here from the West and created the society that we have here? Or would they have been better off if that had not happened?
Everything is relative and depends on what you consider to be better, of course. But in terms of being thankful on Thanksgiving, I think probably everybody here could be thankful. No matter how they got here.