The Mayflower, Identity Politics and Pandemics

November 26, 2020
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The Mayflower, Identity Politics and Pandemics

As we hunker down for our most puritanical, asocial Thanksgiving ever, 399 years after the original event, we might remember it's the 400th anniversary of a much more significant event. That is the arrival of the Mayflower in November 1620 at a place the Wampanoag called Patuxet and the Pilgrims named Plimoth in honor of their port of departure in England. Like ourselves, the Pilgrims also had to remain hunkered down for a long bit, but they got to do it in the cold, damp gun deck of the Mayflower. Most were in ill health, winter had arrived, and it would be a while before cabins and other shelters on land were built.
 
For the Pilgrims the pandemic of significance was one that, literally, opened doors for their weak contingent of "invaders". A plague brought a few years earlier by visitors from England and Europe had, by 1620, decimated the Wampanoag and other tribes, reduced their ability to defend their land (if they had had a mind to do that), and led to abandonment of many of their cornfields. For the Pilgrims' descendants and ourselves what was most significant about their prolonged gun deck sojourn was a brief covenant, later to be called the Mayflower Compact, their leaders drafted. It proved the seed that a little more than a century-and-a-half later would blossom into the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
 
Historical revisionists and aficionados of identity politics, most conspicuously represented by the New York Times' "1619 Project", have been busy on this topic in recent years. The upside of that is a recent large spate of excellent writing by better historians and more forward-looking Americans. Here's a very brief anthology covering these topics.
 

The Pilgrims' Miserable Journey Aboard the Mayflower, Dave Roos, History.com, November 20, 2020

How the Mayflower Compact Laid a Foundation for American Democracy, Sarah Pruitt, History.com, September 15, 2020

A Book for Our Times: Peter Wood's 1620 Skewers 1619 Project, Stanley Kurtz, National Review, November 16, 2020:

"I can think of no book more deserving of a review in The New York Times—or less likely to receive one—than Peter Wood's just-published 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project. More than a powerful refutation, Wood's 1620 is a withering appraisal and deadpan skewering of the 1619 Project as a cultural phenomenon. That ill-starred journalistic project is the purest and most perfect example of woke. The cultural revolution of 2020 will always rightly be associated with the 1619 Project of The New York Times. Not for nothing did project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones cheerfully embrace the term "1619 riots.""

‘They Sailed Up Out Of The Infinite': An Introduction To The 1620 Project, Ben Domenech, The Federalist, November 18, 2020

How The Mayflower Compact Changed History Forever 400 Years Ago, Wilfred McClay, The Federalist, November 18, 2020

1619 and the Poisoned Well of Identity Politics, Mike Gonzalez, Law & Liberty, November 17, 2020 [Review of book by Peter Wood]

1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project, Peter Wood, Encounter Books, 2020

"When and where was America founded? Was it in Virginia in 1619, when a pirate ship landed a group of captive Africans at Jamestown? So asserted the New York Times in August 2019 when it announced its 1619 Project. The Times set out to transform history by tracing American institutions, culture, and prosperity to that pirate ship and the exploitation of African Americans that followed. A controversy erupted, with historians pushing back against what they say is a false narrative conjured out of racial grievance.

This book sums up what the critics have said and argues that the proper starting point for the American story is 1620, with the signing of the Mayflower Compact aboard ship before the Pilgrims set foot in the Massachusetts wilderness. A nation as complex as ours, of course, has many starting points, most notably the Declaration of Independence in 1776. But the quintessential ideas of American self-government and ordered liberty grew from the deliberate actions of the Mayflower immigrants in 1620. Schools across the country have already adopted the Times' radical revision of history as part of their curricula. The stakes are high. Should children be taught that our nation is a four-hundred-year-old system of racist oppression? Or should they learn that what has always made America exceptional is our pursuit of liberty and justice for all?"

More Salem than Thanksgiving: Coronavirus panic has set America back hundreds of years, Heather Mac Donald, The Spectator, November 24, 2020

"Today, we are strangling American society in order to avoid a risk of death so infinitesimal — roughly 0.001 percent — for the majority of Americans that it would not have registered in any possible cost-benefit analysis governing both notable American endeavors and quotidian activities over the last four centuries. Our current Thanksgiving Day mantras — ‘Stay within your pod. Stay within your bubble. Stay within your household' (in the words of a University of California, San Francisco, epidemiologist); don't travel, don't share food, don't touch your family members or friends, speak only in hushed tones — make a mockery of the spirit that creates a country and sustains human life.

This present moment is less like that first Thanksgiving celebration and more like the Salem witch frenzy of 1692. To be sure, the coronavirus is real; witches were not. The virus has cost thousands of lives; witches did not. But the fear that has gripped much of the population over the last year, whipped up by sundry experts and authorities, is as disconnected from reason as that emblematic burst of hysteria in colonial Massachusetts and other such panics throughout medieval and early modern Europe."

Unmentioned by Mac Donald: the hyping of the pandemic by the Democrat party and its acolytes in the press for the purpose of blaming Trump for "hundreds of thousands of deaths" and predicting "hundreds of thousands" more if Biden was not elected.]

Massachusetts' Plimoth Plantation Will Change Its Name, Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, July 16, 2020

"The new moniker will incorporate the Mashpee Wampanoag name for the region: Patuxet"

The above section is by Stuart Hurlbert
 

Additonal articles - CAIRCO research

Why We Chose 1620 as the Year of 'Our True Founding,' not 1619, by Rebecca Mansour, November 26, 2020. An excellent and accurate description of the Pilgrim's arrival at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, which President John Quincy Adams described as the "birthday" of our nation.

Video: What's the Truth About the First Thanksgiving?, PragerU, November 26, 2020.

No, The Pilgrims Didn’t Desecrate Native American Graves, And Other Myths You Shouldn’t Believe, by Keith Stanglin, The Federalist, November 26, 2020.

400 Years Later, I Made New Discoveries About The First Thanksgiving, by Jane Hampton Cook, The Federalist, November 26, 2020.

Audio: Federalist Radio Hour Special: The Meaning Of Thanksgiving, The Federalist, November 26, 2020.

Articles from The Federalist 1620 Project

How Reformed Theologians’ Commitment To Self-Rule And Resisting Tyranny Helped Form America, by Mark David Hall, November 26, 2020.

How The Pilgrims Planted The Seeds For America’s Constitutional Rights And Liberties, by Daniel L. Dreisbach, November 25, 2020.

How America’s Adams Family Inherited And Preserved The Pilgrim Mind, Susan Hanssen, November 24, 2020.

How The Bible Inspired The American Founding From The Beginning, by Yoram Ettinger, November 23, 2020.

The Historical Record Shows America Was Founded Against Racism, Not To Promote It, by Carson Holloway, November 20, 2020.

Why 1620 - Not 1619 - Is A Better Representation Of The American Way, by Newt Gingrich, November 19, 2020.

'They Sailed Up Out Of The Infinite': An Introduction To The 1620 Project, by Ben Domenech, November 18, 2020.

How The Mayflower Compact Changed History Forever 400 Years Ago, by Wilfred M. McClay, November 18, 2020.

400 Years Later, The Mayflower Compact Matters Now More Than Ever, by Evita Duffy, November 11, 2020.