Thanksgiving feast draws protesters to Condit Elementary School

  • #1
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There was a lot hoopla recently over an elementary school's Thanksgiving tradition:

http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_11076282?source=most_emailed [Broken]

CLAREMONT - Both sides involved in Tuesday's protest over the Thanksgiving feast at Condit Elementary School claimed to be there for the children.

But with the heavy media attention, the children did not seem to be taking it all too seriously.

Claremont police Lt. Dennis Smith said Tuesday afternoon that children at the school kept running up to the fence, saying, "Put me on TV. Take my picture."

The protest started after parent and UC Riverside instructor Michelle Raheja wrote a letter to the Claremont Unified School District, upset about the holiday feast that has been held for decades.

The feast involves kindergartners at Mountain View and Condit elementary schools dressing up in costumes and taking turns visiting each other's schools.

Raheja took issue with the costumes, which she and other protesters believed to be perpetuating stereotypes about American Indians.

The protesters also objected to the celebration of Thanksgiving because the event glosses over the uglier parts of America's colonization.

Parents who came out in opposition to the protest said they believe Raheja and her supporters are trying to push a "liberal agenda" on the children.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Moonbear
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Someone stuff some turkey into those protester's mouths and tell them to stop ruining fun for little kids. :biggrin:
 
  • #3
Silly. Should have offered them blankets. ;-p
 
  • #4
Danger
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I can see the point. After all, the holiday pushes Christianity.
And (particularly since W is an Indian) I'm not too fond of the way that they were treated.
 
  • #5
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I can see the point. After all, the holiday pushes Christianity.
Does it? I don't think of Thanksgiving as a Christian holiday, but a national one. I figure you can thank whomever you want on Thanksgiving - God, Mohammad, FSM, your lucky stars. Or maybe you can just thank yourself for all the good things in your life and dive into the turkey and dressing.

And (particularly since W is an Indian) I'm not too fond of the way that they were treated.
Me neither. (and I have some Creek and Cherokee heritage). But I still don't find the school's tradition offensive. They're just little kids. Aren't there some details we can spare them for a few grades?
 
  • #6
Danger
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Aren't there some details we can spare them for a few grades?
That's how stereotypes are perpetuated. If you teach them proper human values when they're young, there might be some hope.
They should know during their formative years that the land they live in was violently stolen from the original inhabitants. That might give them pause to consider treating others with respect and decency.
 
  • #7
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it's stuff like this that generates demand for school vouchers.
 
  • #8
Danger
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I don't know whether this is a cultural difference or a generational one, but... what the hey is a school voucher? :confused:
 
  • #9
I must agree with MIH, as an atheist Thanksgiving does not appear to me to be at all a religious or Christianity-referencing holiday.
That's how stereotypes are perpetuated.
But exactly what stereotypes are being perpetuated here? That Native Americans were peaceful people who sought fraternity with European settlers? If what you want is for little kids to be all shocked and horrified by what happened later on it seems like this would be the best impression to start them off with.
If you teach them proper human values when they're young, there might be some hope.
But again, what about the celebration of Thanksgiving does not teach proper human values?
They should know during their formative years that the land they live in was violently stolen from the original inhabitants. That might give them pause to consider treating others with respect and decency.
But what if we also taught them that in many cases, such as the possession of the Great Plains by the Sioux, the land was violently stolen from people who themselves had violently stolen it just a few generations earlier? Or about how the Native Americans of New England with whom the British colonists were allied on several occasions called them in for help in annihilating their native rivals in the area?

I live in and grew up in New England in a school system where the attitude was what you are suggesting, to inculcate some sort of guilt and negativity about early European history in the Americas as early as possible in children. I'm just saying that it may not have the effect you're expecting; to make that the conventional wisdom sets it up as the norm to rebel against in later years, rather than the other way around.
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  • #10
Danger
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I must agree with MIH, as an atheist Thanksgiving does not appear to me to be at all a religious or Christianity-referencing holiday.
Hmm... lessee now... Puritans... same people who burned people that they didn't like at the stake upon the pretense that they were witches or other heretics. Do the name Cotton Mather ring a bell?

exactly what stereotypes are being perpetuated here? That Native Americans were peaceful people who sought fraternity with European settlers?
No, that they were ignorant heathens who were so gullible as to get suckered by seemingly friendly visitors. How often do you hear the bragging about Manhattan being sold for a handful of beads by the local idiots?

again, what about the celebration of Thanksgiving does not teach proper human values?
The part that says that cranberries are edible. :yuck:

what if we also taught them that in many cases, such as the possession of the Great Plains by the Sioux, the land was violently stolen from people who themselves had violently stolen it just a few generations earlier? Or about how the Native Americans of New England with whom the British colonists were allied on several occasions called them in for help in annihilating their native rivals in the area?
Yes, the natives were territorial and warmongering among themselves. That still left an entire continent for a few hundred thousand or maybe a couple of million people. And where are they now?
live in and grew up in New England in a school system where the attitude was what you are suggesting, to inculcate some sort of guilt and negativity about early European history in the Americas as early as possible in children. I'm just saying that it may not have the effect you're expecting; to make that the conventional wisdom sets it up as the norm to rebel against in later years, rather than the other way around.
I submit that it might be the teaching method at fault. There are lots of different ways to present the same information. I'm not saying that as a truth, merely as a possibility.
 
  • #11
Hmm... lessee now... Puritans... same people who burned people that they didn't like at the stake upon the pretense that they were witches or other heretics. Do the name Cotton Mather ring a bell?
What, because some of the people involved happened to be Christian? What do Cotton Mather or the Salem witch trials have to do with Thanksgiving? You might as well say that it's a holiday that promotes Native American religion because some of the people involved in inaugurating the tradition were Native Americans.

No, that they were ignorant heathens who were so gullible as to get suckered by seemingly friendly visitors. How often do you hear the bragging about Manhattan being sold for a handful of beads by the local idiots?
What the heck does that have to do with Thanksgiving? Why would celebrating Thanksgiving make anyone think about Manhattan being sold, much less inculcate some stereotype about Native Americans being idiots? This is really quite a stretch if it's all you've got to support your assertion that Thanksgiving introduces stereotypes of Native Americans.

Yes, the natives were territorial and warmongering among themselves. That still left an entire continent for a few hundred thousand or maybe a couple of million people. And where are they now?
Again, nothing to do with Thanksgiving. This is simply an agenda for inculcating children with a particular viewpoint about early European colonial history (right or wrong) not any sort of commentary about Thanksgiving. (But actually, if the intent is to teach about all of the bad things that colonists did and none of the bad things Native Americans ever did, portraying the pre-contact Americans as some sort of peaceful wonderland where history was radically different from the subsequent colonization, that's a pretty biased view to teach.)
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  • #12
Danger
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What, because some of the people involved happened to be Christian? What do Cotton Mather or the Salem witch trials have to do with Thanksgiving?
Same culture. The Puritans were so religiously fanatical that they were driven out of England. How long a hike was it from Plymouth Rock to Salem? They didn't even have time to get a new wardrobe.

What the heck does that have to do with Thanksgiving? Why would celebrating Thanksgiving make anyone think about Manhattan being sold, much less inculcate some stereotype about Native Americans being idiots?
Maybe it's another cultural difference. I've never seen anything about a US Thanksgiving celebration that didn't reference that. It always goes from a simple exchange of trinkets to 'Oh look, we just got an island for some beads'. It's rarely mentioned that the next step was 'Maybe we should give them some smallpox-laden blankets in return for bison-hunting rights'.
 
  • #13
Same culture. The Puritans were so religiously fanatical that they were driven out of England. How long a hike was it from Plymouth Rock to Salem? They didn't even have time to get a new wardrobe.
Still nothing to do with Thanksgiving and not an explanation of how Thanksgiving would be promoting Christianity any more than it would be promoting some Native American religion.
Maybe it's another cultural difference. I've never seen anything about a US Thanksgiving celebration that didn't reference that. It always goes from a simple exchange of trinkets to 'Oh look, we just got an island for some beads'. It's rarely mentioned that the next step was 'Maybe we should give them some smallpox-laden blankets in return for bison-hunting rights'.
I think that this is more of a reality difference than a cultural difference. If you Google "Thanksgiving" I would be surprised if more than one in ten thousand hits mentioned the purchase of Manhattan by Dutch colonists - completely the opposite of your purported experience that the two things are never separate. I think that experience may be heavily colored by preconceived notions that you have, indeed perhaps manifested out of thin air. (Though I could understand it if it wasn't an entirely conscious thing on your part.)

And the smallpox blankets thing during the Western wars of the late 1800's was not the next step after Dutch purchase of Manhattan in 1626. That's why it's never mentioned as the next step, because it isn't.

And even if it was somehow the next step in history the smallpox blankets anecdote from the wars of the late 1800's would still have nothing to do with Thanksgiving. This is a completely politicized approach to history that you are taking in an effort to find some basis to criticize the celebration of a holiday.
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  • #14
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I don't know whether this is a cultural difference or a generational one, but... what the hey is a school voucher? :confused:
it's a proposal that parents who do not want their children taught in the public schools should be given a refund of the money (or a portion of it) that would have been spent on their child, so that they may apply that money to tuition at a private school of their choice.
 
  • #15
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Teaching children is one of those things that must be handled delicately. Teaching children at a young age to be guilty of what there forefathers did (and how many kids in California are descendants of the Pilgrims?) is, IMNHO, wrong-headed, naive, and invalid.

It is wrong-headed because teaching guilt from an early ago will result in a generation who are expert at naval gazing and playing the generation blame game. Our education system must instill knowledge, creativity and responsibility. We are handing our children a mess. No biggie here: Every generation hands their children a mess. Solving the current mess will require a positive outlook, creativity, and responsibility. In short, our better features.

It is naive because children do not think like adults. Expecting children to be able to comprehend refined nuances is mistaken. The proper thing to do is to teach fairly simplistic concepts at a young age. These simplistic concepts are, deep down, incorrect. So what? They can be refined as the students age and gain mental capacity. This is exactly how science is taught.

It is invalid because we are judging the actions of our forefathers against today's moral and ethical guidelines. We live in a different time. Life a few hundred years ago was brutal, and a few thousand years ago it was downright nasty by our standards.

How many descendants of the builders of Stonehenge live today? The answer is, it depends on how you look at things. If you look at mitochondrial DNA, there are quite a few descendants. 20% of English matrilineal lines are 10,000 years old or older and 80% are 4,000 years old or older. If you look at the Y chromosome you get a completely different picture. Y chromosome lines in England descend almost entirely from Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons killed Briton men and raped Briton women. Briton men killed Beaker men and raped Beaker women. We don't and shouldn't teach that to young children.
 
  • #16
Moonbear
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Hmm... lessee now... Puritans... same people who burned people that they didn't like at the stake upon the pretense that they were witches or other heretics. Do the name Cotton Mather ring a bell?
That has nothing to do with the celebration of the holiday.

No, that they were ignorant heathens who were so gullible as to get suckered by seemingly friendly visitors. How often do you hear the bragging about Manhattan being sold for a handful of beads by the local idiots?
Again, this is NOTHING to do with what Thanksgiving is about. It's about the generosity of the Native Americans in teaching the pilgrims to survive in their new land. It's about two completely different cultures coming together to share a harvest feast. If anything, it casts the Native Americans in the most favorable of lights, and the Pilgrims as the clueless idiots landing in a new land with no idea how to fend for themselves. That they later stabbed those who came to their aid in the back has nothing to do with what Thanksgiving itself is about.

Yes, the natives were territorial and warmongering among themselves. That still left an entire continent for a few hundred thousand or maybe a couple of million people. And where are they now?
And this is hardly something new in history, one people conquering another, replacing old cultures with new. People like to pick and choose the villain of the day, but if one really looks at history, you see that this is more human nature. Everyone tries to expand their territory. Some win, some lose.

I submit that it might be the teaching method at fault. There are lots of different ways to present the same information. I'm not saying that as a truth, merely as a possibility.
And is letting little kids make feathers out of construction paper really going to hurt their ability to learn the more serious and destructive bits of history later? We shouldn't dump all the weight of bad adult choices onto the shoulders of little kids.
 
  • #17
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Thanksgiving is about sending turkeys to Disneyland.

In more recent years, two turkeys have been pardoned, in case the original turkey becomes unavailable for presidential pardoning. Since 2003 the public has been invited to vote for the two turkeys' names. They were named Stars and Stripes in 2003 and 2004's turkeys were called Biscuit and Gravy. In 2005 the public decided on Marshmallow and Yam, in 2006 on Flyer and Fryer, in 2007 on May and Flower and in 2008 on Pumpkin and Pecan.[9][12] Since 2005, the two turkeys have been flown first class on United Airlines from Washington, D.C. to the Los Angeles area where they become the Grand Marshals of Disneyland's annual Thanksgiving Day parade down Main Street. The two turkeys then live out the rest of their relatively short lives in Disneyland's Frontierland ranch.[13]
Seriously, the modern celebration of Thanksgiving is about a big dinner with friends and family. There is a nice story tied to it about how a group of nice Indians saved a group of settlers that had no survival skills.
 
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  • #18
Moonbear
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I had no idea the pardoned turkeys went to Disneyland! I knew they went to a ranch somewhere, but didn't know exactly where.
 
  • #19
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I had no idea the pardoned turkeys went to Disneyland! I knew they went to a ranch somewhere, but didn't know exactly where.
I'll bet Zz knew!

I should ask that in the "Ask ZapperZ" thread.
 

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