Thoughts on Thanksgiving…From 227 Years Ago

Two-hundred and twenty-seven years ago, on October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating the 26th of November as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. While Thanksgiving itself was actually established by Abraham Lincoln and then passed into law by Congress in 1941, it was Washington who created the foundation and set the tone for what Thanksgiving was to be.

This is what Washington wrote:

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington
This is a far cry from the proclamations of future presidents, especially those of Barack Obama, who has tended to spout historical inaccuracies about the history of Thanksgiving and encourage us to have discussions about health care on this day or, this year, discussions about gun control. It’s obvious that the original purposes of Thanksgiving have been lost to most of us, so let me take a minute to break down the major points of Washington’s original proclamation:

1) It’s the duty of all of us to acknowledge God’s power and position, to obey Him, show gratitude for what he has given us and pray for his protection and favor.

2) Thanksgiving was to be devoted to the service of God so that all Americans could be united in that service, gratitude and time of prayer.

3) We were to ask forgiveness for sins committed against God, both as a nation and as individuals.

4) Our government was supposed to be a blessing to the people by being built upon “wise, just, and constitutional laws”. (I doubt Washington would even recognize out country today, based on what he had envisioned.)

5) We were to pray for the other nations and leaders around the world to be blessed.

6) We were to pray for knowledge in the practice of religion, in being virtuous and in increasing our scientific knowledge, as well. These were aspects of life that were never meant to be at odds with each other, as they have become in many cases.

7) Our successes and prosperity ultimately come from the hand of God and we are to pray for, and be thankful for, such prosperity.

One final point: This is the sort of writing from a sitting president that has those today who desperately want to redefine Freedom of Religion as freedom FROM religion pulling out their hair in frustration. Like it or not, America was founded and built upon a strong belief and dependency in a very Judeo-Christian concept of God. But look at the other writings and prayers of George Washington in comparison. In spite of this insane effort to label Washington as a deist by taking a few statements severely out of context, it’s very clear in his writings that he was a devote Christian who, not only prayed to God, but who also constantly invoked the name and authority of Jesus. That level of specifics is missing from this proclamation for a very clear reason. This is the freedom of religion that is spelled out in our Bill of Rights. The concept of us living under the grace and authority of God was meant to be accepted as true by all of us, no matter what our sectarian concept of God was. Even atheists were meant to accept the concept of us being created equal and that our rights came from some constant and immutable source and definitely not from a document or lawmakers or government. Even without a belief in God, it was expected that we would all understand that there were aspects of our existence that didn’t exist solely at the whim of people in charge. They exist because of a higher authority and a creative force that precedes any man made law or institution.

So, with all that said, let me conclude by saying Happy Thanksgiving. No matter what your beliefs are, may God bless and protect you and yours today and throughout the coming year.

Now, what are you doing sit here reading my ramblings on Thanksgiving of all days?! Go spend time with those who you value in your life and let them know that you value them. And take a few minutes to reflect on all that you have to be truly thankful for. I suspect that it’s a lot more than you normally realize. It always is for me.

Thoughts On The Movie, Selma

Martin-Luther-King-JrThis weekend, I watched the new movie, Selma. Oprah Winfrey, a notoriously close-minded liberal with a willingness to throw the race card almost as much as the likes of Al Sharpton, was heavily involved in making this movie, so I was a little concerned about what I was going to see.
Surprisingly though, Selma is much more accurate than I ever expected. The historical inaccuracies are relatively minor and most are easily overlooked. I was disappointed that there was no mention of A.D. King, Dr. King’s younger brother (and father of Dr. Alveda King), who was also present in Selma. I was a little disappointed, but not terribly surprised. After all, I’d be willing to bet good money that there wasn’t a single conservative involved in the creation of this movie. Just the subject matter alone is enough to raise some very uncomfortable issues for Democrats when dealing with racial issues in America in a factual way. After all. It’s pretty hard to avoid the fact that the racist politicians and lawmen who obstructed, intimidated, brutalized and even murdered those who were demanding the liberties we are all endowed with, were all, without a single exception, Democrats: Bull Conner, Wilson Baker, George Wallace and even J. Edgar Hoover. Including the father of one of today’s influential and passionate black women, a Christian minister, pro-life activist and, yes, conservative Republican, probably hit a little too close to home for them. There were only actually two things about this movie I wanted to address.

LYNDON JOHNSON AS A RACIST
Speaking of shortcomings in our education system, one of the first things I heard about Selma that piqued my interest, was from some very offended liberals. Beside the fact that liberals have a default setting of being offended most of the time, this caught my attention because they were upset at how ‘historically inaccurate’ the movie is because it portrays President Lyndon Johnson as a…gasp…racist! To be clear, Johnson was absolutely a racist. Yes, he did support and sign the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (the bill he referred to as “the n*gg*r bill”), but only after dragging his feet and opposing it. In 1948, then Senator Johnson said, regarding the civil rights efforts during the Truman administration that it, “is a farce and a sham–an effort to set up a police state in the guise of liberty. I am opposed to that program. I have voted against the so-called poll tax repeal bill … I have voted against the so-called anti-lynching bill.” I assume that, for a man like Johnson, it was very important to protect the practices of poll taxes and lynchings. He fought against Eisenhower’s 1957 civil rights bill, ultimately using his position and power in the Senate to gut the bill of all its enforcement powers. He also fought against the 1960 Civil Rights Act. Johnson kept company with many like-minded racists in the Democrat Party but, unlike most of them, he came to understand the potential political power of a voting black populace and decided to attempt to rewrite his own history to make it look like he was the type of man who embraced what he’d actually been fighting against his whole life. A line from the PBS special, LBJ, says, “But the real measure of a leader is what he gets done, the size of the problems he faces. Before Lyndon Johnson, we were essentially a segregated society.” The thing is, if Johnson had his way, we would still be segregated today. It’s true that you measure a leader by what he gets done, but make no mistake. Johnson was not the leader to ‘get done’ anything to further the cause of Civil Rights in America; he was simply dragged along against his will in the wake of the real leaders of the time; people like Martin Luther King, Jr., A.D. King, John Lewis, Hosea Williams, James Orange, Roy Innis, A. Phillip Randolph, and Bayard Rustin, among so many others. These were the people who effected positive change in spite of the opposition of men like Lyndon Johnson. It’s sad that so many have since been conned into mistaking Johnson’s political expediency for any sort of change of heart or, even worse, have just blindly bought into the narrative of the man as some kind of Civil Rights hero because the media and other voices on the left say it’s so.

ATTEMPTS AT POLITICAL REPOSITIONING
The second thing that struck me came straight from the movie itself. While I wasn’t particularly surprised, it was disturbing to hear the words ‘progressive’ (used once) and ‘liberal’ (used twice) to describe the people who were inclined to support the Civil Rights Movement and the efforts of Dr. King. While it is true that the progressive movement wasn’t terribly advanced or high profile yet and the term ‘liberal’ was only beginning to be taken and twisted by the left, it’s clear what the subtle message that the movie makers are trying to get across is: that it was those evil Republicans who wanted to keep the black man down and the ones who could be rallied to stand against that racism were the Democrats. Of course, they had to make this message subtle for the simple reason that it’s an outright lie. Every single name mentioned in Selma as an enemy of equality was a devoted Democrat. It was the religious leaders that Dr. King called on for support, the majority of whom, at least those who were affiliated, were Republicans and definitely conservative, much like Dr. King himself. It was Republicans, both black and white, who were standing beside these activists across the nation, often losing their lives in the process, too. It was the NRA that was created specifically in order to arm and train black Americans so that they had a chance of defending themselves against those who immersed themselves in racial hatred, especially in the form of the Democrat sponsored, funded and manned Ku Klux Klan.
And, yes, I’m already hearing this nonsense starting to resurface about how there was this great party switch and the Republicans of then are now the Democrats of today. That’s always been a lie and always will be. To this day, the only example anyone can point to of a Democrat of that time becoming a Republican is Strom Thurmond. The thing is, Thurmond had a major change of heart and deed and turned his back on his racist practices and words. Of course he had to leave the Democrat Party. To do otherwise would’ve been like someone turning vegan but staying a member of the steak of the month club. (I assume something like that exists because, if it doesn’t, then it really, really should!) Here’s just a handful of Democrats (this article would be HUGE if I put all of them in) who were opposed to civil rights and equality for blacks who never made a single move to leave the Democrat Party: Orval Fabus, Bull Conner, Benjamin Travis Laney, John Stennis, James Eastland, Allen Ellender, Russell Long, John Sparkman, John McClellan, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge, George Wallace, Lester Maddox, John Rarick, Robert Byrd (Bill Clinton’s good friend) and Al Gore, Sr. (his son invented the Internet).
The truth is, the place where those who wallow in racism or victimization or a desire to imprison people, be it in chains of iron or the more deceptive chains of entitlement and dependency, feel the most comfortable is the Democrat Party. That has never changed from Day One. The only things that have changed are the words they subvert to describe themselves and the increasing sophistication of the shell game they play to fool so many people.

BACK TO THE MOVIE
Believe it or not, in spite of the time I took addressing these two factors, they’re actually pretty minimal problems in regard to this movie. Selma is a movie I’d really encourage people to see. I really like the way it portrays Martin Luther King Jr.; as a man who is, like the rest of us, flawed and at times unsure, but who follows his conscience and commits himself to promoting what is right and standing against what is wrong. He sets a standard in those ways that is worthy of emulation and it is an example that so many members of the modern Republican Party would do well to take to heart before we completely lose our way. I found myself crying at the sight of people’s capacity for cruelty towards others and my heart swelled with pride at those who answered the call to oppose such overwhelming hatred and violence. While I’m used to the sort of biased tripe that Oprah Winfrey and other Hollywood liberals put out, like that train wreck of a movie (but not the book), The Butler, I do have to give credit where credit is due. Other than a couple of minor attempts to alter the political reality of our history, this movie is very well done and worth the time to watch.
Next time, I’ll be talking about how the new Dumb and Dumber movie is a direct parallel to the Democrat National Convention. Well, probably not, but you never know!