Freedom Over Fascism
Freedom Over Fascism
(Correction) Stephanie's take on Thanksgiving and how it relates to the question of who is American. Professor Ben Railton on honest history.

(Correction) Stephanie's take on Thanksgiving and how it relates to the question of who is American. Professor Ben Railton on honest history.

Hi friends,

Happy Thanksgiving. During the course of this show, we’ve talked about the importance of teaching and learning honest history. All over the country, MAGA politicians and social groups have been working to change social studies curriculum, primarily around the history of enslavement and race relations in the United States. What’s at stake is the question of who can be considered a “real” American. As I discuss with Professor Ben Railton during today’s episode (which we initially published last month), White Christian Nationalists try to change the way we teach history and literature to reinforce the hierarchies in which White Christian men hold the dominant positions. They do this so that these hierarchies seem appropriate in the present as well. White Christian Nationalists try to remove marginalized groups' members’ agency to challenge the dominance of Straight White Christian Men. They want to deprive BIPOC, non-Christian and LGBTQ+ kids of the ability to see themselves in literature and in honest history as part of the effort to squelch kids’ imagination and curiosity, as well as their ability to see different perspectives than their own in history and literature.

wild turkeys
Benjamin Franklin suggested the Turkey for our national bird.

The way we talk and learn about Thanksgiving is part of this conversation. The myth of the “Pilgrims”… English religious zealots who landed in what is Massachusetts in 1620, and got along fabulously with the native people they found, is one of the foundational myths of the United States. And by now, most of us know that the story is inaccurate, and exists to justify British colonization of North America. It also serves as part of the narrative defining who has the right to call themself a “real American.”

In the narrative where the puritans disembarked into the waiting arms of the indigenous folks, the White Christian settlers emerge as more capable than they actually were, and less violent than they became. We don’t learn how precarious their survival was, which helps cement the narrative that placed White Christians at the top of the hierarchy and emphasized the role of Native Americans as helpful guides who were ultimately expendable. Most school history books teach that the Native people handed off America to white people so they could create a great nation dedicated to liberty, opportunity, and Christianity for the rest of the world to profit.

Completely missing from this narrative is that the Puritans’ first interactions with the Wampanoag was when the Puritans stole the Wampanoag’s winter provision, as well as the European genocide of native peoples over the following couple of centuries. Since the first European colonization of the Americas, 95% of the indigenous population across North America were killed, and pushed out of their ancestral lands.

During Thanksgiving, we barely think about all of the history underpinning the holiday as we hurry to gather with family or friends for a traditional ritual in which we stuff ourselves silly with a “traditional” meal, and possibly watch football at the same time. This year, as MAGA Republicans continue to take away our freedoms one by one and attempt to define who is American, we can see how they’re trying to our future as they redefine our past.

I talked to Professor Ben Railton last month about social studies curriculum and its importance in defining who we are and where we’re going. As we take a pause for the holiday, I hope we can all think about how we’re going to fight for freedom for all Americans over the coming year.

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Freedom Over Fascism
Freedom Over Fascism
Freedom Over Fascism hosted by historian, comms consultant, and activist Stephanie Wilson, investigates what it takes to rebuild power and freedom for people in MAGA captured states. MAGA is waging a full-out war against Americans to gain authoritarian power, and we must reclaim our freedom and our power.
We talk to authors, experts, activists, historians, and officials who sound the alarm and work to build freedom over fascism. Together we’ll discover what it takes to win in parts of America dominated by MAGA extremists.