Tom Gilson

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Celebration Provokes Protests, Hate Mail; Police Called

Not filed under “parodies:”

Protesters descended Tuesday on Condit Elementary School in Claremont, tersely arguing over the construction-paper pilgrim and Native American costumes worn by kindergartners at a decades-old Thanksgiving tradition. Police were called to the school when tensions rose.

Officers also were monitoring Claremont Unified Supt. David Cash’s home after he received hate mail and told police that he feared for his safety.

[Link: Police called over Thanksgiving dispute at Claremont school – Los Angeles Times]

The school had canceled a decades-old tradition of having children dress up as Thanksgiving Pilgrims and Indians (as they likely were called in the 1620s). It looks from this distance, based on the report, as if the school had bowed to severe pressure over PC charges of stereotyping. Traditionalists were unhappy. The stage was set for conflict. It’s unclear who sent the hate mail. (Whoever did it, whether PC-er or traditionalist, deserves whatever the law can throw at him or her.) This portion is clearer:

Nearly two dozen protesters stationed themselves in front of the school, evenly split between costume supporters and opponents. The supporters set up a table with refreshments in front of the school sign, and several wore construction-paper headdresses. Foes stood about 40 feet away, carrying signs that said, “Don’t Celebrate Genocide.”

Hold on a moment, friends. Whatever you think of the way European-Americans have treated Native Americans in the intervening years, the first Thanksgiving was not about genocide. A much stronger case could be made (if one wanted to make it) that it was about multi-culturalism and tolerance! Why not celebrate two races, two cultures, two language groups who really did wear different kinds of clothing–who really did get along with each other, and who really did celebrate together?!

And kindergartners being the focus of a disturbance like this? How testy are we getting with each other, anyway? What are we telling these children about the kind of world they live in?

I weep for our next generation.

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6 thoughts on “Kindergarten Thanksgiving Celebration Provokes Protests, Hate Mail; Police Called

  1. Sigh …

    For one thing, this shows that a lot of “grown-ups” need to grow up a bit.

    It’s also, as you note, pretty misguided. The early days of Plymouth Rock represent one of the bright spots in colonist-native relations. That really is worth celebrating.

    Moreover … it’s kindergarten! Can’t we let kids be kids for a couple of years before we start teaching them about genocide?

  2. Chapter 2 of “1491” by Charles C. Mann is most illuminating. The “first thanksgiving” itself seems to have had a bit of history, not entirely innocuous.

  3. Bellevue Community College hosted its sixth-annual American Indian Film Festival (AIFF) Nov. 5-7, featuring the works of 20 Indigenous directors. The event is equal parts art, empathy, and inspiration as it features movies that range in

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