Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanks for Giving

Bizarro is brought to you today by Super-Sized Heroes.
If you're reading this blog, you've made it through another American Thanksgiving. Since many of my readers are outside of the U.S., however, I thought I'd explain what yesterday was all about.

We call the holiday "Thanksgiving" because it is based on a myth about early European settlers in America wherein the punch line is that they "give thanks." The story goes that a boatload of religious freaks who were run out of their homeland for pestering people with their intense self-loathing and superstitious nonsense, landed on this continent and built some cabins or whatever. The local inhabitants were all like, "Whatever, it's cool, there's plenty of space and resources for everyone. Just don't be douches about it."

When winter came, they all nearly froze and starved and the local natives felt sorry for them and helped them out. Then, when spring came, they decided to celebrate their survival with a modest meal with their kind benefactors, but it took them all the way until the next autumn to get around to doing it for some reason.

But then later the religious freaks did, in fact, become douches, as religious freaks almost always most certainly will, and they killed off almost all of the natives on the continent so they could steal their land and get rich and celebrate their "good fortune" each and every year for centuries to come. And what better way to celebrate such a humble story of survival and compassion than with a gut-gorging, bacchanalian orgy of fat- and cholesterol-injecting, artery-clogging, cardiac-inducing, gluttony? Millions of innocent birds are genetically modified, incarcerated, and brutally butchered to celebrate a handful of oatmeal salesman's good fortune 400 years ago. Sure. Of course.

For my foreign readers, the typical American Thanksgiving Day goes something like this:
Kids awaken and watch a parade on TV with gigantic balloon characters (representing products you can buy) floating above an alarmingly overweight crowd of Americans. Females are in the kitchen preparing far more food than their family and guests can possibly eat safely, males are watching football on TV. Food is served, large table full of already overweight people eat enough food to embarrass Henry VIII, family members argue, men nap, women clean and wrap leftovers, America increases its lead as fattest nation in the world.

You would think this would be scheduled for a Friday, to give people two days to heave, medicate, and sober up before having to go back to work, but instead, it is on a Thursday, forcing many uncomfortably flatulent and hungover Americans to suffer through another day of work before the weekend. Historians believe this is a remnant of the "self-loathing" part of the original oatmeal salesmen who started all of this.

Those who do not have to work on Friday, go to stores to make the gluttony and conspicuous consumption of Thanksgiving look like child's play compared to the supernatural uber-consumerism that will take place for the next solid month in honor of the birth of a Jewish magician two millennia ago.

I hope you found this brief historical account both entertaining and enlightening. Please direct your complaints to the comments section below. Happy holidays. : )




28 comments:

pixie said...

Thanks for that detailed and (unfortunately) accurate description of what just happened yesterday. I still feel full by osmosis, knowing neighbors and relatives ate enough food for an entire village. I'd also like to point out that in fact BILLIONS of flightless birds (not penguins, but turkeys) lost their lives for the privileged "holiday" of Thanksgiving. I only wish each individual partaking in the eating of those birds had the courage to kill them themselves. A lot more people would've had a vegetarian meal if they'd been responsible for the taking of an innocent life themselves. It's a bit of a tradition for some folks to cut their own Christmas tree or pick their own Halloween pumpkin, so why not kill your own bird too?

Timothy said...

Love the comics. Hate your commentary. Thanksgiving is not just about being glad that things are going well; it was set aside as a day to thank God for the blessings on this nation. Atheism might make some sense to you, and you've got the right to believe as you wish, but it's unscientific. The only reason any scientists hold to evolution is that they start with atheism, and that's all their left with.

Mike said...

Perfect, just perfect!

Sam said...

No complaints - you couldn't have summed it up more succinctly. When the Constitutional Literalists (or "Far Right") claim that America was founded on basic, workable principles 400 years ago that shouldn't change in the face of the ever-changing modern era, what they leave out is the fact that the people who came to America were essentially England's religious rejects - it wasn't about religious freedom, it was about the fact that the Puritans were tired of being the butt and wanted to be the head. It amazes me that Puritanism (or "American Fundamentalism") is based on the concept that God hates everyone and it's just a matter of time before we end up in hell, so we may as well make the most out it ... by proving that we're already miserable so why send us to hell, dear lord?

Anyhow, good post!

Jodie said...

I agree, bad Puritans, good Indians. Bad Europeans (ancient historywise). Good native Americans! Our country was founded on the backs of the poor and enslaved. Without indentured servant (poor Europeans hoping to escape the old world) and slave (Africans taken from their world), we probably wouldn't have the country we have today. It would be more like Europe. Maybe we would have nation health care and democracy too. Something to think about... I live in the part of the US that was colonized by Spain (Tejas) but given up in a war or something. Mexico kept it's poor native Americans around so that they could be enslaved (virtually) to be the peasants on the land owned by the rich. So Tejas would probably still be Mexican or Spanish territory. More to think about.

behrmark said...

Despite the gluttony, the uber-consumerism, and many social/economic/political problems, it's still the most free of all nations. Just sayin'.

Zaheen said...

Dear Dan,

I'm a fan. I'm also an overweight, meat-eating propogater of consumerism. Only, I'm not American, I'm Indian and a Muslim (we get an additional bonus of 600 years of religious history to ruin our lives in addition to the lies given to our Jew and Christian counterparts).
Today we celebrated, Eid-ul-adha (the day when prophet Abraham sacrifices a goat instead of his son.) and slaughtered thousands of goats all over the world as a ritual. Most of the meat is given away, but yet quite a lot is used at home to prepare elaborate meals akin to Thanksgiving dinners.

I've only recently begun regretting being non-vegetarian on learning that it has worse effects than cruelty to non-human animals and health issues.

I began reading Bizarro in a daily tabloid in Mumbai, India - Mumbai Mirror. Then I progressed to reading your blogs. Which is where my contemplation about veganism is moulding into a decision.

I absolutely love meat. But I love the planet and myself more. This is going to a very difficult decision for me, with lot of family resistance, but I hope to turn vegan as soon as possible.

So my sole purpose to write this is to say, 'Thanks, you give me the strength turn vegan and make my decisiom firmer.'

I love your cartoons. :-)

-Zaheen Bagasrawala.

FSM_Ed said...

Bravo!

Steve Williams said...

Funny, I've never been been to one like that. Gee, I thought it was just a gathering of family and friends coming together for some conversation and camaraderie. What an ambassador you are to your readers outside of the U.S.!

Tati said...

Wow! You spoke so badly about americans and Thanksgiving Day, that I'm proud of being brazilian... o_O

Well, I love your texts and cartoons! Keep the good work! XD

Hugs,
Tati

Timothy said...

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving 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 favorable interpositions of His providence in
the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of
tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the
peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable 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 transgressions; 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 3d day of October, A.D.
1789.

Stephanie said...

No complaints, but I have to point out that the Oatmeal dude's supposed to be a Quaker, not a puritan, and Quakers are pretty legit. Just sayin'.

Neil J Murphy said...

The Pilgrims weren't Quakers, you know.

Yet Another Steve said...

Oh! You terrible curmudgeon! You echo my sentiments exactly, yet make me laugh! (Okay, there, you are Praised with Faint Damns. And loud Huzzahs. So there.)

Ak4umachine said...

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Paul Healey said...

Hold on a minute Dan! While your description of what happened is basically accurate, you are confusing the Puritans with the Quakers.

It was the Puritans who were the religious douches you describe, and who held the first Thanksgiving and set the stage for all the horrible carnage that followed. Sadly, they included a couple of my ancestors.

The Oatmeal salesmen you mention, and picture, were Quakers. They started arriving about 50 years later, and after being viciously discriminated against, outlawed, and even murdered by those Puritan scumbags, finally went off to found Pennsylvania. The Quakers, while not perfect, were from the beginning pacifists, pro-Native American, and anti-slavery. Mostly, though religious, they were not douches.

Ins spite of my Puritan ancestry I am 100% Quaker, and a bit sensitive about the differences between the two. Go ahead and check my facts, but please clarify.

Jim Nadolny said...

Dan! You nailed it!

Bad Wolf said...

Actually, Quakers (Friends) tend to be the lighter side of Purityrannical religiousness.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Society_of_Friends

There have been some very good works done by Friends. I think Pilgrims may be more to the idea you're trying to advance. Funny that the word verification would be "inguns" for this comment. Well, maybe not all that funny.

This year though was good for this American. All vegan,, organic, gourmet, mostly seasonal and local raw dinner with 34 others. Masses of yummy food and no weight gain or cruelty (to animal or human).

Most good, least harm. We all do what we can. Keep writing and drawing. I'm grateful for your art. :)

Waldo said...

Hey... as a direct descendant of "...a boatload of religious freaks." I have to say... I agree.

But the true irony is that since my wife is 3/8 Native American, our kids (which are now 3/16th) are directly responsible for their own demise. I am sure my daughter will bring that up at her local DAR Columbus Day get together.

Penny said...

Wow.

I love you, but day-um. I really enjoy the holidays and I'm going to have fun even though I just read this blog entry.

"We cannot cure the world of sorrow, but we can choose to live in joy." -Joseph Campbell

Call me Pollyanna, but covering myself in ashes and sackcloth isn't going to fix anything.

Penny said...

And P.S. I'm part Native American. I can't undo the past by being pissed and bitter about it. What I can and do do is send a few bucks when I can afford to places like this:

http://www.naha-inc.org/

doug nicodemus said...

i believe that adam sandler had the definitive say about thanksgiving...sorry dan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PFERpWahZE

Anonymous said...

my thanksgivings arent like that. I just hang out with my family. We have big parties with people I rarely get to see, whom I love very much, we play music, and yes - we eat and drink more than usual - it's a party.

Football? Rarely if at all. Shopping? Well, milk for the babies, and some wine perhaps. Working on Friday? Hell no.

It's good to acknowledge historical oppression and it's absolutely essential to combat it in its present forms, which are many. But thanksgiving is the day my family (which is mainly secular) and friends have always gathered to celebrate life, love, friendship, the passing of time, etc.

I think your piece is stereotyping a bit.

fair-light said...

Check your sexism.

I'm a gay man, and I cooked almost the entirety of my grandmother's dinner for three generations of our extended family. My sister watched football, one of my brothers was helping me, and nobody in my family is fat (probably because we're not poor and can afford not to eat high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated palm kernel oil all the time)--Americans aren't lazy, they're overworked, too tired to exercise and eat shitty food which is the fault of collusion between dominant political factions and the food industry, which is no smarter about plant-based food than animal-based food. We had a blast, and I don't regret it. You're not half so funny as you think you are. Nearly all holidays commemorate things that were only good for a few select individuals, except for Veterans Day and Mother's Day. Shall we all wear sackcloth and ashes until the revolution comes? I think not.

I've killed my own turkey and I'd do it again. I didn't do it this time because there were a lot of people involved, but I am so amused that you think having to kill animals for meat would make people vegetarian when in the past almost no one was vegetarian and almost everyone had to butcher their own meat. The truth is, 90% of vegan proselytisers are completely divorced from the realities of living among and with animals and this just goes to show that most of you are coming to this issue from the "I don't want to eat Thumper and Bambi!" place.

xyling said...

Does it help that we used every part of our genetically modified bird? I even used the bones to fashion small weapons to kill the unbelievers.

janb said...

That was indeed enlightening for someone non-American. Thanks giving is I guess one of the few things we Europeans still haven't adopted and given it's tradition we really shouldn't, as it doesn't have anything to do with us. And given your description I really really hope we don't.

Halloween and your ├╝ber fetisch for Christmas is more than enough.

Anyway, keep being a voice of reason (veganism, anti-consumerism etc) in mainstream media! And where are all the climate jokes?

Thanks!

Jan said...

behrmark:

Say what? Uber-consumerism isn't free in any way. It forces you to consume your way into social status. You communicate who you are, what you think, what you do through consumerism. Even not caring about looks or status is communicated through your consumption. Even your body communicates what you consume. That's not free.

Social, political and economic problems don't make you free either. There are countries with less of all of those, I come from one. I wouldn't necesairilly say I'm freer for it, I don't see how it translates. But you being the most free rings as true as your health care being the best.

Anonymous said...

It gets tiring listening to the same story over and over. White man took our land! White man took our land!

Natives fought and killed each other all the time before the Europeans ever set foot on North American soil.

Pretty much every race (white, native, etc)of that era was ignorant and violent. The whites just had the upper hand in terms of numbers and technology. Power corrupts so I'm sure the natives may have done the same thing if the roles were reversed.

In Canada, we have a specific tribe protesting over land claims and it was revealed that the land they were claiming was actually stolen from another tribe they killed.

We were all morons back then! Get over it!