Don’t dishonor the Pilgrims
To the editor:
The recent short AP story on preparations for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower left me a bit dismayed. If, in the past, we did not give sufficient attention to the unfortunate aspects of historic events, we have now gone way too far in the other direction. The fact that Native Americans often suffered and died as a consequence of their encounters with Europeans should not be the focus — or even a co-focus — of the 2020 commemoration. We honor the men and women of the Mayflower for their bravery, heroism and willingness to undergo suffering for their ideals, just as we remember other prominent historic individuals for the best — not the worst — that they represented. (For this reason, I am also not a fan of our current statue-toppling fetish.) Short of evacuating the hemisphere, there is no way we can make amends for what happened to Native Americans beginning in the 17th century. Our energies would be far better spent attempting to help current-day Native American communities remedy the persistent social and economic problems they face.
Come 2020, I will be leaving my sackcloth and ashes in the closet, and will be honoring, in very traditional terms, the brave settlers at Plymouth who helped write an early chapter of our shared history as Americans. Because in that history there is more good than bad, and more to celebrate than to bemoan.