Last week, I posted about how Thanksgiving is the quintessential refugee holiday.* I didn't want to say anything negative about Thanksgiving before the holiday, as that would be a bit of a humbug.* But now, enough time has passed that most of the leftover Turkey is gone, and now I want to write about the more challenging side of the holiday for immigration advocates.* Of course, I speak about the fact that the immigrants in the Thanksgiving scenario (the Europeans) essentially eradicated the original inhabitants of their new country (the Native Americans).

*


Europeans were generally not known for being cordial to the Native Americans.



It has always surprised me that more anti-immigration folks don't use Thanksgiving as an example of what happens when immigration runs amok.* Fifty years after the first Thanksgiving, most of the Wampanoag tribe (the Native Americans who dined with the Pilgrims in 1621) were either dead or sold into slavery.* From an estimated population of 6,600 in 1610, the Wampanoag were reduced to only about 400 individuals by 1677 (they have since recovered somewhat - in 2000, the estimated population was 2,336).* In short, while the first Thanksgiving was lovey-dovey, things didn't end too well for the native peoples who received the new immigrants.* But this is something we rarely hear about from immigration restrictionists.

I suppose one reason that Thanksgiving is not used by immigration opponents is that it's not easy to be anti-Thanksgiving.* Thanksgiving is probably the most popular non-religious holiday in the U.S., and to oppose Thanksgiving might seem un-American (in fact, to oppose Thanksgiving is un-American).* Since immigration opponents always seem to be uber patriots, I guess they do not want to be seen opposing the holiday.

Another reason that the holiday is not used against immigrants is that the analogy between European settlers/colonialists and modern-day immigrants really does not stand up.* The settlers of old were not trying to integrate into the indigenous culture; they were trying to conquer it.* Even if-as some restrictionists might argue-modern day immigrants do not integrate into mainstream society, they are clearly not in the same position to conquer our country as the settlers who conquered the New World.* We are much larger and more unified than the pre-Colombian indigenous peoples.* The number of immigrants coming to the U.S. these days is much smaller proportionately than the number of Europeans coming here in the colonial period.* Finally, most Native Americans died from diseases, and-Lou Dobbs notwithstanding-that is not a real threat to us today (at least not because of immigration).* So even if restrictionists wanted to use Thanksgiving as a cautionary tale about too much immigration, the analogy is weak.

Thanksgiving is frequently cited by pro-immigration types (and pro-asylum types like me).* I do think the holiday could be used to raise questions about immigration: How much immigration is good for our country, whether immigrants appropriately integrate into our society, how best to handle people who are here illegally.* But for restrictionists, maybe it is safer and more effective to raise those issues separately from the Thanksgiving holiday.* That's fine with me, as I am a fan of Thanksgiving.* Now if you'll excuse me, I know we have some leftover cranberry sauce around here somewhere...

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.