‘Tis the season to be jolly…or as right wing conservatives would have it: ’tis the season to be racist and to spread hatred. Humanevents.com, a website which deems itself as the “headquarters of the conservative underground” is promoting the right wing’s newest shot at sick, racist humor, a holiday song parody titled “Illegals in my Yard”, which is set to the tune of “Feliz Navidad”. The song is rampant with Latino stereotypes as drunken freeloaders who escaped from border patrol and are out to spread disease and to take down Lou Dobbs (you can view the lyrics here, but please keep a brown bag nearby, as you may just hurl).
“Feliz Navidad” was originally written and composed by Jose Feliciano who intentionally used both English and Spanish for his holiday song, as a way to “create a bridge between two wonderful cultures during the time of year in which we hope for goodwill toward all.” Leave it to the right wing to take this well-intentioned Christmas song and turn it into a way to spread their hateful, racist agenda.
Earlier in the year, the Republican National Committee released a “humorous” parody of “Puff the Magic Dragon”, and called it “Barack the Magic Negro”. Though there was considerable backlash from those who saw past the “oh it’s just fun and games” excuse, the RNC refused to apologize. Why apologize? It’s just the right wing conservatives’ miserably failed attempt at “humor”. There is unlikely any feelings of shame or remorse coming from the right wing for creating and circulating such parodies of popular songs. According to right wing conservatives, racist “humor” is apparently alright, so long as it is “humor” aimed towards Latino Americans and African Americans. And, if you cannot laugh at it and brush it off as good fun and humor, you must not be able to take a joke, right? You must not be funny, and you must not have a sense of humor, right?
How do we address this type of “humor”, especially when it is created and perpetuated by those men who are racially, economically and authoritatively in posititions of power? If they refuse to recognize and confront their own racism due to an enormous sense of hubris and denial, how do we respond? Though the answers to these questions are difficult, they are important for us to discuss. So I open this up to you: how do we deal with this particular type of racism?
Thanksgiving is an annual holiday celebrated by a fairly large number of Americans. It’s usually marked by an oven-roasted turkey, golden corn, a hot apple pie and warm family gatherings. We’ve all heard the myth of why we celebrate Thanksgiving; the Pilgrims settled in New England, and after a long, unusually harsh winter, celebrated with the Native Americans by sharing with each other fresh crops and warming hearts with honest thanks. Thanksgiving has become a day where we recall this myth as we sit around our dining room tables with our families, reminding each other to ‘be thankful’ for what we can call our own. Then we over-indulge our gluttonous desires with comfort foods and feel the effects of tryptophan take over our bodies…
In recent years, I’ve began to wonder: is Thanksgiving really celebrating the coming-together of Pilgrims and Native Americans in a fun, heartwarming feast of thanks and wonder? Given the bloody, genocidal past of United States’ history, I became skeptical and decided to investigate.
Many Americans (particularly those white Americans in power…those who rewrite American history and create capitalist Hallmark holidays) believe in the myth of Thanksgiving and give it no second thought as they generously help themselves to Betty Crocker mashed potatoes. They probably prefer to keep it that way, as is seen generation after generation of school children who come home from school with their paper turkeys, eager to tell their parents about how wonderful the Pilgrims were for inviting the Indians to join them in a feast of thanks giving. What’s the harm in ruining this tradition of false teachings and beliefs?
The truth of the matter is: the first Thanksgivings were celebrations of victory by the white man who mercilessly slaughtered nations of Native Americans in their conquest of what is now the United States. In their mission to fulfill Manifest Destiny, the white man wiped out thousands and thousands of Native peoples, audaciously celebrating each bloody scalping, murder, and rape by having feasts on their newly stolen land, over the dead bodies of their victims. The truth of the matter is: following the mass genocide of Native Americans solely at the hands of the white man on a rampage to spread white supremacy, the white man (as capitalist history writers) needed a way to make what they have done appear not so bad. They needed something to cover up their massacres and make them the heroes in the end. Thus came the invention of Thanksgiving as we know it today: a Hallmark holiday and family tradition in which the kid-friendly version of Thanksgiving’s origin thrives and fools Americans into blindly celebrating mass genocide.