Once a symbol of America's faith heritage, Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, is now saturated with political correctness. No longer are vacationing families treated to stories of the Pilgrims who were on a mission to gain religious freedom. Instead of being touted as "the cradle of American democracy" as it was once, the site has been "transformed into a city ashamed of its past." On the grounds is a new monument plaque that documents "the devastating effect of Christianity" on America, the Pilgrims' genocide of Native Americans, and "the importance of treating Thanksgiving as a 'National Day of Mourning." In addition, the tour guide on the site offers a revised version of history.
The town of Plymouth's decision to place the "National Day of Mourning/Genocide" plaque on the site can be traced back to an altercation between the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) and the participants in the historical Pilgrims' Progress march. The march had been a custom since the 1920s, and usually drew thousands of spectators. After the marchers paraded through town, they would wind up at Burial Hill, where they would perform an authentic Pilgrim worship service, featuring prayers and Psalm singing. Since 1970, UAINE had staged a competing event in Plymouth, called the National Day of Mourning, to commemorate the struggles of Native Americans. As stated in the December 12, 1996, issue of Workers World, (a publication of the Workers World Party, a self-identified socialist organization) the National Day of Mourning "targets the mythology perpetuated in Plymouth and throughout the U.S. that the Pilgrims were wonderful people who came to Massachusetts only in search of religious freedom and that Native people lived happily ever after." This event included a protest of the Pilgrims' Progress march.
In 1996, some protestors, according to an approving article in Workers World, invited their children to "take a swing at racism" by striking a Pilgrim pinata. When the pinata was broken, children found symbols of Pilgrim "oppression" inside: "money, police badges, toy soldiers, handcuffs, and chains representing the enslavement of African-Americans and the oppression of women, and alcohol ads representing the government's use of alcohol and drugs such as crack to destroy the oppressed communities." Then, according to the article, these items "were thrown down on Plymouth Rock, and a number of protestors spat on the rock to show their hatred for that symbol."
In 1997, the protestors were determined to create a media spectacle against the Pilgrims' Progress march. The protestors, in Indian dress, many of them recruited by UAINE from out of state, surrounded, blocked, and threatened the marchers, assaulting at least one of them. Some twenty-three protestors were arrested. The protest achieved the desired result, with national newspapers announcing renewed tensions between Pilgrims and Indians. Protest organizers complained of the city's excessive use of force in dealing with them, and to avoid further threatened riots, Plymouth agreed to require its local police department to apologize for its treatment of the protestors. Plymouth also agreed to donate $100,000 to the Metacom Education Fund, to allow the fund and its supporters to have a regular Thanksgiving Day event near Plymouth Rock, and to erect the new monuments containing the revised "genocide" version of history.
"The pilgrims came to these shores to establish a capitalist venture and settlement here," UAINE co-leader Moonanum James, of the Wampanaog nation, declared in 1996 after that year's protest. "They stole land from Native people, were completely intolerant of Native culture and spirituality, and participated in numerous forays where they murdered indigenous peoples." So the protestors finally prevailed. A historic site celebrating America's Christian heritage has been declared politically incorrect and unacceptable, and Christian Pilgrims have been branded as plunderers and murderers.
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