- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2009

Going native

Political correctness has wrung Thanksgiving as dry as an overcooked turkey these days, particularly at the Plimoth Plantation, site of the original 1621 Thanksgiving feast between Pilgrims and the local population of Wampanoag Indians. The plantation’s official visitor guide to “respecting cultural boundaries” reads like a legal brief:

“Today, mistaken ideas about Native People are everywhere. In your conversations with Native staff we ask you to avoid questions or comments that are based on stereotypes, such as war whooping, saying ‘How!’ for a greeting or addressing Native women as ‘squaw’ or men as ‘chief,’” the directive instructs visitors, who pay a $28 entry fee.

“The Native staff that you meet may not look like the stereotypical images of Native People you have seen on TV or in the movies. Like any other ethnic group, Native People are diverse in their appearance. Personal questions such as ‘What is your Native name?’ and ‘Are you a real Indian?’ are not appropriate to ask. Native staff will be glad to discuss why these questions are not appropriate.”

And last but not least:

“At Plimoth Plantation, we request that our visitors do not wear ‘Pilgrim’ or ‘Indian’ costumes while visiting the museum. In our 1627 English Village and on Mayflower II we have highly trained costumed role players on staff. It is often difficult for our other visitors to distinguish between our trained staff and guests who may come in period costume. To avoid any confusion for our other guests, we ask that our guests do not come dressed as ‘Pilgrims.’”

Collateral damage

Should the 9/11 terrorists face federal court or military tribunal? The question elicits bristling answers from politicos and ideologues. Conservatives and Republicans favor the tribunal, liberals and Democrats insist enemy detainees should face federal court in New York City.

Then there is a whole separate chorus for those who maintain that the mere location of the court — Ground Zero, essentially — might prompt another terrorist attack on Manhattan.

Former Republican presidential hopeful and Fox News host Mike Huckabee has thoughts on such things.

“I think it’s absurd, and I think the Obama administration will be as much on trial as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,” Mr. Huckabee says, according to WDBO, a talk radio station in Orlando.

The media-savvy suspects will use their trials as a forum for anti-American venom and sympathy raising, he predicts.

“And God help us if they get off on a technicality because of the way the evidence was gathered,” Mr. Huckabee adds. “I would tell you not only is the Obama administration finished, I think the Democratic Party is finished.”

The American way

Just a dollop of good news to ponder as the big meal looms: 80 percent of employers have designated both Thanksgiving Day and Friday as paid holidays in 2009, the highest percentage of employers granting two days of paid leave since the Bureau of National Affairs began keeping records almost three decade ago. In addition, 98 percent of employers have scheduled T-Day as a paid day off.

And somehow, the price of a classic Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings dropped 4 percent this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $42.91, compared with last year’s average of $44.61.

Well, it’s something, anyway. Happy Thanksgiving.

Days of yore

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek met in Cairo on this day in 1943 to strategize the defeat of Japan.

Today also marks the 46th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the fourth president to die at the hands of an assailant. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn into office later that day aboard Air Force One.

Twenty-four years ago today, Chrysler Corp. CEO Lee Iacocca led the largest swearing-in ceremony for new U.S. citizens in American history, with 38,648 participants.

Dangerous and glamorous: the Northrop B-2 Stealth bomber was unveiled before members of Congress on this day in 1988 at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif.

And last but certainly not least, President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara plus a spate of congressional leaders shared Thanksgiving dinner with U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia on this day 19 years ago.

Poll du jour

65 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats say their families dine together at least five times a week.

86 percent have cooked a meal using a recipe passed on to them by parents.

71 percent of women and 51 percent of men say they make home-cooked meals.

50 percent received calls from telemarketers during the family dinner.

40 percent play music during the dinner.

5 percent text message during the meal.

Source: An Associated Press/GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media survey of 1,006 adults conducted Nov. 5 to 9.

Quote of note

“We’re becoming more juvenile as a nation. The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenage twits.” — Clint Eastwood, to GQ magazine.

David Brooks is jealous of the attention that Sarah Palin and me get, because he doesn’t move the opinion dial one way in any direction. He’s a static zero.” — Rush Limbaugh, on the New York Times columnist.

“The White House has lost its battle with Fox News.” — Niles Gardiner, the Daily Telegraph.

“The Godfather of Green, the King of Conservation: Former Vice President Al Gore.” — CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

Follow Jennifer Harper at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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