THANKSGIVING, Miles Standish and Heads on Pikes

Written by Steve Bowers on November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving is upon us again. I love this holiday. It’s full of American history, but I couldn’t get any ideas about a cartoon this year. I get tired of guys in black capes, buckled shoes, truncated witch’s hats and a blunderbuss. When I was in fourth grade my parents bought an encyclopedia set, which came with a bunch of story books. (The purchase probably busted their budget on the farm, but they loved us kids and wanted good things for us. They did other good things for us, like taking us to church twice on Sunday, which probably saved my life.)

Some books were about history. Alex the Great was one book. Another was Arthur and his knights. All were richly illustrated. I remember reading all the history books but don’t recall much about the encyclopedia. (Strange, huh?) One of the books was about the Pilgrims. After reading it, I always remember thinking how there was so much more to tell about the Pilgrims than you usually hear this time of year, when most of holiday news is about how important Black Friday is, instead of Thanksgiving. (Isn’t it odd that some of the same merchants, who have banned the word “Christmas” from the lips of their clerks and advertisements, are “praying” for a good Black Friday?)

I particularly liked the drawing style of the guy who illustrated the Pilgrims book. I was thankful he did not illustrate one of the seldom told and gruesome Pilgrim stories. The story about how Myles Standish settled a dispute with a particularly murderous Indian chief. (Ooops…I want to be politically correct at this juncture. Not an “Indian” chief…but a “Redskin” chief. There …I said it and I’m glad.)

Standish and a couple settlers met the Chief and a couple of his braves in a cabin to discuss their differences. Things quickly degenerated and the chief’s head was on a pike a few hours later. I wondered where Standish got the idea to impale the fellow’s head on a post near the settlement enclosure. After learning some English history a few years later I knew what had inspired Standish. But current events has made me better informed of where Standish probably learned such antics.

Standish, an Englishman, had served as a mercenary in the war between Holland and Spain a couple years earlier. The same war that raged while Vermeer was painting in Holland. (Or was it Rembrandt? I thought about Vermeer at this juncture because as I was doing the accompanying drawing/cartoon, I realized I was over-doing it and said to myself “This ain’t no Vermeer…so cut it short,” which is a subconscious form of self-rebuke…as if saying to oneself “You, also, ain’t no Vermeer,” of which I was already painfully aware.)

At all events, I dropped the self-destructive self-analysis and moved on to reminiscing about Standish. He was captured and became a prisoner of war to the Spanish and was eventually sold by the Spaniards to some slaver in Morocco or some other Hell-hole in the Middle East. After a year or two, Standish became aware he didn’t care for a slave’s career under his Islamic master and gave a rough and roguish notice of his intent to move on to less abusive employers. The story doesn’t make clear whether Standish formulated his career change in advance or whether he was thinking on his feet as he left his former master bleeding-out on the floor.

Isn’t it funny how some problems seem perennial and never go away? The French faced this same problem at the battle between the Moors and Charles Martel and again in Algiers twelve centuries later. Jefferson faced it and decided the best way to meet the threat posed by the ancestors of our current enemies was to birth the American Navy to thump them in Tripoli.

I am tired of writing about these murderous vermin. It’s always the same and our current politicians are much less adroit at dealing with these creeps than any of our former leaders.

The current administration’s obliviousness reminds me of a tactic employed by an Islamic enemy of Saladin. The fellow invented the word “assassin” and developed the idea as a tactic to combat Saladin, who enjoyed vast numerical military superiority. After spreading “terror” via numerous assassinations and really getting inside Saladin’s head, the two adversaries had a meeting during which Saladin, despite his numerical superiority, became completely un-nerved when he learned that his two most trusted body guards (standing at his side at that moment) were actually double agents and were ready to murder him at the word of his arch enemy.

Saladin, shocked, mystified and appalled, allowed his enemy to leave un-harmed, along with his “trusted” body guards. They didn’t trouble him so much as the thought that maybe there were many, many more “trusted” troops under his command who had spent years in his service like the two body guards, surreptitiously insinuating themselves into his army and, perhaps into the company of his most trusted advisers and servants. Saladin went home and tried to put his mind at rest.

If you are a complete dolt…or a commie/socialist/liberal…or a racist opportunist in Ferguson, Missouri, awaiting the Grand Jury verdict and hoping it will prove to be the perfect impetus to shop for that bigger big screen TV…the similarity between Saladin’s double agent body guards and the current Administration may not be apparent to you. (In which case it never will.)

Standish got the idea about heads on poles from his Islamic owner. Ok, Ok…so the Brits beheaded folks, too. And displayed their bodies in gibbets. But it was much rarer than in the new Islamic Caliphate of today. Usually the hangman did the job in England, but today…and for centuries…beheadings are and have been the preferred method of Islamists for dispatching homosexuals, adulterous women, toast scorching wives, helpless children who have committed no greater crime than belonging to a different tribe, Jews, American journalists or anyone resistant to converting to Islam.

And where are the modern equivalents of Standish in our leadership? I do not advocate any sort of quid pro quo against our enemies. I just wish we had leaders who stand ready to use harsh measures in dealing with these centuries-old enemies of civilization, culture, Western Ideals, Christianity, “people of the Book” and America!
I wish we had guys like Sgt. Vickers, who is still probably on a really long coffee break across the street from Parliament in Ontario. OK…maybe guys like him don’t ordinarily enter politics. Too dull.

OK…I understand, but I’d be happy if we just had leadership we could be certain had not been insinuating themselves, over the last few decades, as a sleeper cell in The Chicago Political Machine intent on sneaking into the Oval Office!

And after contemplating that unpleasant possibility for a moment or two, let’s move on to something humorous.

Thanksgiving always reminds me of talking to an old Beefeater in The Tower several years ago. He asked me “Isn’t this Thanksgiving for you Yanks?” I wondered how he knew I was a Yank, but remembering I was wearing Tony Llamas, I figured it was a safe bet for him and answered his question. “Yeeeep,” I said (realizing my horrible Hoosier nasal twang was probably a bigger giveaway than my “cow-pie kickers”). Then he asked if I knew what day “we celebrate Thanksgiving in England?” I puzzled over that one for a moment, remembering that Thanksgiving was, I thought, an exclusively American holiday. I replied in the negative. The old Pensioner smiled and said “July 4” as he walked away laughing into his big white beard.

I’m thankful for many things, particularly God’s love and the friends He provides.


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Steve Bowers
Steve Bowers grew up on a farm in Indiana, attended Indiana University and went into the construction business. While working on a construction project at a law school he was appalled at how lawyers could screw stuff up on a simple building project. Thinking he could do better, Steve went to law school. He’s pretty naive.