Editorials

Mastodon’s Genocide-Depicting Thanksgiving T-Shirts Spark an Outrage

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Mastodon Thanksgiving T-shirt

 

Mastodon decided to release a new t-shirt this Thanksgiving depicting a pilgrim with a gun to the head of a Native American who’s offering him food. Most sane people would look at this design and infer that Mastodon are trying to be cheeky by challenging the false myth that’s spoon fed to American children in which the pilgrims and Native Americans stopped fighting on what is now Thanksgiving Day to enjoy a meal together. Most sane people would infer that Mastodon don’t actually support the genocide of an entire race of people, and that they’re trying to shine a light (in a tongue-in-cheek way) on the ridiculousness of the legend behind this particular holiday. This being the Internet, however, people are not sane, and there’s quite a bit of outrage about this particular design.

Look, I get it: the genocide of the Native Americans was beyond horrific. I can understand why modern day Native Americans might be upset at something that makes light of it. But they’ve got it wrong here: this t-shirt underscores the plight of the Native Americans and sympathizes with them, it doesn’t glorify the white man. As a Jew I can easily empathize with a race that’s been slaughtered en masse, so I put myself in the Native American shoes here: would I be offended at a satirical depiction of nazis massacring Jews, especially one that implicitly sides with the latter? I would venture to say no, I wouldn’t be offended, and I’d point to a popular film in recent history as an example of exactly that: Inglorious Bastards.

Nevertheless, Mastodon have issued a pseudo-apology of sorts via Facebook reiterating that the motive behind printing this shirt was simple:

Regarding our thanks giving shirt, whether you choose to believe or not, the American Indians were massacred by the white settlers who became the Americans we are today.
this shirt represents this atrocity and celebrating in the face of this atrocity is chilling.

we may have a sick sense of humor, but we are far from being “Racist” as some of you who might not get it are calling us.

Whether I’d wear this shirt or not is a different question. I’m not the type that looks to force a “controversial” conversation by the threads I’ve chosen to wear, and I don’t feel the need to express my “intelligence” by outwardly depicting that I know the “truth” about a popular misconception. But that’s just me. If you want to buy the shirt you can do so here for $22 (it comes in girls sizes too).

Thanks: Kelvin D.

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