The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 25, 2013

Controversy fitting for Thanksgiving

Why it matters: In a land where freedom to disagree is so important, a Thanksgiving parade protest makes sense.

Another Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, stirring up all of those thoughts of what we are thankful for and what makes our homeland great.

Ah, America. We are so thankful for its democratic values, its strong beliefs in individual rights and, yes, the wackiness that goes with that.

So the controversy tied to the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York is interesting but not necessarily unexpected. In a land where free speech inspires a lot of grandiose position-taking, the latest news fits the parameters just right.

The Associated Press reports that activists plan to line the route of the parade to protest a SeaWorld float over accusations in a new documentary that the theme parks treat whales badly. And ranchers succeeded in getting rocker Joan Jett pulled off the South Dakota tourism float after they questioned why the vegetarian and animal-rights ally was representing their beef-loving state.

The parade draws attention from across the land with an estimated 3.5 million live viewers and another 50 million TV viewers. What better venue for protesters to make their case? And no matter whether you agree with the position of the protesters or not, it’s nice to live in a country that allows peaceful demonstrations; Thanksgiving is a fitting day to acknowledge that.

The founding of the parade itself is another flavorful slice of Americana. The parade was started in 1924 by first-generation immigrants who were Macy’s employees. These immigrants were proud of their new American heritage and wanted to celebrate their homeland with a proper Thanksgiving festivity.

So the parade is a symbol of being proud to be American, wherever your ancestors may have been from and whatever your views might be.

Whether you are a parade fan or not, it’s another one of those things in America to be thankful for.

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