The “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” Scandal

Some people are now conditioned to see racism in everything, and they are a menace to society, sanity, and the pursuit of happiness.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

What does it mean that the above scene from ” A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” first aired on November 20, 1973 and every year since, suddenly struck some Americans as “racist” in 2018?

Hint: it doesn’t mean that the public is becoming more “woke” to actual racism in America. It means that the relentless effort by one segment of society and many in the news media to use the accusation of “racism” as a political wedge and a weapon to achieve power has officially reached the most dangerous level yet, and is gradually poisoning society. The idea is to make virtually anything potentially “racially insensitive”—choice of words, clothing, casting in TV shows, law enforcement, voting, socialization choices, literally anything and everything, including innocent composition choices in animated cartoons. The objective is to produce fear….fear of making a mistake, fear of offending anyone with hypersensitivity to racial slights, real or imaginary, fear of being labeled guilty of “racism,” which is now the worst crime on earth. This is a sick development that will create a sick society and a dysfunctional culture.

Here is how one critic describes the evidence of racism in the above picture:

“Franklin, the one and only black friend in the group, is seated by himself on one side of the table while the other is crowded with the rest of the friends. On top of that, he’s sitting in a lawn chair as opposed to everyone else’s proper furniture.”

This is deceit and trouble-making:

  • There are six human beings at the table, one of whom is black. In fact, the diversity exceeds the percentage of blacks in the U.S. population. There is nothing racist about him being “the one and only.”
  • Franklin is not sitting “by himself.” He is sitting at the same table with his friends as a welcome guest at a community gathering. Is Linus, who also has one side of the table to himself, sitting “by himself” too? No, he’s a member of the group, at the same table as his friends. Is Marcy, at the opposite end, sitting “by herself?” No, she is also sitting with the group, just like Franklin.
  • Is having one side of a communal table considered some kind of insult? Not at any table I’ve been seated at. I love having a side to myself. It is also an advantage to be able to look at your family and friends across a table, rather than to have to talk to them by turning your head and craning around. There is a strong argument that Franklin is being treated with special consideration.
  • Why did the artist set up the table like that? I guarantee it was not to make a racist statement. How can I guarantee that? I guarantee that because 1) the “statement’ would be idiotic 2) because nobody out of millions of viewers saw any such statement for four decades 3) because if you wanted to be hostile to blacks, you could just skip Franklin. Franklin, a minor, (indeed transparently token) “Peanuts” character added to the comic just five years earlier, is at the gang’s celebration in place of Schroader, Violet, Pigpen, and even Lucy, all more prominent characters. So what’s the theory, that the cartoonists gave the black kid a place at the table over major, long-standing characters in order to insult him? How racially paranoid do you have to be to think like that? The answer is “pretty damned paranoid,” and that’s the state of mind malign political forces here want to promote.
  • Here’s why the table was set like it was:

1. The show wanted to highlight its black character, who was missing from the earlier “Peanuts ” holiday special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Thus they gave him special prominence. You see, with race-baiters, you can’t win: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was racist because it was all-white. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” adds a black character, and it is racist because he’s seated on the “wrong side of the table.”

2. Sally is Charlie Brown’s little sister.  She would sit next to her brother, and besides, she’s a very minor character. She’s relatively hidden in the corner chair. (If Franklin was in the corner chair, it would be “racist.” Snoopy is in the other corner  because he’s a dog. He couldn’t balance the table by sitting on Franklin’s side, because that would be racist—what, the black kid and the dog are in a special sub-human area? Is that it?

3. Peppermint Patty is Charlie Brown’s virtual stalker: she is determined to be his girlfriend, much to his discomfort. Of course she’s sitting next to “Chuck.”

4. Note that the superfluous Marcy, PP’s sidekick, has the least prominent place at all: in the scene, we mostly see the back of her head. If Franklin had been placed there, it would have been “racist.”

  • The smoking gun of the contrived racism complaint is the ridiculous alleged “chair discrimination.” Every kid, and the dog, is in a different style of chair. Patty appears to be in some kind of wicker chair: I’m sorry, can someone point me to the rules that says that in an outdoor impromptu meal of buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, jelly beans, and an ice cream sundae attended by kids a wicker chair is “proper” and a lawn chair—the meal is on a lawn—is “racist”?

I’m disgusted with this whole episode. The mania of accusing the most innocent and trivial words and actions of being “racist” is a plague (MSNBC is the Typhoid Mary in this metaphor) , and its results are hate, anger and division, as well as constant fear of offending some mob on social media and being ostracized. Don’t shrug off the people you encounter who are infected with this pathogen as harmless fools, for they are harmful fools. Challenge them, expose them, and force them to stop their indefensible, unethical conduct.

_____________________

Pointer: Michael West.

30 thoughts on “The “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” Scandal

  1. For somebody who purports to be mystified by the popularity of “Peanuts,” you sure know how to explicate it and rank all the characters. Nice job. I loved “Peanuts” to death as a kid, drew it all the time and named one of my very favorite, late, great and still mourned daschunds “Snoopy,” but I couldn’t identify all the present and missing characters anywhere near as well as you.

    Clearly these young kids weren’t alive in 1973. For which those of us who were can be thankful.

    • I should have mentioned that blonde Peanuts veteran “Patty” was retired once Peppermint Patty appeared. Only room for one Patty, I guess. The bland “Shermy” also was retired. Franklin pretty much took his niche.

      • It was always fun looking through my dad’s childhood collection of peanuts comic books and watching the evolution of characters. Shermy was phased out but kept on the reserve roster when Charles Shulz needed a crowd. He can be seen dancing behind Linus during the famous Christmas special.

  2. My family watched (and still does) the peanuts specials regularly through my childhood. At some point someone said “hey, nobody wanted to sit next to the black kid – peanuts is racist!” And we laughed and laughed because of how absurd it would be to take that seriously. Alas.

    Although the critics missed out. Viewers of the special should know poor Franklin isn’t just in a lawn chair- that chair is sentient, animate, hostile, and potentially carnivorous! He’s seated oppisite the crowd so they can view this modern day gladiatorial battle to the death as they devour their feast.

  3. Given that feelings of marginalization can only be felt by the individual in question a third party cannot impute another’s racial animus toward the alleged victim. If Franklin himself felt marginalized he should say so himself or secure a spokesperson to speak for him or her.
    Obviously, Franklin did not emote or give any communication that suggested he felt marginalized. Thus, the claim of racism by any other third party is fundamentally flawed reasoning.

    As an emerging black lesbian muslim woman who up until recently was cast as a heterosexual white male by the entrenched matriarchal social structure and patriarchal systems of government and science, I find no reason to conclude that Franklin felt anymore marginalzed than members of the feline community which are ommitted completely from the dinner party.

    If Franklin did feel marginalized he should file a complaint with the Screen Actors Guild.

      • Forced to live in a suburban community surrounded by privileged white children who do not understand his oppression, Franklin is a victim of internalized racism. His white “friends” probably have convinced him that he is NOT really oppressed; that it doesn’t matter that he was forced to assume a white man’s name at birth and is now made to observe a celebration of white land-rape and colonization of people of color. He probably thinks that he has “opportunity” if he “just works for it” because his clueless white “friends” and their enslaved dog tell him so, blissfully unaware of their position of power over him.

  4. After careful consideration and deliberation, I have come to conclude that there is one and only one correct response to this charge of racism:

    GOOD GRIEF!!!

    –Dwayne

  5. And none of the race baiters even bother to mention that Franklin would not be segregated in the improper chair on the other side of the table if he’d not invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house in the first place. Note: PP invited herself, then Marcie, then, as she explained to Chuck, Franklin came over and said he’d like to come to, so she extended the invitation to him. One could argue that Franklin was imposing his presence on the Browns.

    If one wanted to see menace in the harmless antics of children, that is.

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