Imagine if every Thanksgiving, displays of Pilgrims were increasingly forbidden, retailers refrained from making references to the Mayflower or Plymouth Rock in their advertising, and schoolchildren were no longer allowed to draw turkeys by outlining their hands. After all, Thanksgiving offends some, particularly native Americans. Also, not everyone has reason to be thankful.
Imagine if every 4th of July, displays of the Founding Fathers were increasingly forbidden, retailers refrained from displaying the American flag or the Liberty Bell, and schoolchildren were no longer allowed to sing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” After all, American independence in 1776 did not necessarily mean liberty for everyone. Even today, not every American feels as if they are truly free.
It’s hard to imagine many Americans conceding Thanksgiving or the 4th of July to please an objectionable minority, however vocal or significant. And yet for America’s biggest holiday, not calling December 25 its most widely recognized name has now become a common, politically-correct standard. This Christmas season, one Charleston, South Carolina school will be holding a “Winter Reflection Afternoon,” barring any complaints from students raised in tropical regions or the reflection-disabled.
Though most American holidays, including Thanksgiving and the 4th of July, have come under attack in recent years from the PC crowd, Christmas has long been put in a special kid glove category because of its religious origins. But even by the ridiculous standards of political correctness, should a holiday with explicitly religious roots be exceptionally disqualified from being celebrated publicly more than secular holidays like Thanksgiving or the 4th of July?
At the risk of giving liberals some not-so-bright ideas, how about raising objections to our calendar, a timeline based around the birth of Christ? How about our wedding and funeral rituals, where even non-Christians and atheists often steal or mimic Christian ceremonies? Many attempts to secularize Christmas are futile, as happy “holidays” is simply a combination of the words “holy” and “day.” Every child’s favorite holiday fat man, Santa Claus, is the Catholic Saint Nicholas. We even swear in Christian, where “Jesus H. Christ” or “for Pete’s sake” (a reference to Saint Peter) has been muttered by believers and nonbelievers alike for generations.
Even at our goofiest, Americans cannot run from their Christian roots. A staunch anti-Christian, anti-religious friend of mine fully subscribes to the latest popular end-of-the-world theory, something the Mayan calendar supposedly predicts will happen in 2012. Mayan expert Guillermo Bernal of Mexico’s National Autonomous University says that nothing of the sort has been predicted and suggests that apocalypse is “a very Western, Christian” concept projected onto the Maya. Why? Bernal believes so many are latching on to the Mayans because Westerners own myths are “exhausted.”
Bernal seems to understand Westerners better than they understand themselves. A battered wife who keeps taking back an abusive husband is never praised for being “accommodating,” but considered a stubborn, pathetic fool who only damages herself by refusing to stand up and assert her own self-worth. Today, even some liberals will admit that the West’s ongoing commitment to diversity and multiculturalism has reached a point of absurdity, where too many Americans willingly allow their simplest traditions to be abused in the name of accommodating everyone.
One need not be a genius or a churchgoer to recognize that the United States is a country soaked in Christian symbolism, tradition and temperament, and I am not aware of a nation on earth whose culture was not primarily formed and informed by some sort of religious core. For example, even non-Buddhists can appreciate and celebrate the importance of Buddhism to the region of Tibet.
And yet for every white liberal sporting a “Free Tibet!” bumper sticker on his Volvo-complete with Buddhist symbolism and imagery-that same American-born, Tibetan freedom fighter will often harbor a contradictory distaste for all things Christian in the United States, including religion-tinged celebrations of Christmas. Bernal’s observation that so many Westerners now latch on to the Mayans because their own myths are “exhausted” is absolutely correct, as most PC-minded Americans aren’t antagonistic to public religion per se; only religious expressions indigenous to their own country. I have never heard a Buddhist called a “Bible thumper.” I have never heard Mayans described as “backward.” I have heard both slanders applied to Christians as prestigious as the Pope by American liberals.
When Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas” in 1940, it was not considered a rejection of the composer’s Jewish faith or controversial on any level. It was understood that Americans celebrated Christmas and smart songwriters made cash from it–case closed. Today, the case for celebrating Christmas publicly in the United States is not closed, political correctness has made public expression much less open and Berlin’s song would be far more scandalous than it was 70 years ago.
Christmas is an explicitly Christian holiday that is also explicitly American on countless levels. And in a healthier, more normal and saner country there would be no shyness or shame in celebrating this glaring fact.