Ruth Marcus’ Washington Post article was amusing to me. Where are the menorahs and dreidels, she cries! Having been fortunate (at least viewed in certain ways) to attend private schools for my formative education, I have a special perspective on the intrusive, obnoxious form Ms. Marcus’ “inclusivity” can take. Growing up, I was not raised as a Christian and did not go to church, so I was none the wiser when every year in elementary school we were blessed with a lesson on the Maccabean revolt, watched videos on the miraculous light in the Temple, made latkes and learned to spin the dreidel. Somewhere I probably still have the multiple dreidels I accumulated over the years of this none-too-subtle brainwashing. If that’s inclusivity, I’ll happily throw it out the window.
At the time, this was all just so much of an ordinary class activity (not that we ever did it for any other religion, mind you), and then later on it occurred to me that if the same thing had taken place and Christian parents had proposed doing the same sorts of activities in class they would have been run out on a rail. I know exactly what opponents of the “War on Christmas” are talking about. It is not only open hostility to Christmas, as a few may display, but the massive move towards indifference and the supplanting of Christmas as the festival of the overwhelming majority of the people in this country by doing as much as possible to emphasise all the most secularised aspects of the celebration and ensure that the religious significance of the day is muffled and kept out of sight.
The “War on Christmas” is the broader effort to make sure that if the symbols of the marginal, minority sects are not given prominent treatment the symbols of the majority religion will be pushed to the side as much as humanly possible. Thus creches are allowed, when they are allowed, only as part of some meaningless pluralistic smorgasbord, the Adoration of the Magi side by side with the lights of the menorah and cries of “Eid mubarak!” That this is a travesty of all the symbols and celebrations involved never seems to occur to anyone.
But Ms. Marcus can find some comfort in this. At my local co-op here in Hyde Park, every check-out line is awash in Hannukah colouring books. There is not a Christian item anywhere in sight. That’s inclusivity, all right.