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 a reason to be thankful.
Imagine if every July Fourth, displays of the Founding Fathers were increasingly forbidden, retailers refrained from displaying the Liberty Bell, and schoolchildren were no longer allowed to sing "Yankee Doodle." After all, American independence in 1776 did not necessarily mean liberty for everyone.
It's hard to imagine many Americans conceding Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July to please an objectionable minority, however vocal or significant. And yet for America's biggest holiday, not calling Dec. 25 its most widely recognized name has now become a common, politically-correct standard. In the '80s, I can clearly remember the sign in front of my middle school listing the dates for "Christmas vacation," which today is more commonly known as "Winter Break," that is, until any complaints are lodged by students raised in tropical regions.
Though many American holidays, including Thanksgiving and July Fourth, 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 Independence Day?
Many attempts to secularize Christmas are futile. Take for instance the phrase "Happy Holidays." "Holidays" is a combination of the words "holy" and "day." Meanwhile, every child's favorite holiday fat man, Santa Claus, is based on the Catholic saint Nicholas. Christianity has even influenced our swears. Many a nonbeliever and believer alike have muttered "Jesus H. Christ" and "for Pete's sake" (a reference to Saint Peter). And 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?
Even at our goofiest, Americans cannot run from their Christian roots. A staunch anti-Christian friend of mine subscribes to the latest popular end-of-the-world theory, something the Mayan calendar supposedly predicts will happen in 2012. However, Guillermo Bernal, an expert on Mayan culture, says that nothing of the sort has been predicted and suggests that the apocalypse is "a very Western, Christian" concept projected onto Mayan beliefs. Why? According to Bernal, Westerners have "exhausted" their own myths and so they are latching on to those of the Mayans.
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 might easily harbor a contradictory distaste for all things Christian in the United States, including the religious celebration of Christmas.
Bernal's observation that many Westerners have now latched 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 which are near and dear to the founding citizens of 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 — even ones 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, and political correctness has made public expression much less open. If it was penned today, 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 more normal, healthier, and saner country, there would be no shyness or shame in celebrating this glaring fact.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.