Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Political Correctness, Religious Pluralism, and the "Holidays"

It's come to the attention of some this year that the political correctness bandwagon that surrounds this part of year has hit a bit of an impasse. Bill O'reilly whines about it practically every night, John Gibson (also of FoxNews) wrote an entire book about it, and Dennis Hastert has flatly rejected it. Now, I don't have too much of a problem being inclusive and representative of minority populations and diverse perspectives, but I do have a problem with "the holidays" when "Christmas" becomes a dirty word.

Christmas is evil - didn't you know? Student Affairs types like me are supposed to believe that because Christians are the "majority" that we and our religion are "in privilege" and that any acknowledgement of our "privilege" (a.k.a. Christmas, Jesus, etc.) represents the oppression and domination of other cultures. Others consider the secularization of everything and the offense of no one to be paramount. It's not enough that we now wish everyone "Happy Holidays" anymore - a colleague of mine just told me tonight that he is no longer supposed to use the word "holiday" - because it implies Christmas.

No, in our secular non-religious borderline pagan society we are supposed to deny religion at all costs. Here's an example - at Iowa State University the favored tradition of the "Festival of Lights" has been replaced with "Winter Festival." There's not too much wrong with this because this particular celebration was never particularly "Christmas-ee" (besides when my fraternity brothers and I sang only Christian Christmas carols all over campus the night of). However, on closer observation the "Winter Festival" comprises of everything that disgusts me about this attempt at not offending anyone.

"Winter, the end of the semester, and the community" are what one of the organizers of "Winter Festival" claim it celebrates. Winter? We are celebrating Winter?

Thanks to a faithful reader I received an electronic copy of the pamphlet explaining this year's "Festival." On the front cover are written the lyrics of "Jingle Bells" and "Frosty the Snowman."


To top it off, you can take a look for yourself at the "Century Tree". Although the history of this tree remains shrouded in mystery, it was once the "Christmas Tree" on campus, then became the "Holiday Tree" - to much scrutiny and overall student disgust - and now has evidently been renamed the "Century Tree" (with purple or blue lights, no longer multi-colored - is that religious?) in recognition of Iowa State's... I actually have no idea why.

(P.S. - A Christmas tree is just that - a Christmas tree. If you don't like Christmas or Christians don't put one up. It exists in no other faith tradition - and we don't ever refer to the "Holiday Menorah" or anything of the type)

I again have no problem with "Happy Holidays" or the like. However, this growing nationwide elimination of Christmas will and is beginning to see a backlash. So if you want to stand around a purple "Century Tree" singing "Frosty the Snowman" to celebrate "Winter" in a way that won't offend anyone be my guest.

As for me and my house we will celebrate the birth of Jesus.

UPDATE: In addition, while attempting to not offend anyone you will never see or hear tradition Christmas terms used in advertising. However, I encourage you to listen to background music in commercials. While they won't say "Christmas" so that you aren't offended, they don't hesitate to play elevator-versions of traditional Christmas songs in order to get you to buy a vacuum cleaner or some coffee. It's ridiculous!

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