by John W. Whitehead, Rutherford Institute:
“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
What a year.
It feels as if government Grinches and corporate Scrooges have been working overtime to drain every last drop of joy, kindness and liberty from the world.
After endless months of being mired in political gloom and doom, we could all use a little Christmas cheer right now.
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Unfortunately, Christmas has become embattled in recent years, co-opted by rampant commercialism, straight-jacketed by political correctness, and denuded of so much of its loveliness, holiness and mystery.
Indeed, the season for giving has turned into the season for getting…and for getting offended.
To a nation of snowflakes, Christmas has become yet another trigger word.
When I was a child in the 1950s, the magic of Christmas was promoted in the schools. We sang Christmas carols in the classroom. There were cutouts of the Nativity scene on the bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of Santa and Rudolph. We were all acutely aware that Christmas was magic.
Fast forward to the present day, and Christmas has become fodder for the politically correct culture wars.
Over the years, Christmas casualties in the campaign to create one large national safe space have ranged from the beloved animated classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (denounced for promoting bullying and homophobia) to the Oscar-winning tune “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (accused of being a date rape anthem) crooned by everyone from Dean Martin to Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel in the movie Elf.
Also on the endangered species Christmas list are such songs as “Deck the Halls,” “Santa Baby,” and “White Christmas.”
One publishing company even re-issued their own redacted version of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem “Twas the night before Christmas” in order to be more health conscious: the company edited out Moore’s mention of Santa smoking a pipe (“The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.”)
In the politically correct quest to avoid causing offense, Christmas keeps getting axed.
Schools across the country now avoid anything that alludes to the true meaning of Christmas such as angels, the baby Jesus, stables and shepherds.
In many of the nation’s schools, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, wreaths and candy canes have also been banned as part of the effort to avoid any reference to Christmas, Christ or God. One school even outlawed the colors red and green, saying they were Christmas colors and, thus, illegal.
Students asked to send seasonal cards to military troops have been told to make them “holiday cards” and instructed not to use the words “Merry Christmas” on their cards.
Many schools have redubbed their Christmas concerts as “winter holiday programs” and refer to Christmas as a “winter festival.” Some schools have cancelled holiday celebrations altogether to avoid offending those who do not celebrate the various holidays.
In Minnesota, a charter school banned the display of a poster prepared to promote the school’s yearbook as a holiday gift because the poster included Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and other secular Christmas icons, not to mention the word “Christmas.”
In New Jersey, one school district banned traditional Christmas songs such as “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night” from its holiday concerts. A New Jersey middle school cancelled a field trip to attend a performance of a play based on Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” because some might have found it “offensive.”
In Texas, a teacher in Texas who decorated her door with a scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” including a scrawny tree and Linus, was forced to take it down lest students be offended or feel uncomfortable.
In Connecticut, teachers were instructed to change the wording of the classic poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to “Twas the Night Before a Holiday.”
In Virginia, a high school principal debated about whether he could mention Santa or distribute candy canes given that they were symbols of Christmas.
In Massachusetts, a fourth-grade class was asked to list 25 things that reminded them of Christmas. When one young student asked if she could include “Jesus,” her teacher replied that she could get fired if Christmas’ namesake appeared on the list.