Friday, December 14, 2012

The War on Christmas

Political correctness (PC) has absolutely gotten out of hand. Because of it I have seen the most ridiculous things happen. For example ... the tale of a classic attraction in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Pirates of the Caribbean used to contain a set with scenes of pirates chasing women (albeit around in a circle and they never caught them), but the final scene in that set showed a pirate being chased in a circle by a woman. This was not sexism, but a joke (based on historical truth by the way). About a decade ago someone in the Disney hierarchy decided that this was politically incorrect and the scene was changed ... the joke was gone. All in the name of Political Correctness ... was it worth it? Had someone complained and did management overreact? Were people really offended by this light hearted attraction?

These days I hear the phrase "The War on Christmas" at lot, but when you look at it, it is simply another case of PC gone wild.

Perhaps it is a reaction to recent lawsuits over religious displays on public property. We have a doctrine of separation of church and state here in the United States, and in many cases Christmas displays - often of a religious nature - were erected in publicly owned spaces. Lawsuits were brought and as required by our Constitution they were ordered removed. While I feel that in most cases the reaction was extreme, I do support the concept that prohibits 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference by the U.S. or State government of one religion over another ... sometimes it is just silly. As long as no religion is excluded from such a display I personally have no problem with any of these displays on publicly owned property. We are a country of many religions.

I have heard some state that we were founded on Christian principals or that we are a Christian country. That, I would argue is simply untrue. We were founded by men who were Christian (some, simply nominally so), but I think they would be shocked to hear that they founded this country based upon any religions basis. I have heard people say that we are the largest Christian country in the world. Perhaps we have more Christians in the country than any other ... but we also have more Jews than any other country. That doesn't make us the largest Jewish country in the world, does it?

But the silliest thing that people are using to point to a War on Christmas is simply a phrase. Ironically, being Jewish, I have always been very aware of this. It first happened years ago with retailers ... the use of the phrase, "Happy Holidays!" Since they are catering to a broad customer base - especially in cities like I live in, NYC - Merry Christmas does not apply to everyone. Soon, people started picking up on this and starting wishing everyone a Happy Holidays. Soon, PC was taking over and rather than simply being a retail strategy, it started to become the PC thing to do. But does this really indicate a "War on Christmas?"

As I said, being Jewish has made me very sensitive to this issue, and unless I know that the person I am speaking to is indeed Christian, I will usually wish them a Happy Holiday. If I know they are Christian I will not hesitate to wish them a Merry Christmas, just as I will wish my Jewish friends (and family) a Happy Chanukah.

But as for me, you will not upset me if you wish me a Merry Christmas. If you do it because you do not know that I am Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas, I simply take it in the manner in which it was meant, and wish you the same. That is also true if you wish me a Happy Holiday. I don't see it as a War on Chanukah. Nor is it important for me to educate you on my religious status, especially if you are simply someone who wishes me good things in passing - such as a store clerk etc. If you are a friend I might correct you but most of my friends already know I am Jewish.

So at this time let me just wish you a Happy Holiday, or a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Chanukah, or even a Happy Kwaanza.

New Year's wishes will come under separate cover.

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