Sunday, December 18, 2016

Blank Verse : Merry Christmas

This is a Special Edition of Blank versus Blank. This post is the presentation of a single side of an issue. Because it is only one perspective, we call this a Blank Verse.

This Blank Verse is presented by David.

Much has been made in the past week of Donald Trump's Thank You Tour, which has now taken to calling itself the Merry Christmas Tour. Trump had said during the campaign that if he were elected, people would once again be saying "Merry Christmas". It turns out to be true. I've heard more people saying those words at work and on TV than I have in some time. (Actually, it's been about 8 years.)

Although there has not been any official banning of the greeting, we've all read numerous stories of school districts and college communities that either banned the greeting, or developed policies against it. All in the name of tolerance.

Studies and polls have shown that a  majority of Americans prefer the greeting "Merry Christmas" to anything else, such as "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings", but most Americans are not offended by either greeting. Even my Jewish friends admit they aren't offended by "Merry Christmas", in the same way I'm not offended if they offer a "Happy Hanukkah" to me. A cheery greeting is a cheery greeting.

But this election was partly about saying "enough" to political correctness, which was a driving force in trying to minimize or eliminate phrase. While some would argue that the increasing secular nature of our society was driving the change, many Americans would also argue that there has been a force, especially in colleges and universities, to push censorship of speech, especially if that speech is of  Christian values. So as not to offend anyone who is not a Christian, many schools and activists pressured administrations to develop policies that would limit Christian expression in any type of open forum.

From The Weekly Standard's Naomi Schaefer Riley:

Wilfred McClay, a historian at the University of Oklahoma who studies religion and culture, notes, "the cause of eliminating Merry Christmas from people's speech was actively embraced by only a few people, but their effect is magnified, and thus causes others to passively accept it."In this way, says McClay, the reluctance to say "Merry Christmas" (even by Christians he knows in Oklahoma) is symbolic not simply of a move to a more secular culture, but also of a culture that increasingly censors what we say. McClay notes, "Like so much else, it's now about controlling speech, and changing the culture by making more and more things unsayable. It now lines up with the inadmissibility of, say, talking about differences between men and women."

Just last week, Texas Women's University declared that "Holiday Party" was also unacceptable, as it "connotes religious tradition", which is apparently not inclusive. Seriously? The word holiday connotes religion? I suppose they don't realize that the name of their school is also not terribly inclusive. Oh well. 

They go on with their advice:  “Avoid religious symbolism, such as Santa Claus, evergreen trees or a red nosed reindeer, which are associated with Christmas traditions, when sending out announcements or decorating for the party.” I'm not sure what Bible version they're reading, that has Santa as a religious figure or Rudolph hanging out at the manger. It seems they don't just want to ban the Christian traditions and symbolism, but also secular and pagan influences. That seems a little overboard.  I suppose all of the students at TWU are supposed be hiding under their beds in their safe-spaces this Christmas. It would be a bit ironic if they wanted to ban "snowflakes".

It's this ridiculous, over-the-top political correctness that contributed to the Trump election. It turns out a majority of people in a majority of states just want someone to say what they really mean, and really mean it. They want to say Merry Christmas on the Federal Holiday of Christmas without fear of retribution. (I find it curious that President Obama's own White House Calendar has "Christmas" on December 25th, yet your local school district's calendar isn't allowed to print that word.)

It's not surprising, really, since 80% of Americans celebrate Christmas, no matter their religious affiliations, even if they are atheists. For the majority of Americans, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, God's Son. And for many, it remains a celebration of giving, of experiencing the joys of family and tradition, and of peace.

Has Trump changed anything, really? Like I said, It sure seems like I'm hearing more people saying the words they really want to express, but it really doesn't matter. You can say Merry Christmas. Or you can say Happy Holidays with a wink, and I'll know what you really mean.  It's a sentiment expressing joy to you, and of peace and goodwill towards all. And in our troubled times, that's a good thing.

Merry Christmas.                                   

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