If it hasn't already happened, here comes proof that political correctness in America has reached such epidemic proportions that it now begins at the kindergarten level.
The following story was related to me by J.S. Lykins, an email correspondent in Scottsdale, Arizona. The other day, he was singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with his five year-old daughter when she interrupted to say that he had to sing “We wish you a happy holiday” instead, because one of her teachers doesn’t celebrate Christmas. This was what she had learned while rehearsing for their “Winter Concert.”
Sure enough, when he attended the concert, the children's songs contained no references to Christmas or Christ or any other actual reason for the celebration to exist. Such concerts have long been a cherished tradition in most communities across the country, but as we know today, traditions are meant to be ridiculed and scorned, not honored.
Ridiculous enough is the idea of a grown woman who might be offended by hearing children sing the word “Christmas.” Even worse is indulging the “sensitivity” of one person to the detriment of dozens of children and their parents. It is a sad thing when the bulk of the people are forced to give up the things they hold dear because some random individual might possibly have their feelings hurt. Unfortunately, this happens all too often.
Christmas is a holiday celebrated by the vast majority of Americans (an overwhelming 96% according to the Gallup Poll). Its songs and carols are sung as the expression of joy and a desire for peace. Is wishing someone a Merry Christmas denying them their freedom of religion? Is singing about the verdant leaves of the Christmas tree offensive to even the most ardent atheist? Of course not. Being inclusive is often a noble goal. But is it inclusive to eliminate all public celebration of a time that means a lot to most of us? Just whom is it that we are including – and whom are we excluding?
One might be tempted to remind educators that a Jewish songwriter by the name of Israel Baline (you might know him as Irving Berlin) wrote “White Christmas,” probably the most popular seasonal tune of all-time. The decision of whether it is worse to sing a song about Christmas, or ignore the legacy of one of the greatest Jewish-Americans, would be a difficult one for the Thought Police; that is, if they ever bothered to think about much of anything.
Our schools have turned into a breeding ground for hostility towards Christmas. In Yonkers, New York recently, Interim Superintendent Angelo Petrone ordered schools to remove all decorations that celebrated a particular holiday, be it Christmas, Hanukah, or any other. No sentiments stronger than a “Happy Holidays” were to be permitted. Teachers were forced to scrap lessons involving the holidays and tear down the children’s artwork. Apparently in Yonkers, as in most of America, it is better to celebrate nothing than risk giving offense.
Elsewhere in New York the public schools went even farther, adopting a policy that encourages the display of the Hanukah Menorah and the Muslim star and crescent, but not the Christian nativity. (Strange that no one ever insists on renaming the menorah a “Holiday Candelabra.”) Teachers were urged to “bring in Muslim, Kwanzaa and Jewish secular symbols” and to “display these religious symbols equally.” No mention, however, was made of equal time for symbols of Christmas. On the contrary, one school in the district that had erected a Christmas tree was forced to take it down.
What must a young child think when her teacher tells her that it is wrong to sing about Christmas? How must students feel when their classroom is decorated with the symbols of Hanukah, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa, but there is not even a Christmas tree in sight? The lessons that our children are learning from this are disturbing. They are being taught that Christmas is not a time to honor and cherish, not a holiday to celebrate with joy. Rather it is something that must not be spoken of, something wrong or even worse.
The United States is not alone in this madness either. As with so many other things, we have exported our contempt for Christmas to Canada. When the city of Toronto, Ontario displayed a large tree earlier this year, local authorities, including the mayor, insisted on referring to it as a “Holiday tree.” Thankfully, the protest from outraged citizens, including many Jews and Muslims, forced the city officials to reverse themselves.
The signs everywhere are discouraging, but at least there is one glimmer of hope. We have a president who has the principles to honor Christmas for what it really is and what it should represent. When President Bush gave his speech at the lighting of National Christmas Tree, he spoke reverently about the holiday:
The simple story we remember during this season speaks to every generation. It is the story of a quiet birth in a little town, on the margins of an indifferent empire. Yet that single event set the direction of history and still changes millions of lives. For over two millennia, Christmas has carried the message that God is with us – and, because He's with us, we can always live in hope.
It is to his credit that the president did not feel the need to reassure the American people that by honoring Christmas he was not slighting Hanukah or Kwanzaa. (Not surprisingly, our previous present, the Panderer-in-Chief, could not make such a claim.) It is to our detriment that such a fact is even notable.
The message of Christmas is one of hope, peace, and joy. It is a holiday that can and should be embraced by all, regardless of their religious beliefs. One need not believe in the birth of Christ to honor a day that stands for such goodness. If we continue to allow these grade school Grinches to take this day from us and our children, we have only ourselves to blame.