Christmas And The National Question: One Cheer For Krauthammer
A tip of the hat to Charles
neoconservative (not necessarily a redundancy,
despite what many neocons claim) who last week lobbed a
much-merited smack at the face of the
"The attempts to de-Christianize
Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless," he
writes, and he`s perfectly correct. [Goodbye
Christmas? Charles Krauthammer, Townhall.com,
December 17, 2004]
Well, actually, he`s not perfectly
correct. Despite his defense of the most important
traditional (and official) American and Christian
holiday, it`s not quite clear from Mr. Krauthammer`s
column exactly why we should keep Christmas at all.
The reason it`s not entirely clear:
Mr. Krauthammer is a neoconservative, and this is what`s
wrong with those people.
The reason the war on Christmas is
absurd, in his view, is that "The United States today
is the most
diverse society in history. It
celebrates all faiths with an open heart and
open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced
countries in Europe, are unique."
What`s absurd is to claim that the
observation of Christmas, as most Americans do observe
it, is in some way evidence of intolerance or
Mr. Krauthammer, as a Jew, allows
as to how he actually enjoys Christmas, not for any
religious reasons but because it`s an inherently
enjoyable and pleasant holiday. He also offers some
snippy and well-placed cracks about the sudden elevation
Hanukah, "easily the least important of
Judaism`s seven holidays," as a kind of
replacement for Christmas.
That`s why it`s accurate to say
that the war on Christmas is not just a misguided
crusade of secularist liberalism; it`s pretty much a
concerted attack on America`s Christian identity.
But that`s the point Mr.
Krauthammer, as a neoconservative, doesn`t quite seem to
get. His objection to the war on Christmas is that
Christmas is essentially harmless. He has two other
One is that the anti-Christmas
crusade is "ungenerous" and the other that it`s
"a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the
communal American religious experience. Unlike, for
example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the
generally tolerant Europe of today, the United States
does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its
sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them."
His first reason is fine, but in
his second, we begin to approach the issue of what`s
wrong with neoconservatism.
What`s wrong with neoconservatism
is that it is a form of liberalism, and as such it is
incapable of saying flatly and clearly that while
Americans certainly enjoy a right to practice whatever
religions they wish, Christianity remains the
public religion of the nation—whether one
believes in it or likes it or not.
Liberals (and neocons) can`t say
that because they don`t believe in public religions and
(especially) that America should have one.
A "public religion" of
course is not an officially established church, as the
Church of England is still. Nor is it the religion to
which the majority of citizens adhere, any more than a
high school glee club founded fifty years ago is young
because all its members are under 18. What is true of
individual members is not necessarily true of the group.
A public religion is the religion
with which a country publicly identifies, and we know it
identifies with it because we know it has become vital
to its identity as a nation.
It is precisely because
Christianity is vital to our national identity that
there is a war against it, and that`s the reason also
there is now a nationwide resistance to that war by
Americans who wish to conserve our national identity.
Thus, the major national holiday is
and always has been the major Christian holiday, and
throughout American history presidents and public
leaders of all parties and persuasions have acknowledged
the Christian identity of the country, without any
supposition of controversy.
Only recently has an American
president (namely, President Bush) gone around babbling
"Happy Holidays," as he did in a press conference
in Italy with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last
week, and even "Happy Hanukah."
That`s because Mr. Bush is a
neoconservative too, and the refusal or inability of
neoconservatism to affirm that America does not just
"celebrate and welcome and honor" "minority
religions" but is publicly and historically
identified with a particular religion central to its
institutions and values, its culture and identity, has
begun to catch up with him.
The more it does, and the more
public leaders absorb neoconservatism, the less
effective their war against the war on Christmas and the
larger war on America will be.
And that`s why, as sensible as Mr.
Krauthammer`s column in many respects is, we need more
than neoconservatism to conserve our nation.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,
America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available
Americans For Immigration Control.
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