A Last Dispatch from the 2001 Christmas Front

 


VDARE.com`s
2001 War Against Christmas Competition!

[I]
[II] [III]
[IV] [V]

A little over one month ago, Chronicles”
printed my essay “Happy Holidays? Bah, Humbug!”
and VDARE.com

used it
to kick off its annual War Against Christmas
Competition.  Since then, I have received a steady
stream of correspondence on the essay–some of it sharply
critical, but most of it extremely favorable.  Now that
the

Feast of the Epiphany
has passed in the churches of
the West – traditionally the time Christmas decorations
are taken down – I thought it might be a good time to
give VDARE.com`s readers an account from the front
lines. 

Of course, not everyone liked
the essay.  I learned that my piece was “ungenerous,”
“unchristian,” “inflammatory,” “malicious, ignorant, and
arrogant,” and “so offensive as to demand immediate and
forceful rebuttal.”   I also picked up some revealing
history lessons, showing that those discomfited by the
public celebration of Christmas tended to subscribe to
the darkest possible view of Christianity.  For example,
I learned that “if [Jews] do not have an equivalent of a
Bach

Christmas Oratorio
, it is because Christians had
them penned up in ghettos until the mid-18th century.” 
The same correspondent also hastened to remind me of
“the hatred the Christian has manifested for
non-Christians in the last thousand years” and of “the
arrogance of the Christians in refusing to accept that
others may not believe as they do.” 

My essay reminded a

Hindu

correspondent that “Christians came to these shores
running away from persecution only to wipe out the
native population and unleash slavery.”  He also implied
that the recent spate of

killings
of Christians in India, though deplorable,
was the result of the “aggressive and virulent approach”
taken by

Christian missionaries

in India.  (Interestingly, Hindu extremists in India
said

similar things

about Mother Teresa.)  I suspect that if I had written
about non-Christians in a comparable manner, my essay
would have received much more attention than it did.

Tellingly, some of my
correspondents also regarded the current assault on
Christmas as rough justice for past misdeeds.  Although
my Hindu correspondent deplored the commercialization of
Christmas, and even expressed agreement with some of my
points, he also wrote that “what is good for the goose
is good for the gander as well.  Most missionary-run
schools in India … getting tax-payer funded government
aid restrain their students from wearing flowers and
having forehead decorations since these are seen as
Hindu.” 

I must confess, though, that
it was not immediately apparent to me why American
schools should consider how missionary schools are run
in India when deciding whether to allow American
children to sing Christmas carols.

Another correspondent thought
that my nephew`s wondering why our family did not
observe Hanukkah or


Kwanzaa

represented “a small dose of what Jewish children have
experienced for decades.  Until recently Jewish children
were inundated with celebrations of Christmas in all
public places, including schools.” 

Of course, these examples are
not really symmetrical.  A Jewish child wondering about
Christmas is reflecting simple numerical reality: most
of his countrymen do celebrate Christmas.  A Christian
child wondering why his family does not celebrate
Hanukkah or Kwanzaa is reflecting, not numerical
reality, but a concerted effort to drive signs of
America`s Christian and Western heritage out of our
public places.

Despite the invective, my
critical correspondents were earnest and generally
well-meaning.  More to the point, they did not
fundamentally disagree with me.  None of them wrote that
Christmas was thriving as never before.  None of them
suggested that the alternative holidays fostered by the
multiculturalists were being elevated for their
intrinsic worth, rather than their proximity to
Christmas.  (Indeed, I was assured that “no Jew denies
that Hanukkah has grown in importance out of all
proportion to its significance.”)  And none of them
disputed that multiculturalism was serving to eclipse
Christmas.

This critical trickle, though,
was overwhelmed by a flood of correspondence from people
who liked the essay.   (Indeed, I am continuing to hear
from people who liked it, as those who initially read
the piece are now sharing it with friends and family.) 
And this positive correspondence came from a broad
spectrum of Americans, from university professors and
secretaries and schoolteachers, from all manner of
Christians and even some non-Christians.  One Jewish
correspondent agreed that the public elevation of
Hanukkah was not a good thing, nor in keeping with
Jewish tradition:  “You are right.  And it does much
harm to the sense of perspective that Jewish kids walk
away from all of this with.  The irony is that the
educators who push this pap are only nominally Jewish. 
Hanukkah is essentially a holiday to be celebrated in
the home and not in the streets or the public places.”

Nor was this positive response
confined to conservatives.  The essay did appear in
Chronicles
, on VDARE. com, and in
Middle
American News
–all basically
conservative outlets.  And it was quoted at length by
two nationally-prominent conservative commentators,
Pat Buchanan and Sam Francis. 
But an abridged version also appeared the Sunday before
Christmas in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Pittsburgh`s major newspaper.  Since the Post-Gazette
has a conservative competitor, the Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review
, it is likely that many of the
Pittsburghers who applauded the essay were not
ideological conservatives.

The positive response I
received was extremely heartening, because it reflected
a great love for Christmas and evinced a willingness to
defend this splendid holiday.  One correspondent wrote,
“All I can say about your article, is that it made me
cry and Amen.”  Another wrote, “I read your editorial on
Sunday morning and didn`t know whether I wanted to jump
up and cheer or sit quietly and cry (so I eventually did
both!!).”  One school board member said she would use
the essay to fight the War against Christmas, vowing to
share it with the district`s superintendent and
principals and with her fellow board members.  (She also
related a skirmish in the War against Christmas from her
Pittsburgh area district: a mother was recently given
permission to stage a Hanukkah party for all the second
grade classes but another mother who wanted to speak to
the children about Christmas was rebuffed.)

One of the letters to the
editor published by the Post-Gazette perfectly
captured the great love of Christmas, and the
willingness to defend it, that I saw in so many other
letters.  Bernice Renkawek told the readers of the
Post-Gazette
:

“I am ashamed to say that for the past few years, I
have found myself becoming so entangled in political
correctness that my own holiday has suffered as a
result.  I realized this year that it had gotten
completely out of control when I didn`t wish my regular
bus driver a “Merry Christmas” because I didn`t know how
it would be taken.

I wish Mr. Piatak`s article had been printed
sooner.  I wish I had kept my Polish backbone and not
given a hoot as to what people would think if I had
wished them a Merry Christmas.  And above all, I wish I
hadn`t pushed the celebration of the birth of Jesus into
the back seat, under a blanket, where it couldn`t be
seen and, therefore, wouldn`t offend anyone.

Mr. Piatak said it quite simply.  The holiday is
Christmas.  Period.  And such a beautiful and wonderful
holiday it is.  Thanks to him, from now on I will do
exactly what I feel in my heart.”

My conclusion, after sifting
through the reaction to my piece, is that there are a
lot of people like Bernice Renkawek out there, who will
gladly join in the defense of Christmas and be grateful
to anyone who champions this incomparable holiday. 

The question is, are any of
our public figures brave enough, or smart enough, to
seize this opportunity?

January 07, 2002