The page two
Sun headline is glaring: ‘UNHAPPY HOLIDAYS’. It would seem that a group of protesters had the previous day gathered on parliament Hill. At issue for the demonstrators was the idea that it should be ok, make that it is a right, to say ‘Merry Christmas’. The whole idea is that rampant political correctness, and an ever-increasing bowing to minorities, has made it taboo to utter ‘Merry Christmas’ in public. The main focus of the protestors seems to be on schools. One child of a protestor was quoted in the article as saying, “we’re not allowed to say Merry Christmas. We have to say Happy Holidays.” Ottawa
While this does indeed sound pretty alarming in the very next paragraph the article contains a quote from a spokesperson from the Ottawa Carleton District School Board stating that there is no policy with respect to this issue. End of story right? No, no, no, not so fast. Instead Roche proceeds to revive the story regarding
who recently decided to make what was formerly a Christmas concert into a more wide-ranging and less specifically Christian event. This decision had caused something of an uproar a few weeks earlier. Even the Canadian branch of The Huffington Post featured an article with the eye-catching, and inflammatory, headline ‘The Ban on Christmas Begins’. Of course even this story was blown out of proportion as it was evident that the school in question planned a number of Christmas-related events – they had merely opted to make the concert into something more inclusive. Cambridge Public School
Perhaps not surprisingly these are the sorts of details left out of the Sun article. It is much easier to perpetuate a non-story when you ignore pesky facts and contradictory details. The photograph accompanying Roche’s piece is of a man holding a placard which reads ‘The Christ In Christmas’ with an image of Santa Claus being crucified. Glad to see that everyone was being balanced and rational! The article further notes that some of the protestors wore red Santa hats. That the whole fabricated corporate-imagined Santa Claus construct was being perpetuated by the demonstrators, of course goes unmentioned. It seems to me that a lot of this issue can be traced to the policies of businesses.
For years we have read articles about how stores have policies which instruct their employees to say ‘Happy Holidays’ rather than ‘Merry Christmas’ (although having worked in several retail stores myself, I’ve never encountered a policy with respect to this issue). Still, why anyone would be surprised that stores want to be as inclusive as possible is a mystery to me. I suspect that if you put to Sun readers the question ‘Short of breaking laws, should retail stores do all they can to attract as many customers as possible and maximize profits?’ the answer would be ‘yes’. Of course the funny part of the screaming page 2 Sun article is that if you read long enough you learn that the protest consisted of “about one dozen protestors” – a number so low the Sun would surely mock it if it were related to any other cause.
Perhaps the most disturbing piece I’ve read recently was a posting on a friend’s Facebook page. The text of the paragraph wondered what our troops had fought and died for if not the flag and out right to say ‘Merry Christmas’. The piece went on to say that if one comes here to live one should adhere to our national values. My first thought was that if you followed the logic of this blurb, we should all be adopting Aboriginal values and beliefs – and should have left our European (and other) baggage at the door. But clearly this is not what this piece was getting at. The ‘us’ is obviously ‘us’ and the ‘them’ is obviously ‘them’. As for how the writer of this rant accounts for the activities, dreams and motives of non-Christian Canadian soldiers (Aboriginal veterans in particular) this question remains unaddressed. Perhaps some of those soldiers were fighting to make our society, and the globe, more understanding, harmonious and inclusive. Again, such complexities don’t make for good rhetoric and easy answers.
The argument is always that political correctness, and the accompanying drive for inclusiveness, is taking the fun and spirit out of Christmas. There might be a hint of truth to this claim. Although I’m an agnostic (even more frowned upon than being a Christian), I’m never offended when someone wishes me a ‘Merry Christmas’. I enjoy the gesture in the ‘good tidings’ spirit – assuming this is more of a traditional wish rather than a strictly a religious one (although by the logic of those Parliament Hill protestors this would make me wrong-headed and off-message). Often, there needs to be a decline in dogmatism on both sides of this equation. Still, as for those that insist ‘Merry Christmas’ is correct and all variations of ‘season’s greetings’ are wrong, one might also make the point that being more inclusive and loving of others is the true spirit. As is so often the case, claimed opposition to political correctness is merely an excuse to disparage, rather than embrace, ‘them’.