Taking the Kwannukah Out of Christmas
A Christ-free Christmas, which has been the goal of the American ruling elite since before World War II, has finally, at the dawn of the new millennium, been reached. At corporate “holiday parties,” references to Christmas are declared “in poor taste,” because they might offend the 5-10 percent of the local population who are something other than self-described Christians, and in Eugene, Oregon, even the “pagan” Christmas tree, the subject of annual abuse from the same fanatic sectarians who want to eliminate Halloween, has been banned from public property on the grounds that the tree has been contaminated by too many years of association with angels, shepherds, and the Madonna with Bambino. In England, a feminist academic that only the English know how to produce has protested against the sexual and racial stereotyping produced by all those white male snowmen put up by bigoted children. Here in Rockford, the “Festival of Lights” display, except for a handful of displays put up by churches, has almost entirely eliminated Christian symbols and replaced them with crude knock-offs of the Keebler elf.
No, not every member of the ruling elite is in on the plot; some of them even complain when they are greeted with the insulting and Christophobic “Happy Holiday.” But the commercial wing of the elite acquiesced generations ago, when predominantly non-Christian and anti-Christian businessmen converted the feast day of Christ’s Nativity into a festival of greed that resembles nothing so much as a New Guinea Cargo Cult. You remember: The savages were so impressed by all the boxes of supplies dropped by American planes during World War II that they created a religion around the cargo planes, built mock airstrips with decoys hoping to lure on of them down, and even followed the course of the flights all the way to an airport runway. We laugh at their folly, but our own commercial myth of Santa Claus, flying his reindeer or jet plane from the North Pole, is less credible and far more vulgar.
Once upon a time there was Advent, a season of fasting and preparation, but by the 1950’s Advent was replaced with “Only Thirty Shopping Days Till Xmas.” At the time, many Christians complained about the “commercialization” of Christmas, but greed was never the real issue. The same merchants have not fulfilled John Reed’s prediction that some day there would be Martin Luther King White Sales; and while birthdays and funerals and the Fourth of July have slowly lost their significance, the erosion of reverence for the sacred and patriotic has not been entirely buried beneath the litter of sales fliers and candy-striped wrapping paper. And, as Bill Donohue points out in an usually candid press release from the Catholic League, while Christmas has been entirely secularized in commercial America, Hanukkah has been “sacralized.” Donohue cites the egregious examples of FTD and Hallmark, whose selections of Christmas items are entirely secular, while their Hanukkah gifts quite properly include Menorah candleholders and Star of David necklaces.
At the end of the 80’s, a new principal at Bloom Elementary School (where 90 percent of the students were Christian) here in Rockford sent home an announcement that no Christmas symbols would be allowed, including references to Rudolph’s shiny nose, but that children would be celebrating Hanukkah. Sure enough, highly aggressive Jewish mothers came into the classrooms and went through the entire drill, dreidels and all. Evangelical parents, who would never have objected to their children learning about Judaism, protested against the one-sided ruling, and they got Rudolph back in the classroom. Students could even sing carols, but only after seeking permission from their Jewish classmates (most of whom probably felt very creepy about the whole thing).
A revival of Judaism among American Jews is something devoutly to be wished, but the Bloom School affair was a fraud. The “Judaism” practiced by most of these Yuppie doctors’ wives was about as devout and authentic as Kwanzaa. Their real religion, if they had one, was the religion they picked up from the WASP elite they were imitating: Anti-Christianity. Of the religious Jews I know reasonably well, not one of them objects to Christmas. Don Feder has been manfully beating the drum for Christian symbols in public places, Paul Gottfried sends me Christmas cards with religious messages, Jacob Neusner has worked his entire career for genuine understanding between Christians and Jews, but then there are the hate-filled Christophobes, like a local merchant here, who foams at the mouth at every manifestation of America’s old culture, especially in its Southern variety. Such people peculiarly hate Catholics and the South, not because of Pius XI’s alleged reticence during the Holocaust or the South’s “peculiar institution,” but because both are examples of robust Christian cultures that terrified the androgynous Unitarians who took over American society and culture over 100 years ago. Upwardly mobile Jews were only following Emerson’s footsteps in giving up their own religion and hating ours.
In a consumerist society, there was some excuse for mistaking Christophobia for greed, but now we know. What are we going to do about it? Sue the City of Eugene? Whine about the good old days when Santa’s picture was printed on gift cartons of Camels? We could begin by wising up and refusing to give our business to Christophobic merchants who expect to make money during the “Holiday Season,” while banning any manifestation of Christianity. (Perhaps the Christophobes have succeeded better than they anticipated, since retail sales are down .) Second, instead of suing the cities that tear down the crèches and replace them with sleighs, we should start suing every government agency that has the effrontery to display Christian symbols—including Christmas trees and St. Nicholas—while outlawing prayer in school and destroying Christian morality. The “holiday” is our Holy Day, for Christ’s sake, and we should not be sharing it with those who hate and persecute us.