Thursday, December 15, 2005

The grinch that stole Christmas (amongst other things)

The Forward, the NY Jewish Week and JTA are all running stories about the state of the Christmas wars in the US this year. All three seem to agree on two things: that whilst there hasn't really been an increase in the anti-Christmas movement compared to past years, there has been a significant pro-Christmas backlash from the Christian right; and that too often, the Jews have either explicitely or implicitely been blamed for the anti-Christmas moves.
I'm rather reluctant to write about this in great detail as, in the two years since I've moved back to the UK, I've become increasingly aware of how deep the cultural differences run between the UK and US/North America, and simply don't feel qualified any more to write about deeply American issues. However, based on my limited and now more European experience, I'll say this. Whilst there may be Jews who are vocally 'anti-Christmas,' the majority of the moves against so many public expressions of 'Western culture,' Christmas being just one element, across the West, usually come from two other sources. They are, first of all, left-wing, secular, somewhat self-hating do-gooders who assume they know what offends others -- even though they're usually completely mistaken -- and presume to act on their behalf; and zealous officials and petty bureaucrats who are so worried about any tiny possibility of being perceived as politically incorrect or insensitive to a minority group and hence getting into trouble that, on their own volition, and even though they probably don't care about these issues at all themselves, they act to 'protect' them -- which usually results in the most ludicrous cenorship of all. Of-course, this simply reinforces the extreme perception of what's allowed and what's 'forbidden' to say and do in our society and in that sense, political correctness has a momentum all of its very own and is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That the Jews are being targeted instead by some elements of the Christian right in the US is a whole other issue which again, I can't go into, but it is these groups (primarily the first) more than any minority who, as far as I can see, are to blame for the increasing intolerance of all things majority-culture (including Christmas) in the West.

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