Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holiday trees?

TO BRITISH eyes, the giant spruce erected on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol building last week looked indisputably like a Christmas tree.

But in America, where political correctness has made use of the word "Christmas'' taboo in many walks of life, nothing is so simple.

The 80ft New Mexican spruce began the week as the Capitol's "holiday tree'', the name decreed in the late 1990s during the Clinton administration by officials apparently worried about offending Jews celebrating Hannukah and African-Americans marking the invented holiday of Kwanza.

This year, however, Dennis Hastert, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, who will switch on its 10,000 lights on Thursday, decided that enough was enough and has re-christened it a Christmas tree.

"The speaker believes that a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree and it is as simple as that,'' said Ron Bonjean, his spokesman. Matthew Evans, the senior landscape architect for the Capitol, the home of Congress, confirmed that he had received a letter from the speaker renaming the tree.

Whether a Christmas tree can indeed be called a Christmas tree has become this year's chief controversy in the annual showdown over public displays of Christianity.

The first skirmish took place in Boston. When the city designated its tree a "holiday tree'', the indignant Canadian logger who donated it said he wanted it back - while a group led by the Rev Jerry Falwell, the evangelical leader of the religious Right, threatened to sue. The mayor, Thomas Menino, promptly ruled that the "holiday tree'' was, in fact, a Christmas tree.

Despite these victories, other towns and cities across America are putting up "holiday trees'', holding "holiday parades'' and throwing "holiday parties''. The opponents of an overt Christian air to the seasonal celebrations are driven by their perceived fear of upsetting non-Christians and their interpretation of the US constitutional separation of church and state.

But many Americans believe that the campaign has gone too far. Under pressure from a consumer backlash, Macy's, one of America's biggest department store chains, has this year reintroduced the word "Christmas'' into its seasonal advertising.

Across America, campaigners are now arranging boycotts and even bringing legal cases against retailers that continue to substitute "happy holidays'' for "merry Christmas'' in their advertising and their instructions to staff on how to address customers.
"To rename a Christmas tree as a holiday tree is as offensive as renaming a Jewish menorah a candlestick," said Matthew Staver, the president of the Liberty Counsel. At the White House, there was no such confusion on Thursday evening when President George W. Bush lit the national Christmas tree. However, the same could not be said of the 1.4 million cards mailed from the Bushes with the message: "With best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness 2005."
(The Daily Telegraph (LONDON) December 4, 2005 Sunday
NEWS; International; Pg. 32
Headline: Would a Christmas tree
by any other name be as festive?
Byline: Philip Sherwell)

Ironically holiday stems from holy day anyway, which is therefore an offensive form of expression to the atheists and agnostics who just cannot stand hearing any views different from their own being expressed. (Although they'll likely be the first to stand up for the "expressions" of pornographers, as they suit a sect typical to atheism, i.e. religious hedonism.) My first reaction on reading these stories about the creeping fascism* typical to Nature based worldviews is: "So what? Why do they care about symbols and signs that almost no one believes in anyway? We'll all be dead soon enough, and every tree on earth will be dead at some point too." These sorts of views suffer from an overemphasis on transcendence to the point of nihilism. So I'll invest emotional capital in the name of a tree, I suppose. Oh yes, my dander is up and I'm having some feelings about that right now. This means that I'm offended, I take offense at it! And so now whatever viewpoint I mix in with my state of being offended must be inflicted on others...because, I'm offended that they inflicted on me first! For now we're all so afflicted with being inflicted upon. (These afflictions of inflictions seem to accomplish one thing, keeping lawyers in business.)

*Yup, the Nazis went back to winter solstice, exchanging the Son for the sun and so on. Earth day will be allowed to be supported by the State given this type of weltanschauung but support for holidays that are religious holy days is verboten, then they are changed to support national unity or extirpated. At least the American Republic doesn't have any movements based on scientism or similar Nature based worldviews mixed in with the paranoid, delusional and morally degenerate conspiracy theories and the like typical to fascism. Or does it?

Interesting to note what can happen in the name of national unity:
[I]t is possible to recognize, right down to the choice of words, what was true of many elements of the National Socialist Christmas: the formal adoption of Christian ritual combined with a complete change in content.
None of these carefully coordinated contributions made any reference to the purely Christian elements of Christmas. Indeed, starting with the language and going on to customs and ideological content, they were all systematically replaced. Christmas carols taken from hymn books turned up with the familiar tunes, but National Socialist texts; in place of the Christmas chapters from the Gospels, 'German fairy-tales' were offered for reading aloud to convey German mythology...and the Christ Child turned up under the name of the 'Child of Light.' [Son of the morning light is more like it.]
(Christmas Under the Third Reich
By Esther Gajek
Anthropology Today, Vol. 6, No. 4. (Aug., 1990), pp. 4-5)(emphasis added)

It seems silly to actually care about what things are called, the language. As I said, that is my first reaction. But when thinking about it, it is important. Try thinking without words and you'll see that control of language is the key to totalitarianism and control of the Herd. So the word matters, it matters indeed.

Anyway, the replacement holidays were: "The Day of the Summer Solstice" and "The Day of the Winter Solstice."
(The 12-Year Reich: A Social History of
Nazi Germany 1933-1945
By Richard Grunberger
(New York, Ballantine Books) 1971, :80f)

Crucifixes were gradually removed from hospitals and schools (Ib. :494)

The schools were targeted in a strategy to de-Christianize the young. Prayer in schools was stopped in 1935 and from 1941 onward religion was completely eliminated for all students over fourteen years old. (Ib. :494f)

[Related posts: Happy Holidays, from Seeker]

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