|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
By Bill Nelson, Director
December 10, 2008
Public Libraries have always been bastions of intellectual freedom. Consequently, as a library director, I am particularly sensitive when a point of view is consciously silenced. For example, have you noticed the growing effort by individuals and organizations to consciously refrain from saying “Merry Christmas?”
Interestingly, while reference to Christmas is silenced, it seems we are encouraged to wish friends Happy Chanukah (celebrating the miraculous rededication of the Jerusalem temple following the Maccabees defeat of the Syrians), Happy Kwanza (a holiday created by Dr. Karenga in 1966 to honor African American heritage), or even Ramadan (Islam’s sacred month of fasting and purification). So why can’t we joyfully wish people “Merry Christmas?”
There seems to actually be a “War on Christmas”. Your public library holds a book by that title. In it, author John Gibson points out the growing intolerance by some toward Christians. This seems to acutely manifest itself during the yuletide with the censoring of the word, “Christmas”. Instead, the alternative “Happy Holidays”, which could be used for any American holiday is substituted. Gibson points out that in the mid-1990s a trend began in which reference to Christmas was increasingly shunned by the politically correct.
In “The War on Christmas” Gibson describes many examples of intolerance toward Christmas. These include the eviction of a Christmas tree in Indianapolis; a ban on red and green colors in Plano, TX; the removal of a nativity scene (while retaining Kwanza and Chanukah symbols) in Mustang, OK; and even the removal of Santa Claus in Baldwin City, KS because he was construed to be Christian. Similarly, many public schools, including NCSD #1, have renamed “Christmas Vacation” as “Winter Break” or “Winterval.” Many of these resulted from overcorrections to ACLU inquiries and the concern of legal action.
What is going on here? Censorship, pure and simple. Instead of a government censor, the currently trendy nuances of political correctness provide the censoring mechanism. According to the Encyclopedia of Sociology, the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, and the Dictionary of American History, “political correctness” is actually an old Marxist term, once used between Stalinists and Trotskyites to determine who was “politically correct” from the Marxist point of view. The term was revived in the 1980s to describe policies and attitudes that were congruent with liberal orthodoxy.
In the midst of this, whatever happened to intellectual freedom? In institutions which encourage diversity and multiculturalism such as colleges, and public schools, why is it OK to openly “celebrate” other worldviews, but employ worldview discrimination against Christian ones? Hostility to religion by government is as unconstitutional as the official establishment of religion.
It is indeed a twisted notion that inclusion, tolerance and respect for minorities require intolerance and disrespect for the majority. In an age of cultural diversity, tolerance, and multi-cultural hyper-sensitivity why is it that the Christian holiday of Christmas cannot be called what it is? I wonder how many people have stopped to consider that saying “Happy Holidays” might actually be offensive to many Christians.
Public libraries are one of the few remaining institutions that encourage full and complete intellectual freedom. So, stop by your public library and checkout a copy of Gibson’s “The War on Christmas” and make up your own mind. That’s what public libraries are for!
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