There are many lessons, ethical and otherwise, to be learned from Charleston, West Virginia’s short-lived “Winter Parade.” I originally missed the story, which apparently took place over three days in October. Fox News, which has led the “War on Christmas” narratives since the days of Bill O’Reilly, covered it.
Even before Halloween, Charleston’s new mayor (and its first female occupant of the office) Amy Goodwin sent out a Facebook announcement that “The Charleston Winter Parade will begin at the corner of the Kanawha Boulevard and Capitol Street.” For years, the city has had an old-fashioned “Christmas Parade” (you know, like they show in “A Christmas Story” ?) with Christmas-themed floats, marching bands, fire trucks, Shriners in their tiny cars and Santa Claus. Suddenly it was officially a Druid-sounding “Winter Parade” because Mayor Goodwin wanted to signal that her city embraced all faiths and cultures. “I wanted to show that Charleston is a welcoming and inclusive city,” she said.
A large number of Charleston residents didn’t welcome her unilateral decision at all. “The new mayor needs to be voted out if she does away with the Christmas parade,” read an early comment on ther Facebook post. “Christmas is all about Christ, not some winter parade.” Columnists and radio shows weighed in, almost unanimously condemning her decision. The largely white and Christian city of 48,000 hadn’t exactly been racked with controversy over the Christmas parade, but now renaming the parade felt to many like a rejection of Christianity and tradition.
The New York Times quoted the president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce in Charleston, Steve Roberts: “The community reaction was a collective groan, It’s a cute little parade with cute little kids and can’t we just have a Christmas parade?”
The change threatened to start a chain reaction. The Times story says that Brandon Willard, a junior high band teacher, began to worry about his musical selection for his student band scheduled to march in the parade: Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.”It’s a secular Christmas tune of long-standing (they always played it at my High School Christmas assembly), but Willard became worried that he would be accused of having the band take side. Maybe parents would pull their children from the parade in protest, maybe even preventing the band from having enough musicians to march. It would be a big disappointment to the students, who march every year in Santa hats and with decorated instruments, and this year, with new light-up necklaces he had ordered. The parade also counted toward their grade.
The idea to boycott the parade and attend the rival Christmas parade in nearby South Charleston began to circulate. The issue came up at the church youth group attended by Goodwin’s 15-year-old son, but he reassured his mother all the teenagers supported her.
Then the black community weighed in. The Times reported,
“On the city’s largely African-American West Side, Rev. Matthew J. Watts kept bumping into congregants from his Grace Bible Church who were upset about the mayor’s decision. He didn’t like it either. The small black population in Charleston has long felt shunned by government officials, Mr. Watts said. This was on another level. This time it felt like the mayor was shunning Jesus.To Mr. Watts, who has lived in Charleston for 41 years, it was a painful reminder that America was becoming more secular and that the Christian church was losing the influence it once had. “I’m a traditionalist, and I grew up with a strong background of celebrating the birth of Christ,” he said.
The controversy rapidly became political. Republican State Senate president, Mitch Carmichael released a call to arms against the Democratic mayor’s decision, saying,
“It is clear, these radicals have no interest in our Christmas traditions or in following our United States Constitution. We are calling on Mayor Goodwin and her liberal allies to end this madness and allow our citizens to freely and fully exercise their Freedom of Religion with a CHRISTMAS PARADE.” The Republican state attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, tweeted thatl the mayor’s decision was“political correctness run amok” and demanded that she “reverse course.”
The next day, she did. The “Winter Parade” hadn’t even made it out of October.
“It has been an amazing process, an enlightening process the last two days,” the mayor’s announcement began. “I will say the type of vitriol, the kind of vitriol that has come forth since we announced this suggested change has actually been really hurtful and disappointing. But let me say this: I respect everyone’s individual freedoms to bring that to my doorstep.”
And with that, the Charleston, West Virginia Christmas Parade was back on.
- I usually am wary of the old saw “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but this was a great example of where the maxim applies, unless one believes that the existence of Christmas is a problem. I believe Charles Dickens settled that issue in 1843, when he wrote “A Christmas Carol.”
It’s not a problem unless people work very hard to make it one. Christmas is a social blessing, the perfect example of a tradition that justifies its existence.
- I don’t know why it so hard to grasp the basic principle that when you take something away, even to “improve” things, it will always be seen as a rejection of whatever it is that is being replaced. Always. We recently saw this reaction to Chick-Fil-A’s decision to stop giving to the Salvation Army because the company was being attacked for supporting an anti-LGBTQ Christian charity, which the Salvation Army is not.
How the mayor could think that ending the association of a traditional Christmas parade with Christmas would not be interpreted as a an action hostile to Christmas is mind-boggling. It demonstrates how eager wokeness paralyzes the brain.
- Traditions and rituals unite, clarify and stabilize a community and society. Tearing down traditions do the opposite, and always have. Tearing down a tradition is sometimes necessary as a society learns about right and wrong, and realizes that a tradition perpetuates or inflicts wrongdoing—a real one, not an imagined or manufactured one.
Christmas, as it has evolved in the U.S., is a holiday that promotes ethical values and practices. Tearing it down cannot possibly advance ethical goals, or responsible societal goals either.
- “Diversity,” as the word has been appropriated by progressives, is not an asset to societal unity and cultural strength, but an impediment. The United States is dedicated to the prospect that diverse peoples of diverse beliefs and origins can unite into a single nation and culture, bound by certain core values and beliefs. Up until very recently, that formula has been remarkably successful, and has changed the world for the better.
The political obsession with “diversity” as an objective in itself, using it to weaken and ultimately destroy culture and the nation’s unified vision of what America is, has been, in many respects, disastrous to the nation’s education, literacy, laws, government and sense of community. Not all of these disastrous results have been intentional by the culprits involved, but destroying traditions and weakening culture have long been revolutionary tactics. The promoters of obsessive “diversity,” not the witless, go-along to get-along types like Mayor Goodwin, but those who know exactly what they are doing, are attacking the culture in order to destroy it, with the goal of installing a very un-diverse society where conformity of thought and political ideology is the established order.
- Looked at in this context, the effort to marginalize Christmas, an annual, society-wide tradition somehow combining religion, tradition, popular culture,history, European mythology, art, music, family, secular virtues and capitalism makes sense, and appears sinister because it is sinister.
Christmas cannot stand alone against the current siege against Western culture, the United States, and their shared values values, but it is a powerful symbol.
- The news media, which now fully staffed by former students indoctrinated by the anti-American precepts we lazily and stupidly allowed to dominate our public schools and universities, are ostentatiously on the side of the anti-Christmas revolutionaries. In stories like that of the useful idiot mayor, the news media equates affection and respect for traditions with racism, bigotry, and resistance to enlightenment. Concluded the Times
“Replacing “Christmas” with “winter” was a shot against a way of life that had already changed so much in recent decades as the coal industry in the region collapsed, jobs in chemical manufacturing disappeared, shops closed and large numbers of people moved out of town altogether, leaving a place so different from the one longtime residents remember from their youth,…Across America, the mention of “Christmas” in holiday greetings and decorations has become another measure of political divisiveness. Schools and government buildings have replaced Christmas trees and nativity sets with holiday lights and reindeer. Starbucks is just saying “Merry Coffee” this year.”
“President Trump has weighed in on several occasions with his support for the traditional seasonal greeting, occasionally casting his electoral victory as a seasonal win, too.”
You know that a tradition is bad if the Times emphasizes that President Trump is supporting it. This a masterpiece of subversive spin, I must admit. The defense of Christmas is just a sub-category of “Make America Great Again,” don’t you see? It’s a reactionary retreat to the comfort of all-white, Eurocentric, Christian bigotry. The poor, sad yokel, like the people who elected Donald Trump, are just clinging to their Bibles and guns to fend off social justice progress.
Well, be patient. Christmas will be coming down in Charleston soon enough.
- Of course the teens in the city supported the “Winter Parade.” They have been carefully taught by their schools and their peers that political correctness and faux “diversity” are an unambiguous good.
Will these brain washed kids oppose the city’s woke mayor’s “Winter Parade” or “Science Parade” or “Social Justice Parade” ten or twenty years from now?
- This time, democracy worked the way it is supposed to work. When a popularly elected leader acted impulsively and autocratically against the public will and welfare, the majority of the public signaled its disapproval clearly, and the course that was never desired nor needed was altered quickly because the leader involved was not prepared, committed nor competent.
It is not usually this easy, nor this clear. But the war to protect Christmas is symbolic, important, and worth fighting.