Observations On The Charleston, W.V., “Christmas War” (And The Way The Mainstream Media Reported It)

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.

Good.

Observations:

  • 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.

 

8 thoughts on “Observations On The Charleston, W.V., “Christmas War” (And The Way The Mainstream Media Reported It)

  1. I wanted to discuss this yesterday in regards to Mayor Pete. I’d seen the following article about his recently deceased father, Joseph. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/pete-buttigiegs-father-was-a-marxist-professor-who-lauded-the-communist-manifesto

    The guy he was an expert on an Italian Marxist theorist named Gramsci who developed the idea that cultural hegemony is what Marxism has to defeat in order to right all the wrongs in the world and liberate the proletariat. To me, this explains so much. The dominant culture is what holds down the proletariat. It maintains the people in power in power. This is why Christmas has to be destroyed. The dominant culture needs to be destroyed. It’s the intellectual equivalent of “if you can’t win at the game, change the rules so you can win.” This has been a kind of Eureka moment for me. It explains diversity, safe spaces, oppressed minority students, Black Lives Matter, etc. I’m guessing Alinsky picked up ideas from Gramsci. Alizia can probably do a more scholarly discourse on this. I’d love to hear what Mrs. Q has to say about this.

    Jack, I love reading your posts, but take a sabbatical. Run greatest hits for a month or so. You’re a one armed paper hanger. You need to rest. Fainting isn’t a big deal when you’re a kid, but almost 70 is not the new 14. 70 is OLD. As am I at 68.

      • I figured Jack was a year older than I am. But he’s approaching 70 and 70 is a nice, round, LARGE and OLD number. Remember when we were kids? How old did you think someone who was 70 was? Ancient beyond belief. Baby boomers just need some realistic perspective about our age. 70 is not the new anything, nor is 69. Just because we used to think only stupid people made the mistake of getting old doesn’t mean we are forever young.

    • Fortune, good night: smile once more; turn thy wheel!

      As you know, my interest and focus is in ‘causation’. I had been unable to understand the (American) present and so I was forced to undertake an examination of causation. I suggest, with as much humility as could be taken from me as being sincere, that many people now exist in a non-historical frame of mind. They do not understand that the present is the culmination of long causal chains.

      Presently, I pulled down an interesting book from my brother-in-law’s shelves that I had long noticed but had never read: a collection of essays published in 1938 by Charles Scribner titled America Now: An Inquiry Into Civilization In The United States. In it, I feel I have discovered a sort of *key* to understanding the question What Happened?

      It is beyond any doubt, as far as I am able to tell, that America became infected with radical ideas that came to it from Marxist praxis. And — strangely — in proportion to the degree to which it battled Nazism and Fascism and expended energy there, it successively became susceptible to ‘communism’ and the Progressive-Liberal spirit.

      The essays in this volume that most interest me are:

      Public Opinion by Bruce Bliven
      Radicalism by George Soule
      Communist Mentalities by Evelyne Scott
      Birth Control and Population by Hannah Stone
      Race-Prejudice by Jacques Barzun
      The Negro by VF Calverton (George Goetz)

      These essays have shown me that the liberal and forward-thinking intellects of the day had then, and already, outlined what would take place in the country as it was transformed through the war-years. It is all there, clearly outlined and enunciated, and rather convincingly I must say.

      The guy he was an expert on an Italian Marxist theorist named Gramsci who developed the idea that cultural hegemony is what Marxism has to defeat in order to right all the wrongs in the world and liberate the proletariat.

      If I understand it right it was Gramsci who proposed that if the radicals could gain control in the cultural fields — art, literature, academia, radio & cinema — that they could radicalize and transform a stubborn and ‘backward’ people inclined to social conservatism. From that idea, in rather crude terms, some dissidents of the day attack Cultural Marxism and its ‘march through the institutions’.

      I think it is quite fair to say that, yes, they indeed marched through the institutions, and it is their structure of thought and structure of perception which we now operate under and see the world with. *They* have also marched through us.

      Any deviation from this is seen as a resurgence of ‘fascism’. But it is there (in my opinion) that the communistic spirit lurks and where it gains ground. And I think this is why the Democrats are sounding like Communists and Socialists: it is as if the original intentions that were perhaps hidden can now come out into the open. It is an easy and a quick insult, of course, to say that the media are becoming Maoist, yet it is not that much of an exaggeration.

      This is why Christmas has to be destroyed.

      Also in this book there is an essay Catholicism in America by Francis X. Talbot, SJ and he does fairly describe the value-system of traditional Catholicism. Catholicism in its widest sense, and definitely in its social doctrine, does seem to me to represent the sane and solid foundation for a sane and grounded culture. It is a shame — really — that Catholicism has lost so much ground.

      But when one begins to define what it has lost ground against — that is where the conversation gets thorny and difficult. It is a fallacy to imagine that Christmas decorations and pretty colored lights is what Christmas is. The only way to understand what Christmas is to understand it at its most profound and meaningful metaphysical level.

      Not knowing enough of history, I cannot cite an example of a culture that has careened so far into social radicalism and then, somehow, returned back from that. I think that is why no one seems to be able to predict where things are going and what the future holds.

  2. Those damned West Virginians still clinging to their guns and religion!

    Stymied for now, the proggy mayor quietly slips her proclamations for “March 17th Clover Day”, and “A Tuesday Some Time in February or March Celebration” into the shredder…..

  3. Once again, a tidy little essay on a subject that has been percolating in these pages for several years now, ever since the word “DIVERSITY” surfaced with its new, skewed, connotations. Among other things that “give one furiously to think,” Jack’s disquisition is a gift to one who is having increasing difficulty communicating, much less arguing with, woke friends and acquaintances who have adopted the woke vocabulary. So – with proper attribution, of course – I have sent the two key paragraphs to my Left List. As an afterthought, directed to those who know I am an atheist who inherited a lively Jewish culture, I tucked a copy of “Diversity” into a nonspecifically religious, but culturally significant, Christmas card.

    I now await with hope in my heart that I will never have to walk alone again in what I thought was a “majority rules” world. Perhaps it can start in [t]he largely white and Christian city of 48,000… at a parade that could be enjoyed by all, including me, in any city that would educate its citizens to respect each other’s separateness without forcing “inclusivity.”

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