Those in charge of Council Rock Elementary School in Brighton, New York have decided that the school won’t include “Jingle Bells” in its music curriculum and holiday events any more because of the song’s possible connection racist minstrel shows and slavery. They are utter fools, but more importantly they carry an unethical social and intellectual malady that must be addressed and snuffed out if democracy, free thinking and reason are to survive in the United States of America.
Too strong? I don’t think so. I do not even know where Brighton, New York is (though I know Brighton, Massachusetts well) and I would feel no great loss if I never had to listen to “Jingle Bells” and its hack second verse (“Upsot?”) again for the rest of my life. But the “Jingle Bell” censors and and their like carry a fearful, dim-witted determination to cauterize the variety, history and joy out of life in teensy-weensy slices that nobody sane feels are worth the trouble to fight about. They will destroy our culture and the richness of life if they aren’t stopped. The “Jingle Bells” idiocy is as good a place to make a stand as any.
The school banned “Jingle Bells” for two equally stupid reasons, both sub-reasons to the lazy, irresponsible and submissive goal of being politically correct in all things and never, ever challenging the demands of race-grievance bullies who use such minutia as a wedge to gain political power. They will then use that power to inflict their own version of bigotry and bias on the nation. They already have.
An obscure theater historian named Kyna Hamill (though she is Boston College’s Director of the College of Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum and Master Lecturer affiliated with BU’s School of Theatre and African American Studies.) published a scholarly paper in 2017 challenging the origins of the song, because that’s the kind of trivia that scholars spend their time on, and purporting to show that “Jingle Bells” was first performed by a blackface performer in a minstrel show.
The reasoned and reasonable response to this breathtaking revelation, assuming arguendo that it is true, must be “So what?” People with the orientation of Hamill and their acolytes among the Council Rock administrators appear to believe that racism operates like the curse in the horror movie “The Grudge.” In that okay genre film based on a Japanese original, an evil curse attaches to any house where someone has died in the throes of terror or fury. Thereafter the evil latches onto and destroys anyone who comes in contact with the house, no matter how innocent of wrongdoing they may be. In the “Jingle Bells” thesis, racism begat minstrel shows which employed blackface; any performer who performed in such shows was tainted by racism by doing so, and any song or music that such performers performed were cursed as well.
It follows, therefore, according to this whacked-out hysterical belief in an endless chain of guilt by association, that anyone subsequently singing said curse song or, I would think, listening to or enjoying such a song is racist too. Maybe anyone who associates with such a person is also racist. That makes as much sense as the rest of the construct.
The second stupid reason is even dumber and more intellectually dishonest than the first. The district assistant superintendent for the school told a reporter that “some” have suggested that the “bells on Bobtail ring” lyric suggests the use of collars with bells on slaves (Bobtail is clearly a horse) and may thus be connected to the racist origins of the song. Even though the school couldn’t be sure this theory was true, it was enough that some people had “district beliefs” that it was.
Ethics Alarms discussed a related episode in 2014, when NPR suggested that ice cream trucks were evoking racism by playing the tune “Turkey in the Straw.” That folk tune once had racist lyrics used in minstrel shows, and the NPR hit job led to another article article titled ““So It Turns Out Your Beloved Ice Cream Truck Is Actually Super Racist.” Most commenters here thought the attack on the song was ridiculous, though two reliable social justice warriors (now gone with the wind) tried to defend or rationalize the complaint. (Did Good Humor ban the tune after that? The trucks here no longer play it.)
Now the race-baiting, culture-erasing, leftist censors and political correctness fascists are in the ascendant far more than they were seven years ago, meaning that they pose a danger far greater than silencing ice cream trucks. These fanatics need to be exposed, berated, mocked, isolated, shunned and neutralized, and quickly. Schools run by people who can tar “Jingle Bells” as racist cannot be trusted with the minds of children.
The great advantage of the aspiring culture-censoring and mind-controlling left is that their targets so often seem unworthy of a fight. Oh, fine, take down that statue of John C. Calhoun if it upsets you so much. Oh, all right, I’ll call you whatever silly pronouns you want. Have it your way, Brandies students, I won’t use any of those words and phrases you think are “harmful” and that make you feel “unsafe.”
And I’ve got more important things to worry about than “Jingle Bells.”
But that is wrong. This is a slippery slope being ever-so slowly crafted into a fast track, and every little bit gives more power to those who want to constrict knowledge, creativity, association and the pursuit of happiness through indoctrination.
Well, this is too long; I was hoping to get it covered in a single post. However, the fatuous statement of Brighton Central School District Superintendent Kevin McGowan defending the “Jingle Bells” ban demands a proper evisceration. I’ll take that up in a subsequent post.