“Merry Christmas to the world’s 2.5 billion Christians. And to the remaining 5 billion people, including Muslims Atheists Hindus Buddhists Animists & Jews, Happy Monday.”
What would justify a public figure tweeting that kind of arrogant, hostile, belittling message at his fellow citizens on Christmas Eve?
This was one of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweets yesterday. I’m sure the nation’s most prominent and least deserving pop intellectual assumed that his many Twitter followers who hang on every word of revealed wisdom he utters would appreciate his giving Christmas the metaphorical back of his hand, which only means this asshole has a lot of asshole followers.
Why do this? It is not as if there is any delusion among Christmas revelers that “billions” of others in the world do not have the pleasure of celebrating the world’s most inclusive and ethical cultural holiday. Tyson’s intent was not to inform, it was to diminish, using a version of the Golden Rationalization: “Everybody does it;” in this case, “More people do it, so what you do instead isn’t as great as you think it is.”
Asshole. Tyson doesn’t have to observe Christmas, and he doesn’t have to absorb the wisdom that Scrooge learned so traumatically, he need not acknowledge an annual ritual in which we are all encouraged to embrace love, peace, generosity, ethics, respect, charity, empathy, selflessness and hope for at least a day, opening the possibility that the enlightenment may last longer, and even a lifetime, as it did for Ebeneezer. If he had any decency or common courtesy, however, he wouldn’t try to spoil the holiday for anyone else not so blighted. As Richard Fernandez wrote yesterday, deftly exposing the flaw in fatuous efforts among various sad enclaves of progressives more concerned with triggering some offense with a “Merry Christmas!’ than with the health of society itself, it is helpful to understand
“…Christmas as playing a role analogous to the fictional baseball field in the movie Field of Dreams: not a place or day but a reverie. To paraphrase the famous speech to Ray, when people come to Christmas, …”it’ll be as they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. … It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.” But Christmas has marked the time. Marked the time because, as C.S. Lewis once adventured, Christmas is not an idealized memory of childhood but of something glimpsed in childhood.
“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
…The effort to erase Christmas will probably fail for no other reason than that it meets a human need that a mechanical bureaucratic day off cannot fulfill. Humanity needs a time to mark the growth and change in the family, an occasion to renew hopes and put aside fears and a chance to remember something we once knew: that everything’s going to be alright in the end. It really will.