Encore: On the Importance Of Christmas To The Culture And Our Nation : An Ethics Alarms Guide

[As promised, here is the Ethics Alarms Christmas package, lightly revised, last posted three years ago]

I don’t know what perverted instinct it is that has persuaded colleges and schools to make their campuses a Christmas-free experience. Nor can I get into the scrimy and misguided minds of people like Roselle Park New Jersey Councilwoman Charlene Storey, who resigned over the city council’s decision to call its Christmas tree lighting a Christmas Tree Lighting, pouting that this wasn’t “inclusive,” or the  CNN goon who dictated the bizarre policy that the Christmas Party shot up by the husband-wife Muslim terrorists had to be called a “Holiday Party.”  Christmas, as the cultural tradition it evolved to be, is about inclusion, and if someone feels excluded, they are excluding themselves.  Is it the name that is so forbidding? Well, too bad. That’s its name, not “holiday.” Arbor Day is a holiday. Christmas is a state of mind. [The Ethics Alarms Christmas posts are here.]

Many years ago, I lost a friend over a workplace dispute on this topic, when a colleague and fellow executive at a large Washington association threw a fit of indignation over the designation of the headquarters party as a Christmas party, and the gift exchange (yes, it was stupid) as “Christmas Elves.” Marcia was Jewish, and a militant unionist, pro-abortion, feminist, all-liberal all-the-time activist of considerable power and passion. She cowed our pusillanimous, spineless executive to re-name the party a “holiday party” and the gift giving “Holiday Pixies,” whatever the hell they are.

I told Marcia straight out that she was wrong, and that people like her were harming the culture. Christmas practiced in the workplace, streets, schools and the rest is a cultural holiday of immense value to everyone open enough to experience it, and I told her to read “A Christmas Carol” again. Dickens got it, Scrooge got it, and there was no reason that the time of year culturally assigned by tradition to re-establish our best instincts of love, kindness, gratitude, empathy, charity and generosity should be attacked, shunned or avoided as any kind of religious indoctrination or “government endorsement of religion.”  Jews, Muslims, atheists and Mayans who take part in a secular Christmas and all of its traditions—including the Christmas carols and the Christian traditions of the star, the manger and the rest, lose nothing, and gain a great deal.

Christmas is supposed to bring everyone in a society together after the conflicts of the past years have pulled them apart. What could possibly be objectionable to that? What could be more important than that, especially in these especially divisive times? How could it possibly be responsible, sensible or ethical to try to sabotage such a benign, healing, joyful tradition and weaken it in our culture, when we need it most?

I liked and respected Marcia, but I deplore the negative and corrosive effect people like her have had on Christmas, and as a result, the strength of American community. I told her so too, and that was the end of that friendship. Killing America’s strong embrace of Christmas is a terrible, damaging, self-destructive activity, but it is well underway. I wrote about how the process was advancing here, and re-reading what I wrote, I can only see the phenomenon deepening, and hardening like Scrooge’s pre-ghost heart. Then I said… Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Christmas Music Blues”

christmas-hero-h

In addition to honoring his Comment of the Day, I also have to thank texagg04 for his timely comment to last year’s lament here, “Christmas Blues,” about the state of Christmas music as presented by the media. Christmas and holiday music is a useful, if depressing, window into the state of U.S. culture, and if he hasn’t written this commentary, I would have had to. Unfortunately, the tex’s list is res ipsa loquitur, and what it speaks of isn’t good. Christmas, the most ethical of holidays, has been substantially stripped of its ethical foundations by pop culture.

Here is texaggo4’s Comment of the Day on the post “Christmas Music Blues.” For added perspective, you may also want to revue last year’s post, On the Importance Of Christmas To The Culture And Our Nation : An Ethics Alarms Guide.

As of noon today (Monday, 28 Nov), I ran a quick survey of songs played on our local “Christmas” station since the start of last Monday.

95 songs played (though 161 if you separate them by Artist and Version of the song) for a total of 1,893 times.

Here’s the list and how many times they were played (Down on the list are some weird outliers involving the Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice soundtrack. I have no clue how those landed on the station’s playlist archive…but they were there, so I’ve included them): Continue reading

On the Importance Of Christmas To The Culture And Our Nation : An Ethics Alarms Guide

christmas-hero-H

I don’t know what perverted instinct it is that has persuaded colleges and schools to make their campuses a Christmas-free experience. Nor can I get into the scrimy and misguided minds of people like Roselle Park New Jersey Councilwoman Charlene Storey, who resigned over the city council’s decision to call its Christmas tree lighting a Christmas Tree Lighting, pouting that this wasn’t “inclusive,” or the  CNN goon who dictated the bizarre policy that the Christmas Party shot up by the husband-wife Muslim terrorists had to be called a “Holiday Party.”  Christmas, as the cultural tradition it evolved to be, is about inclusion, and if someone feels excluded, they are excluding themselves.  Is it the name that is so forbidding? Well, too bad. That’s its name, not “holiday.” Arbor Day is a holiday. Christmas is a state of mind. [The Ethics Alarms Christmas posts are here.]

Many years ago, I lost a friend over a workplace dispute on this topic, when a colleague and fellow executive at a large Washington foundation threw a fit of indignation over the designation of the headquarters party as a Christmas party, and the gift exchange (yes, it was stupid) as “Christmas Elves.” Marcia was Jewish, and a militant unionist, pro-abortion, feminist, all-liberal all-the-time activist of considerable power and passion. She cowed our pusillanimous, spineless executive to re-name the party a “holiday party” and the gift giving “Holiday Pixies,” whatever the hell they are.

I told Marcia straight out that she was wrong, and that people like her were harming the culture. Christmas practiced in the workplace, streets, schools and the rest is a cultural holiday of immense value to everyone open enough to experience it, and I told her to read “A Christmas Carol” again. Dickens got it, Scrooge got it, and there was no reason that the time of year culturally assigned by tradition to re-establish our best instincts of love, kindness, gratitude, empathy, charity and generosity should be attacked, shunned or avoided as any kind of religious indoctrination or “government endorsement of religion.”  Jews, Muslims, atheists and Mayans who take part in a secular Christmas and all of its traditions—including the Christmas carols and the Christian traditions of the star, the manger and the rest, lose nothing, and gain a great deal. Christmas is supposed to bring everyone in a society together after the conflicts of the past years have pulled them apart, What could possibly be objectionable to that? What could be more important than that, especially in these especially divisive times? How could it possibly be responsible, sensible or ethical to try to sabotage such a benign, healing, joyful tradition and weaken it in our culture, when we need it most?

I liked and respected Marcia, but I deplore the negative and corrosive effect people like her have had on Christmas, and as a result, the strength of American community. I told her so too, and that was the end of that friendship. Killing America’s strong embrace of Christmas is a terrible, damaging, self-destructive activity, but it us well underway. I wrote about how the process was advancing here, and re-reading what I wrote, I can only see the phenomenon deepening, and hardening like Scrooge’s pre-ghost heart. Then I said…

Christmas just feels half-hearted, uncertain, unenthusiastic now. Forced. Dying.

It was a season culminating in a day in which a whole culture, or most of it, engaged in loving deeds, celebrated ethical values, thought the best of their neighbors and species, and tried to make each other happy and hopeful, and perhaps reverent and whimsical too.  I think it was a healthy phenomenon, and I think we will be the worse for its demise. All of us…even those who have worked so diligently and self-righteously to bring it to this diminished state.

Resuscitating and revitalizing Christmas in our nation’s heart will take more than three ghosts, and will require overcoming political correctness maniacs, victim-mongers and cultural bullies; a timid and dim-witted media, and spineless management everywhere. It is still worth fighting for.

More than five years ago, Ethics Alarms laid out a battle plan to resist the anti-Christmas crush, which this year is already underway. Nobody was reading the blog then; more are now. Here is the post: Continue reading

Shelby County v. Holder: Inflammatory Rhetoric, Biased Reporting, Irresponsible Hyperbole

 

The Supreme Court rules that it's not 1965 any more. The Horror....

The Supreme Court rules that it’s not 1965 any more. The Horror….

Sometimes one would think that the left-tilted media and the race-grievance industry is conspiring to divide America. Sometimes, one would be right, and such a time was the disgraceful and misleading reporting of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, followed by apocalyptic and fear-mongering cries of outrage from Democrats, whose characterization of both the decision and its meaning were not just wrong, but dishonest and irresponsible.

The decision did not “gut” the 1965 Voting Rights Act as several news sources stated, nor strike at the “heart” of it, as the New York Times, editorializing in its headline, told readers (quoting Bill and Hillary Clinton), nor  did the Supreme Court “reset” the “voting rights fight,” as USA Today headlined the decision. There is no dispute, or “fight,” over whether minorities should have the right to vote (Really, really unethical headline, USA Today…)  Nor did the ruling “turn back the clock,” as multiple critics claimed. The latter was an especially Orwellian description, given that what the decision really did was insist that a clock that had been stopped for 40 years finally be set to reflect the passage of time. Continue reading

No, Mark Mattioli is Not An Ethics Hero

Dexter, for example, is a very civil serial killer.

Dexter, for example, is a very civil serial killer.

I’ve been getting emails from people nominating Mark Mattioli as an Ethics Hero for his comments before a subcommittee of the Connecticut Legislature considering gun control measures following the Newtown, Connecticut school attack. It’s easy to see why they think that is appropriate, since his emotional remarks—he lost his son in the tragedy—sounded ethical themes throughout.  Insisting that more laws were not the solution, Mattioli decried violence on television, and poor parenting. “We need civility across our nation,” he said, and for “common decency to prevail.” He called for accountability, and personal responsibility.  All nice sentiments; he got a standing ovation from the legislators.

Ethics, however, is not some kind of magic wand that fixes all problems, and how Mattioli thinks it will eliminate crazy teens with semi-automatic weapons is beyond me. We heard the “incivility kills” argument once before, you will recall, when the Left and the media went on a “blame Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin for Jared Loughner”  rampage of their own.  Mattioli’s lament had all the practical relevance to addressing gun violence as Rodney King’s “Can’t we all get along?” and John Lennon’s “Give peace a chance”…which is to say, none. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Incompetent Elected Official of the Week: Sen. Claire McCaskill”

Karl Penny’s Comment of the Day is further reflection on the futile effort to turn back the tide of new technology, which Senator McCaskill apparently believes can be accomplished with a good marketing campaign, making her a candidate for institutionalization.  A prize for the first reader who identifies what a klepsydra was!

“Jack, sometimes I get a little nostalgic about older technologies, generally ones that figured so prominently in my youth, but have now gone the way of the klepsydra. I get nostalgic enough that, almost, for a moment, ideas like Sen. McCaskill’s seem to make sense, and a gleam comes to me eye, and I begin to think, “Yeah….” Then I remember that it’s daylight out, and however pleasant dreams can be, they’re just dreams.

“I also remember that there are reasons—good reasons—why I and millions of others adopted email, wrote documents on a computer, listened to music through an MP3, read my books on a Kindle, and played games on a computer. Truth to tell, most of us don’t really miss those older technologies, except in brief spurts. I have an old Olympia Portable typewriter in a closet. I must have typed a million documents on that thing, from my freshman year of high school through college. Letters, papers, notes, forms, checks (!) even. It was so indispensable, I took it with me most everywhere. Now, it just sits in that closet, and I hardly ever take it out even to look at. The last time it saw any use was last year, when a local high school was doing a play, and they needed an old manual typewriter as a prop. Now, it’s back in the closet.

“Sen, McCaskill may have successfully deluded herself, but I don’t think she’s going to delude much of anyone else, and thank heaven. But, if this is what passes for progressive thought among our elected leaders, then God help us all.”

Heeding the Christmas Season Ethics Alarms

Yes, it has come to this. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas season is a pre-unethical condition, getting worse every year. (Pre-unethical conditions are situations that experience teaches us deserve early ethics alarms, since the stage is set for habitual bad conduct.) The financial stresses on the public and the business community in 2010 will only fuel the creeping tendency to ignore the moral and ethical values that are supposed to underlie the winter holidays—charity, gratitude, generosity, kindness, love, forgiveness, peace and hope—for the non-ethical considerations that traditionally battle them for supremacy: avarice, selfishness, greed, self-pity, and cynicism. Combine this with the ideological and political polarization in today’s America and the deterioration of mutual respect and civility, and the days approaching Christmas are likely to become an ethical nightmare…unless we work collectively to stop that from happening. Continue reading