Saturday, December 22, 2007

War on Christmas illustrates West's tolerance

The "War on Christmas" has indeed become an annual affair:
... Britain’s Daily Mail reported on November 1, 2007 that the Institute for Public Policy Research, a leading Labour think tank, was advocating that Christmas be "downgraded." Such a downgrading would be part of an "urgent and upfront campaign" to promote a "multicultural understanding of Britishness." [Christmas should be 'downgraded' to help race relations says Labour think tank, By James Chapman] This downgrading would be accomplished by promoting other holidays at the expense of Christmas: "If we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas—and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to—then public organizations should mark other religious festivals too," the report said.

While Western governments have gotten involved, the most salient battles take place in the contest between "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas", as the two phrases jockey to firmly become the standard greeting and parting in business establishments during this time of year. That the latter phrase has become publicly contestable illustrates Western Christendom's (or post-Christendom's, or Occidentalism, or however you want to broadly label liberal Western society) extreme tolerance relative to the rest of the world's major value systems.

Around 80% of Americans are self-identified Christians, and over 95% of Americans celebrate the federal holiday of Christmas. That major retailers like Wal-Mart thought squelching the mention of or reference to the holiday throughout its stores (and others like Lowe's still think it to be a good idea) would be good for the bottom line highlights this extreme tolerance. The 5% who do not partake in Christmas celebrations and take offence to the standard greeting are seen as potentially pushing harder (in absolute terms) than the 95% that do partake in the celebrations and have no problem with the words "Merry Christmas".

Leftists (and it is leftists--while fewer than 1% of Republicans and Independents take offence, 8% of Democrats do) who attack the putative intolerance of the West in celebrating what has become its most important holiday are doing so because it is one of the few accepted ways of allowing their leftist value system--what I see as the unfettered acceptance and even promotion of everything that isn't foundational to Western Christendom, but what less cynically is seen as tolerance in its purest form--to assert its dominance over another value system, since all other non-Western Christendom value systems are basically off limits.

This is inherently self-immolating if pure tolerance is the goal. The target, Western Christendom's values system, is essentially the only major values system willing to passively accept--and even voluntarily fight for--a (or many) competing, and potentially threatening, values system(s) existing in its midst.

To attack the world's least morally judgmental major values system whenever it does make a values judgment (that "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" should be used around Christmas time, when people are busily running around the retail world on account of Christmas)--or even its assertion of the right to inclusion among a plurality (a Creche alongside a Menorrah and a Cresent Moon)--is akin to an autoimmune problem.

Even when it is 'in charge' (as Western Christendom is within the West), and consequently not forced to grant a plural existence to others, these leftists attacking it from within for exerting its right to self-preservation are doing battle with the world's strongest protector of cultural plurality and liberalism. That protector is also being attack from without, of course, as is standard fare when disparate civilizations come into close contact with one another.

Unfettered tolerance has no response to intolerance. A civilization that can find fault in nothing other than itself is not long a viable civilization at all.

Merry Christmas!

3 comments:

Al Fin said...

A civilization that can find fault in nothing other than itself is not long a viable civilization at all. Too true. Also true is that ...a society will not fight for what it believes, if all it believes is that it should never have to fight.Robert Kaplan

In the war of civilisations, the civilisation that will not stand up for itself--and occasionally go to war to demonstrate its ability and willingness to do so--will soon be overrun by more primitive and vital civilisations.

Anonymous said...

Which would have to be the real goal of the left, and this left has long since abandoned any such principles as tolerance. It was always a case of using big-letter principles as propagandistic covers for low power-greed. By now, it is really a serious mistake to define them in temrs of what principles they used to pretend to believe in. One party wants more freedom for aggression, the other wants less. Any mis-sortings, or self mis-sortings are just that; people who don't know which their side is. JSBolton

Audacious Epigone said...

... more vital civilisations.

That phrase captures the essence of what I was trying to get at.

John,

I agree that among 'elites', your characterization has lots of merit.

But I'm also trying to keep in mind those who are genuine but quixotic. I'm 24 yo, and many of my friends and family members are leftists, especially of the environmental stripe. Many of them really are believers, not tendentious power-seekers. I found out in talking to a cousin in law school (who've I've considered a work in progress for four years now!), specializing in environmental law, that she likes Project Prevention's mission and is a big fan of Idiocracy, which she just recently watched.