Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez (en_ki) wrote,
Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez

the reason for the season

Apologies in advance: this is a little rambling. It's a bit of emotion and coincidence, not really refined into anything.

First, a post in a local LJ metacommunity draws my attention to Somerville's local right-wing paper doing the usual "call it Christmas, not the holidays!" thing.

The way they explained this to us in the '80s in school and elsewhere was something like this: "It's polite to refer to the holidays, because not everyone is a Christian. For example, some people are Jewish, and they celebrate Hanukkah instead."

They kept it simple back then and didn't usually discuss the other religions, or the possibility of being nonreligious, or go into the fact that it wasn't really an important holiday for Jews per se; but making this specific point, that the holiday season was meant to include Jews as well as Christians, was clearly important and part of the mainstream culture, not some liberal quirk1. Looking back, it's entirely clear that this was a conscious measure against antisemitism, one that nobody would have spent energy on if antisemitism weren't a serious problem in recent memory or current experience.

The current generation of the American right is so thoroughly blind to this I can't take it as anything but willful. The sheer anger at not having absolute dominance of the holiday, despite having (as cos mentions in a comment on the article) the special privilege of a national holiday dedicated to their religious observance, can't come from anywhere other than a bigoted sense of entitlement. The degree to which the mainstream Republican party welcomes this behavior is one of perhaps three factors, each of which in itself would make me doubt the honor of any person who could support that party. But I digress; this is about things connecting, so:

Seeing antisemitism in public always reminds me of Greenspun's essay. I haven't read it in a few years and don't currently state any positions on anything mentioned therein, but that's where I was introduced to the term "Judenhass", or Jew-hatred, as the historical and less mealy-mouthed ancestor of the term "antisemitism". The Somerville News article prompted me to Google for it again, and it turns out that the first hit is what Dave Sim has been doing post-Cerebus, which I hadn't heard of. So now that's in my queue, and maybe in yours too.

Anyway, if you know someone who goes off about "the reason for the season", not in a Charlie-Brownish sort of way but in a Bill-O'Reillyish one, I'm a little curious what they have to say for themselves if they're questioned gently along these lines.

1The liberal quirk, of course, was and still is the open and welcoming acknowledgement of other religions, including those that don't celebrate at all; nonreligious people, and their right to share in our common secular cultural celebration of the season; and the pagan history of the holiday.

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