Holiday Correctness

We’ve had a lot of agonizing over the disappearance of Christmas. It’s not just that PC holds that you wish people “Happy Holidays” or that we spend more time shopping for gifts than we do honoring the reason for the season. It’s also the political manipulations.

Consider, for example, our President, who was supposed to delay signing the tax bill so that Medicare extensions would be funded in 2018, and instead stole a march on the signing so that he could reap millions of dollars in tax benefits. The next day he was the centerpiece of a call-in show for little children wishing to share holiday cheer with him. An editorial from a conservative media outlets extolled the virtues of a president who puts Christmas “front and center.”

That was the last straw for me. How can anyone use Jesus, who came to die for us, to legitimize a man that systematically sacrifices others for personal gain?

My Christmas plans were completely upended by a cold. I backed out of Church, and the family dinner organized by my brother. But after reading the news about Trump, I resolved to go up to Santa Barbara yesterday morning to wish my friends – at a safe distance – “Merry Christmas.”

They are a culturally astute community, and I received different reactions. Most went with the flow, responding “Merry Christmas” back to me, but I was harangued by one who listed all the other options, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah among them.

She probably found me obstinate, but this is how I feel about the matter:

When I say “Merry Christmas,” I am offering my joy to you from its authentic source. My heart opens and love flows out of it. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, well then, wish me a “Happy Kwanzaa.” You’ll find me wishing you “Happy Kwanzaa” back.

Retail America adopts “Happy Holidays” because it doesn’t care where your money comes from. But I can tell the difference when a Jewish child wishes me “Happy Hanukkah.” There’s a ringing in her soul. That’s what we should celebrate and honor – not uniformity but recognition of all the paths by which light and love enter our lives.

So, yes “Merry Christmas!” to you all! And if you drop me a comment to say “Merry Festivus,” well you’ll find it coming right back at you!


Master of PC?

I wonder if Trump’s first act as president will be to lift the gag order on Ivana so that she can tell us all how she survived his narcissism?

“I’m nice to people that are nice to me.”

“I’ll support the Republican nominee as long as the Party treats me fairly.”

Trump enforces “political correctness” with court orders, threats and whining. And at the end of the day, he knows that he can say anything he wants and nobody can touch him.

Well, let me explain “PC” to you, Mr. Trump: it means focus on the problem, not the people. It wouldn’t be an issue if you would frame intelligent policy positions, rather than simply insulting those that take our nation seriously.

Trump and 50 Shades of Grey

At the local writer’s meetup I attended this year, the service providers would distinguish between those that wrote for notoriety, and those that wrote from compulsion. Among the authors seeking notoriety, the success of 50 Shades of Grey was a scandal. While I was never moved to read the book, those who did complained that it was just poorly written.

But if you’re writing for the masses, maybe that is how you write. You write in the way that the soccer moms and housewives actually converse. You use concepts and terms that are familiar in their discourse. You give them something to talk about.

While the pundits at MSNBC tend to view Donald Trump’s presidential bid as a parody of a political campaign, that may be intentional. Trump’s attack on politically correct speaking may reflect his style of problem solving. Rather than crafting a consensus position that offends no one, you speak ideas that give you power over the situation. You categorize people and institutions, and force them to react to justify their existence.

So the Hispanic community includes law-breakers – of course it does, given that many broke the law simply entering the country. But when does inclusion bleed into harboring? Are there segments of the Hispanic population that shield criminals from the police? Trump may believe that his statements force the Hispanic community to consider its loyalties.

So also with Muslim communities and the Islamists in our midst, whether those are home-grown or foreign.

To his supporters, Trump may articulate their fears, and so bring them into political dialog that “PC” (politically correct) standards of speaking have denied to them. His impassioned and thoughtless policy pronouncements may reflect the way that they respond to and internalize frightening events. Trump’s popularity may reflect the permission he gives disenfranchised citizens to participate in the political process.

In the aftermath of the Prop 8 vote in California, I told a lesbian friend that “The gay community and its supporters lost because of intolerance in specific communities. But as a result of the election, we know who those people are, and we can reach out to them.”

Following a segment documenting support among his followers for Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim entry to America, a Muslim spokesman offered this wisdom: Yes, we should ask Trump’s followers if they support his position. But even more: for those that do, we should ask them “Do you know any Muslims?” If they don’t, we should then encourage them to “Go out and meet one.”

So: treat Trump’s political theater as a symptom. It’s value is to bring to light the psychological needs of a misrepresented segment of citizens. Don’t criticize Trump for the service he provides: look beyond him, and offer solutions and solace to those he attracts.