The catalyst for starting one occurred on Halloween. There was an article in the Washington Times entitled "Halloween bewitches schools". Having two kids in elementary school I was curious. I had an idea what it was about and I wasn't disappointed. I know that we are almost a month past Halloween but it's not just Halloween that is affected.
Apparently, certain holidays and their celebrations present problems for school systems in America (although this article was only about school systems in the greater DC metro area). It seems that some of our traditional holidays and/or their names are offensive to some groups. So, to make everyone comfortable, some schools have decided to change the name of the holiday or just not celebrate it at all. Not all are doing this, but it seems that a lot of them are. And it just isn't in this area of the country. And, as I write this there is another 'bewitching' article coming out of one of the Seattle school systems.
So how did this happen? When I was a kid ( a long time ago) we celebrated all of the holidays. We also called them by their real names. We looked forward to them. And the more we had the better for us. As a military brat we moved often and there was always a diverse group of kids everywhere I went (although we didn't use the word 'diverse' then, we just knew we were from different places). With all of these diverse kids from around the world we celebrated a lot of holidays. The more the merrier - it beat listening to the teachers. That's how kids view it!!
The reporter for the article interviewed representatives from several schools in surrounding counties to see how Halloween was being celebrated...or not. Some of the schools had no problem with the term Halloween. Others did.
As I read further in the article I started to see what the problem was (as if I didn't already know) ... someone might be uncomfortable or offended.
I was most alarmed by a comment Wayde Byard (Public Information Officer for the Loudoun County Schools) made in the article. Mr. Byard is quoted as saying "We're a multicultural school district. So a lot of people come here and simply don't understand [Halloween]." YGBSM!
It seems that now, those of us that were born and raised in this country have to be careful because our way of life might make a newcomer (citizen or not) uncomfortable? I thought perhaps I had fallen asleep and it was six months later (April Fool's Day....oh, can I call it that?).
I read that some of these people being interviewed want to call Halloween something other than Halloween to 'steer the celebration away from "scary" and toward "positive". Is that unbelievable, or what?!! Actually, it's not unbelievable. I've been watching it happen for years.
C'mon!! Even as a kid Halloween was never "scary". And we "positively" looked forward to that day each year so we could go from class to class and trick or treat, get some candy and then do it again that night.
First of all, America's culture (and yes, we have one) was formed over the last couple of hundred years in large part by those people from other cultures that came to this country to live the American life. A lot of those people brought traditions that have been adopted to create the culture of America. Our culture is different than other countries and we should be glad for that, and we should defend it.
Multiculturalism is the death knell to a society. We are a melting pot society, not an a la carte salad bar. When people come to this country they need to adapt to our way of life. We can and should respect their differences but we should not have to alter our culture or traditions for them. They have a choice on whether to live here or not.
I cannot imagine moving to another country to live and not learning the language (if it isn't already English) and learning and accepting their customs and traditions. Having been in 18 other countries in the world I can tell you that every country has its own culture. Well, at least those 18 that I visited had individual cultures. So I tried to learn as much as I could before and during my visits to these countries to make the experience more rewarding. But I never dreamed of asking those countries to change their way of life to accomodate me. How arrogant would that be? I was in their country and felt it was incumbent upon me to honor their customs.
I said that I have been watching this happen for years now. I have two children in the Loudoun County School District and for the last five years they have come home with projects that they make at Christmas time (oops, sorry, I mean Winter time) such as the dreidles and menorahs, and they get told all about Kwanzaa and yet, although about 85% of the people of this country are Christians and celebrate Christmas, they are told they can make snowflakes and snowmen but nothing that has a religious theme or symbol to it. No kidding - my wife was helping in my daughter's class a couple of years ago and she was asked not to bring anything in other than a snowflake or a snowman...no crosses, no stars, no candy canes, no Christmas tree cutouts and no reference to what Christmas is really about.
Why not? I want my kids to learn about other cultures and their traditions like I did growing up. I also want them to be able to celebrate our traditions too.
I, for one, am tired of the so-called 'enlightened' belief that we have to give up our way of life to make those from other cultures feel 'comfortable'. Those people who came to this country chose to do so and, in making that choice, should understand our culture, customs and traditions.
And if they don't like certain celebrations or traditions -- then they have the option of not participating...just like anyone else. But those traditions and celebrations should not have to be watered down and/or renamed just because a tiny minority don't ;understand' them or feel uncomfortable. How about sharing things from your culture with us. Like I said, as a kid we welcomed any new tradition that gave us a reason to have something to celebrate instead of having to listen to the teacher.
So, if these people come here and 'simply don't understand it', as Mr. Byard says, then they should learn it. No one requires them to participate. This is our country, and if someone wants to come here and live then they should assimilate into our culture. The surest way to destroy any culture is to try to make it multicultural.
And, why is it that the majority of the population has to kowtow to those that preach tolerance? Where is their tolerance to our own traditions and celebrations? But all is not lost, according to the article, in one of the school districts they are 'allowed' to sing Christmas hymns as long as they 'play songs from other religions as well'. I have no problem with that. So, why can't we let our kids celebrate our traditions like Christmas as long as we recognize the others? Common sense seems to be MIA.
Another thing, let's refer to our celebrations by their real names. Have the guts to call things what they are: Halloween is Halloween; Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving; Christmas is Christmas; Hanukkah is Hanukkah; Ramadan is Ramadan; Easter is Easter and I could go on.
This is supposed to be free country and yet those of us who grew up here are finding it harder to celebrate our traditions, whether based in religion or not, because those that preach tolerance and diversity don't practice what they preach. Or, someone might not understand it. Give me a break!!!
It's time for a martini and a cigar.
I know it's a little late but here is a Halloween martini from my collection of over 700 recipes:
2 parts Black Cherry Vodka, 1 part Grenadine, 3 parts Coke.
Pour the Grenadine into a COLD cocktail glass. Float the Vodka over it and fill with Coke. Garnish with a cherry - it should float on top of the Grenadine.