Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Let the ignorance begin

It's not a surprise that this story came out of Boston:

Boston set off a furor this week when it officially renamed a giant tree erected in a city park a 'holiday tree' instead of a 'Christmas tree.' The move drew an angry response from Christian conservatives, including evangelist Jerry Falwell who heckled Boston officials and pressed the city to change the name back."
Nor is it a surprise that, while AP did not identify the city as "liberal Boston," AP has helpfully labeled those who oppose this whitewash as "conservative." Always good to know where you stand: there are normal people, who do the right thing; and there are conservatives, who do the evil thing. Can't tell the players without the scorecard, right? What I also found entirely silly is the ignorance behind the holiday tree. No other winter religious celebration (Hannukah, Kwanzaa) has a tree as its centerpiece. The only one that does is Christmas, which celebrates, yes, Christ's birth. That is, it's a Christian holiday. To take a tree whose only symbolism is manifestly Christian, and to pretend it's just a holiday tree when no other holidays include the tree is so ill-informed. Boston's response to the Christmas tree reminds me of those people who have stricken the word "niggardly" from their vocabularly because, through sheer ignorance, they think it's a bastardization of the N-word. In fact, niggardly is an ancient word, with an honorable lineage:
1366, nygart, of uncertain origin. The suffix suggests Fr. origin (cf. dastard), but the root word is probably related to O.N. hnøggr "stingy," from P.Gmc. *khnauwjaz (cf. Swed. njugg "close, careful," Ger. genau "precise, exact"), and to O.E. hneaw "stingy, niggardly," which did not survive in M.E.
If Boston wants to be truly ecumenical, instead of trying to whitewash a defenseless tree, it should add a Menorah and a Kwanzaa symbol and whatever other winter religious symbols it wants to the public forum. Indeed, to include outreach to atheists, Boston could even add the ritual Festivus aluminum pole. That enhances, rather than detracts from, the marketplace of ideas. UPDATE: At Wizbang, I've learned that the fine people in charge of Boston have already caved. The same post also has a nice rumination about what American Christian celebrations really are, as well as a reminder about the pagan roots behind Christmas' greenery.