Someone should inform American journalists that there is something of a shift going on across the pond regarding the Christmas wars. Thanks to Jerry for sending us the following story from Reuters that should be put on the desks of The Washington Post's features department editors for reasons that shall be discussed later in this post. But first, let's see what the chairman of Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission has to say about how we should celebrate Christmas this year:
LONDON (Reuters) -- Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims joined Britain's equality watchdog Monday in urging Britons to enjoy Christmas without worrying about offending non-Christians.
"It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be star of the show," said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
"Let's stop being silly about a Christian Christmas," he said, referring to a tendency to play down the traditional celebrations of the birth of Christ for fear of offending minorities in multicultural Britain.
Suicide bombings by British Islamists in July 2005 which killed 52 people in London have prompted much soul-searching about religion and integration in Britain, a debate that has been echoed across Europe.
The Reuters article seems to blame the rise of Islamic terrorism for this new hands-off approach on the religious elements of Christmas. Clearly, our friends across the Atlantic are doing some deep thinking about what it means to live in a religiously pluralistic society, but it makes me wonder why the same discussions have not happened in America. Perhaps it is an idea for some journalist to explore.
Speaking of other journalists, the Post's Robin Givhan wants us all to know that we should listen to our therapists and chill out about Christmas. Givhan uses a series of classic movies to show that we should all strive to remember what Christmas is really about. And it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with religion.
So the chat shows get bogged down with experts offering tips on how to prioritize the To Do list or how to avoid debt. Therapists remind people that the real pleasures of the Christmas season are not found in a gift box. But we already know this stuff. We choose to ignore it. And then we complain about it.
At Christmas time, people need reassurance, not shopping guides and analysis. They go back to their past, which in hindsight always seems less complicated. Viewers revisit the Grinch, he of the teeny-tiny heart that grew three sizes upon learning the true meaning of Christmas, because his story grabs hold of an adult problem and wrestles it down into the simplest, most childlike terms.
And it may be that we need an annual screening of "It's a Wonderful Life" to put our own lives in order. George Bailey learns to appreciate the life he has, instead of pining for the worldly one he once imagined.
The video clips attached to the story are a series of films that conveniently avoid famous religious scenes as well, which is too bad because the story could have at least mentioned the reason many people in Britain and in America believe we should celebrate the holiday.
Imagine an American newspaper carrying a quote like this from the Reuters story in the newspapers tomorrow morning. I think Bill O'Reilly head would explode:
Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Shayk Ibrahim Mogra said "To suggest celebrating Christmas and having decorations offends Muslims is absurd. Why can't we have more nativity scenes in Britain?"
Talk about blowing the lid off the media's typical Christmas wars story.