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EDITORIAL: Holiday wars
The party-poopers are going after Halloween now
Whenever people gather for a little fun with the celebration of a holiday, there’s someone nearby eager to stop it. The kill-joy movement has been semi-successful with its war on Christmas, relentlessly pursuing anyone wishing a greeting in the name of the Prince of Peace.
Retailers have shunned mentions of Christ for years, cowering behind generic banners proclaiming “holiday” greetings, along with ” ‘Tis the season” sales, with no appreciation of the Christmas shopping spirit that drives upward of 40 percent of the entire year’s revenue. Alexandria refers to its City Hall plaza Christmas tree as a “holiday tree,” though the only holiday about trees is Arbor Day, the last Friday in April. Nobody celebrates that one except a few lumberjacks and landscape gardeners.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the carols, but some schools now require “December” or “winter” concertmasters to ration the Christmas music in favor of the secular, lest the easily offended get their knickers in a knot. The repertoire for winter concerts at schools in Wausau, Wis., for example, remains unclear so far this year following community outrage after the president of the school board suggested that five secular songs be presented for every carol. She wanted to make sure the program is fair and balanced.
Most of these crusades are duds. The terminally high-minded have been trying for years to recast Columbus Day as something called Indigenous People’s Day because Christopher Columbus was a white European invader who inflicted genocide on the peaceful natives and desecrated their pristine landscape. This revision originated, as many goofy ideas do, in California. But Indigenous People’s Day never quite caught on, presumably because it’s difficult to replace the annual three-day Columbus Day weekend white sales.
Now the PC police are looking askance at Halloween. Officials at the University of Minnesota and the University of Colorado caution students to exercise sensitivity in dressing up. That’s good advice, but these officials had something more in mind. In an email to students, the university reminded students that “certain Halloween costumes inappropriately perpetuate racial, cultural and gender stereotypes.”
“Although it may not be the intent,” the dean of students said, “these costumes, and choosing to wear them, can depict identities in ways that are offensive or hurtful to others.” As examples, she cited costumes that stereotype blacks and American Indians. Her counterpart in Boulder told students to avoid “white trash” costumes — which is odd, because dressing like “white trash” is the daily uniform of choice on most campuses. She urges students to avoid looking “oversexualized,” or dressing as a geisha or a squaw. Colorado students are warned against hosting Halloween parties with “offensive” themes, such as mocking ghetto dwellers or hillbillies.
Halloween is supposed to be fun, and it’s big business, too. It’s second only to Christmas in terms of spending on the holiday, and shoppers are expected to spend about $6.9 billion on Halloween candy, decorations and costumes this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s good, because the sick economy needs all the help it can get.
Bad taste is what Halloween is all about, and some of the schools are getting a little carried away with the nanny business. When conservatives protest against offensive television programming, the stock response of the PC left is “If you don’t like it, change the channel.” In the same spirit, we urge anyone offended by politically incorrect Halloween costumes to take a deep breath and count to 10. We suppose if a student insists on being really scary and offensive, he could dress up like the college dean.
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