Buckle in for another season of P.C. wars over the holidays.
Although it’s not yet December, Starbucks already had its annual Christmas cup kerfuffle after releasing a green cup featuring a cluster of happy people with the express purpose, according to the coffee chain, of being “a symbol of unity, and to encourage us to be good to each other.” People freaked out that the cup was green, not red, because who has ever heard of the color green being associated with Christmas? As one person put it on Twitter:
— Meg Towner (@MegTowner) November 1, 2016
Some customers were angered by the perceived subliminal message about “inclusivity” while others were temporarily assuaged when Starbucks quickly came out with some red cups with Santa Claus and reindeers after last year’s naked red cup P.R. debacle.
The creeping politicization of the holidays is now starting to poison Thanksgiving as well, and this year it affected my household when my daughter’s school cancelled the day set aside to celebrate Thanksgiving during the school’s spirit week. Parents balked at “Thanksgiving Thursday,” the only day of the week designated to something cultural as opposed to something silly like pajama day or wacky hair day, because it might have promoted “racism” and “discrimination.” First, the school apologized and barred children from in any way representing the Native American part of the Thanksgiving story. And then it capitulated altogether and replaced it with “wear your favorite color” day.
Faster than you can shout “Trigger Warning!” these school kids were robbed of the chance to learn about and celebrate one of America’s most cherished holidays. And they aren’t alone—a quick Google search yields endless stories of schools banning everything from Valentine’s Day to Christmas lest someone be offended by history and culture. Thanksgiving is the latest schoolyard victim.
Perhaps the most troubling thing about banning Thanksgiving in our schools and elsewhere is the lost opportunity to teach children the realities surrounding the circumstances that led to the Thanksgiving meal. It discourages kids from understanding that history isn’t all rosy—and that we can learn from it and become better people and a better nation by looking honestly at our flawed past while also celebrating what is good about our America. (In a supremely ironic twist, my daughter wound up wearing rose-colored clothes to school on “Thanksgiving Thursday”-turned-“wear your favorite color” day.) In fact, Thanksgiving was formally instituted in the middle of the Civil War. President Lincoln’s idea was that we are not defined by what divides us, by violence, and by strife, but by what good we still have within us and by what lies ahead. By today’s topsy-turvy standards, we should cancel the holiday outright because someone might interpret celebrating it as an endorsement of civil war.
One more challenge arises when any attempt to celebrate a holiday is deemed offensive: the holiday gets reduced to mere consumerism—or, in the case of Thanksgiving, to food and Black Friday sales. As one solider reportedly said of the first official Thanksgiving, which turned into a food drive for hungry and beleaguered soldiers, “It isn’t the turkey, but the idea we care for.”
It’s up to sane parents everywhere to make sure the next generation feels the same way.