The unpleasantness that occurs every year about Christmas displays, as Kathryn Lopez mentions today at NRO, and as Candace details below, comes at least in part from the confusion over culture and creed in our national consciousness. True, destructive agencies like the ACLU just want to use our principles in such a way as to tear us down; and true, the Left has pushed multiculturalism and diversity, according to which every group expects public representation of its own traditions.
But the well-meaning creedalists have added to the problem by so overstating the universalism of American values, and its total apartness from any cultural underpinnings whatsoever, that people from different backgrounds often feel entitled to take offense at any public display of the traditional cultural aspects of the American way of life. Unless the situation is clarified, that there is a particular cultural basis to our creed, we will continue to have this ugliness every year, and more and more of the culture that provides such joy and meaning to so many will have to disappear in order to appease those who choose to consider themselves outsiders.
Even Tony Blair in his enumeration of the essential values that give “us the right to call ourselves British,” namely, the belief in democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, and equal treatment for all, also added “respect for this country and its shared heritage” (emphasis added). Rush Limbaugh remarked yesterday on how good it would be to hear an American version of this from one of our leaders.
Interestingly though, Robert Spencer did not see what he called “Blair’s watery vision of mutual tolerance” as sufficient, and calls for an even more resounding and unapologetic affirmation of Judeo-Christian Western civilization as worth defending, and as superior to the Islamic alternative now on offer.
If we are straight and strong on this, that we are not just upholding universal ideals, but also, of necessity, the civilization that carries them, we might well see an abatement in the ugly Christmas wars.