The PC ‘war on Christmas’ is no right-wing myth

Dec 4, 2021 by

by Patrick West, spiked:

From the EU to the Cabinet Office, our elites really are uneasy about the C-word.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without news reports that some institution has ‘banned Christmas’, or eschewed any mention of it, for fear of offending non-believers and ethnic minorities. So, right on cue, a headline in the Mail on Sunday read: ‘Now Whitehall’s woke “blob” tries to ban Christmas: Ministers are warned using the word in festive jab drive will offend minorities.’

It wouldn’t be Christmas, either, without the haughty retort that stories of ‘Christmas being banned’ are typical right-wing nonsense, invariably peddled by the Daily Mail. In response to the Mail report, the HuffPost said that any attempts to ban the C-word were undertaken by the Cabinet Office, and not the ‘woke’ civil service, as the Mail had claimed. ‘Versions of this story traditionally come around every Christmas’, sighed the HuffPost, ‘but this year it manages to shoehorn in the term “woke”’.

The charge that banning Christmas is a tabloid fantasy or a case of ‘moral panic’ is a familiar one. ‘Winterval: the unpalatable making of a modern myth’, ran a 2011 Guardian headline. The article explained how Birmingham City Council never sought to rebrand Christmas as ‘Winterval’ in 1998 as a sop to ethnic minorities, as was widely reported at the time. Rather, it employed the term ‘Winterval’ to cover many December events in the city. The ‘Winterval myth’ was also debunked in a 2007 episode of QI, in which Jo Brand sarcastically joshed that ‘Winterval’ was ‘political correctness gone mad’, and Stephen Fry imperiously scoffed that the popular banning-Christmas narrative was ‘absolute bollocks’. It was all the fault of the Daily Mail, he added.

Paradoxically, the idea that this is all ‘absolute bollocks’ is itself a myth. The recent Mail on Sunday story may have been casual with the details, but it did expose something real: those in power still approach the C-word with trepidation and censorious intentions. Public mentions or allusions to Christmas have indeed been shunned or avoided in recent years, from Luton council banning Christmas trees in 2006 in favour of ‘Harry Potter-themed’ events, to a company handling UK cinema advertising banning a pre-Xmas Church of England campaign to promote the Lord’s Prayer in 2015.

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