Yes, I know it’s old news now. Frosty the Snowman nixed as a white “male icon” that helps “to substantiate an ideology upholding a gendered spatial/social system.” NPR’s Nina Totenberg apologizing for uttering the word “Christmas” (think of all she had to apologize for and she picks Christmas!). The preposterous, pre-fabricated holiday of “Kwanzaa.” The greeting “Merry Christmas” banned at sundry companies and municipalities throughout the domain formerly known as Christendom. All in a day’s work for those wishing to target Christianity in the name of political correctness.
And yet we must not let familiarity inure us to preposterousness. Nor should we make the common mistake of assuming that because something is preposterous it is not therefore seriously harmful. It is sometimes difficult to get our minds around that fact that something can be both preposterous and malevolent. And yet history is full of examples, from Nero and Caligula on down. How silly they seemed — until, of course, their silliness turned toxic.
With that in mind, I offer the following exchange of emails to readers. It was sent to me by one of the parties to the exchange, a doctor who has suffered through the increasingly intolerant and politically correct atmosphere of a large Midwestern medical practice. Our story opens with a seemingly innocuous invitation to a “holiday party” a couple of days ago:
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2010 11:56 AM
To: MED STF ALL
Subject: REMINDER: LUNCH in the Lounge!
You’re invited to celebrate the season at the Med Staff HOLIDAY LUNCH!
When: TOMORROW! Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Time: 11:30am – 1:30pm
Where: Physician Lounge
Ho, ho, ho, right? But my friend thought he would ask the obvious question.
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 8:43 AM
Subject: RE: REMINDER: LUNCH in the Lounge!
I have a question. What holiday is it that you are celebrating? Could it be Christmas?
Heaven forfend! Anything but Christ-mas! But here is the response, res ipsa loquitur:
We don’t celebrate one specific holiday. We honor all holidays celebrated by the members of the medical staff with this one non-specific holiday lunch. I hope you can join us.
And here is the response:
Interesting. So this is the only holiday lunch you have all year. Then why have it 4 days from Christmas. What other holiday is there this time of year?
I just tried ringing you, but got your assistant’s voicemail. I would be happy to talk via phone with you about our robust physician event schedule. Do call when you get a chance.
Also, since we are talking, we noticed you do not have a professional photo up on our website. I invite you to have that taken during our monthly photo sessions in the Physician Lounge. The next one is taking place tomorrow, Wednesday, December 22 from 7:15 – 8:15am. If you are unable to attend, I will alert you to the next session in January.
Have a wonderful day!
You have to love that “Have a wonderful day!”
My friend was right on this communiqué with the obvious response:
I would love to see a copy of your 2010 robust physician event schedule.
That request apparently put a spanner into the works. For the next installment in this little drama comes not from the perky administrator but from a chap identified as “Vice President of Medical Affairs/ Chief Medical Officer”:
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 3:02 PM
Subject: recent emails
—— , I hope all is well. The physician relations office told me that you had some issues with the announcements for the Medical Staff Holiday party, I told them I thought your comments were joking and that you were not one to complain about anything. They took your comments seriously so I hope I am right and your comments were not really directed towards them. They are a great group that have the sometimes difficult task of keeping 1,000 docs happy.
I certainly hope the note describing the lunch was not offensive, I am sure you realize how important it is to be politically correct these days. . . .
To which missive my friend replied:
I cannot even begin to imagine what I said in my email that would have disturbed your staff. It was a simple question and it was serious. I have had a ten year, ten dollar wager to anyone who can find the word “Christmas” on any poster, announcement, etc., etc. at [Name Withheld to Protect the Preposterous]. So far, I have not had to pay anyone. They do celebrate Diwali, Iranian New Year, Black History month, etc. etc. (No St. Pat’s, . . . although they used to). If we cannot defend our culture, we are doomed to lose it.
The response from your staff is, however, typical. Afraid of the word “Christmas.” Prove me wrong and send me the robust 2010 physician event calendar.
I won’t bother to print the response to that, because it was a non-response, an effort to deflect the question, and the request for the “robust physician event calendar” with a faux-chummy inquiry after mutual friends.
My friend ended on a note of resignation:
So I guess I can’t expect the robust physician event calendar for my article: The Hospitals that stole Christmas.
Right he is, but even more to the point is his observation that “if we cannot defend our culture, we are doomed to lose it.” What happened to this country that we are no longer able to celebrate its core founding values and spiritual markers? It may seem like a small, a silly, thing that bureaucrats enforce a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to the Judeo-Christian values and rituals that formed America. But my friend is right. Unless we as a civilization band together to acknowledge and defend who we are as a culture we will in effect be committing cultural suicide. This is part of what the great political philosopher James Burnham meant when he observed that “civilizations die, in truth, only by suicide.” Keep it in mind as you swill the egg nog. Merry Christmas.