Australian Prime Minister (PM) John Howard expressed his concerns that political correctness in some Aussie cities had toned down their Christmas celebrations, especially that of depicting the biblical nativity scenes or even a Christmas tree, out of fear of offending minority religions.
He said f**k it, and called on more department stores to have the bloody balls to return to a more Christian tradition – OK, he didn’t actually use the F or B-words, but KTemoc decided to employ them to typify his mood in his fight back against political correctness rhetoric. In fact what Howard has said was he "regarded with contempt those who downplayed Christianity during the festive season in case it offends the non-religious or people of other faiths."
But two of Australia’s biggest department stores, Myer and David Jones, pulled the rug from under his political feet, when they averred they have been displaying nativity scenes in their shop windows every year. In fact, Myer store said it has displayed nativity scenes for the past 50 years. KTemoc has personally seen nativity scenes in other smaller store, so one wonders what or whom PM Howard had in mind when he made that fearless and resolute statement.
As a non-Christian I confess I like Christmas trees, and so do many of my non-Christian friends – we would stand near one at a Christian friend’s house, and when our hosts aren’t looking, would casually eat up the lollies hanging on the tree. Then last year I persuaded my non-Christian sister – in fact she’s a heathen (some kind of Asian religion which we needn’t corrupt our posting with) – to have a Christmas tree up in her non-Christian house. She did just that, with jingle-bell lights all included, and I became a hero to my nephews and nieces, but my intention was more ‘sweet’ than altruistic, if you know what I mean.
Quite frankly neither my sis and her family who have live in Oz for donkey years or I have ever encountered or heard of such silly political correctness, other than the accusations that have floated up from time to time, the latest case being from PM John Howard himself. In fact, among the Chinese and Malaysian communities, even those of the Islamic faith, we have wondered where this accusation of excessive political correctness regarding Christmas trees, carols and Christmas celebrations had originated from - certainly not from the non-Christian sources that we are familiar with.
OK, back to subject, Aussie religious leaders called on PM Howard instead to do more to promote peace and tolerance at Christmas, especially in the wake of the recent racial riots.
Uniting Church president Dean Drayton agreed with Myer and David Jones Stores that the Howard's demands for nativity scenes or Christmas trees were needlessly called for. He said he did not see anyone attempting to restrict the symbols of Christmas. As mentioned earlier, KTemoc also believes it’s more of a ‘myth’ than fact about political correctness preventing a country with a Christian majority from celebrating such an important Christian event in a fashion they want.
Drayton stated that PM Howard's call for those Christmas symbols has missed the most important point of putting Lord Jesus Christ back into Christmas. He reminded us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, which should be taken more seriously. He added:
"This Sunday we'll be wondering whether there will be further riots. I would have hoped the Prime Minister would speak about how the federal Government can provide initiatives towards the reduction of racial tensions."
But PM Howard had already refused to consider the riots as stemming from racial cause.
An Islamic leader Seyit said:
"What John Howard should be doing is promoting the spiritual aspect of Christmas rather than the external signs. They're good reminders, but they don't call people to issues of tolerance. Jesus is a person of Middle Eastern origin who turned the other cheek, never resorted to violence and promoted tolerance and love.”
Hmmm, I must say I have forgotten that Jesus was, to borrow an American term, a raghead as well, and thus of Middle-Eastern appearance.
Incidentally Jesus is also respected by Muslims as the Prophet Isa. Indonenesian Christians call him Yesus, while the Hebraic name for Jesus is either Yeshu or Yeshus or Yehoshua.
Meanwhile Labor Party leader Kim Beazley put in his political angle by saying the biggest threat to Christmas was the Government's new industrial laws, where a Treasury report to the Federal Treasurer, earlier kept under wraps by the government, revealed that lower income groups would not benefit much. Also, there will be a drop in productivity in the short term as employers hire greater numbers of less efficient workers. All these seem to contradict PM Howard and his Treasurer’s assurance on the effect of the new Industrial relations laws.
However, back to Howard's call for a traditional Christmas - he has support among the Catholic bishops, especially after its Aussie Primate, Sydney Archbishop George Pell has urged for more nativity scenes earlier this month. The spokesman said:
"It's hypocritical to cash in on the commercialisation of gift-giving while ignoring the origins of gift-giving in the original Christmas story as embodied in the nativity scene."
Incidentally, the Christmas tree was originally a pagan ritual, either of Norse pagans and Celtic Druids. One of England’s most devoted Christian, Oliver Cromwell condemned the heathen traditions of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated the sacredness of the birth of Christ. Over in the new colonies of New England (America), In 1659, Massachusetts had a law penalising people for hanging decorations on 25th December.
However, in 1846, after popular Queen Victoria and her German consort posed with their children next to a Christmas tree, the custom caught on and became the tradition that Howard wants back in Australia, even though the Christmas tree had never gone away.
But one of Australia’s most important Christmas tradition, that of the barbeque at the beach won’t be enjoyed this year in Sydney as the public have been advised to stay away from them due to existing racial tension.