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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Philadelphia's Managing Director's Dance: The Christmas Village Fiasco

For an embarrassing twenty-four hours last week, Philadelphia looked pretty silly in the eyes of the nation. It was, as they say, not the city’s finest hour, when a dismissive high level bureaucrat, City Managing Director Richard Negrin, took it upon himself to suggest removing the word ‘Christmas’ from the Christmas Village display in Dilworth Plaza in front of City Hall, and replace it with that all purpose generic word, ‘Holiday.’

The ignoble deed was done in the name of multicultural diversity, or not wanting to offend anyone with the [Jesus Christ-laden] word, ‘Christmas.’ Negrin, for instance (who denies specifically putting out an order to remove ‘Christmas.) stated on November 30 that changing ‘Christmas’ to ‘Holiday’ “is more accurate, makes more sense, and is more in keeping with the sense of the holiday.”

What? The word holiday makes more sense in describing a holiday?

Negrin attempted a retreat when he stated, “I never specifically asked for the word Christmas to be removed.”

There were even news reports of a Jewish father and daughter who wandered into the village whereupon the daughter asked, “Do we have a village?” In yet another media report, it was not a father and daughter, but a father and son.

Meanwhile, after the story broke, a couple of Jewish merchants in the Christmas Village told the news media that they love the word Christmas.

So what was this all about? Who were the complainers, and why don’t they come forward and announce themselves? It isn’t enough to say that they were some people who worked in City Hall, and a few residents.

Whoever they are, they are hiding out till this thing blows over. When the mayor reinstated the word Christmas, the farce seemed to backfire on whoever was responsible because now everywhere you go people are starting to say the word Christmas again. Whether it’s in the pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer or onscreen at Action News, reporters and anchors seem to be taking a special delight in seeing how many times they can say the word, which leads me to conclude that maybe this crisis was necessary to finally flush out the P.C. sewage that’s been kicking Christmas around for years.

City Hall’s P.C. coup took a nose dive, and now it seems that Christmas is here to stay—at least until those clever Holiday SS Storm troopers regroup and come up with another plan. Stay tuned.

In retrospect, I wonder how Negrin and even Mayor Nutter thought they would get away with it. Philadelphians may be apathetic about a lot of things, but you can count on big time blowbacks when you tamper with sports teams, the Mummer’s, cheese steaks, or Christmas.

Let’s face it; whether you’re Jewish, Muslim, atheist, Shinto, or agnostic, the mark that Christianity has left on Western Civilization is all encompassing. Even if you wanted to escape it, you couldn’t. And why stop at eliminating ‘Christmas’ if this fact annoys or upsets you? I mean, to really do the job right you would have to attack other remnants of Christianity that color the secular world.

Like the common calendar, namely the Gregorian calendar, instituted by Pope Gregory XII in a papal bull in the 16th century. This calendar, can be found in a zillion homes all over the world, even has an official nickname-- the Christian calendar.

We live in strange times, so I guess it is entirely possible that years from now there might be a group of people insisting that the world is under no obligation to mark the passage of time according to the invention of some Catholic pope.

As for our (sometimes) waffling mayor, he did a good thing when he restored Christmas despite his remaining firm about the tree in front of City Hall.

He has two names for that tree, holiday tree, or City Hall tree, both of which sound like sad sprigs dug up from behind the old Iron Curtain.

Thom Nickels

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