December 24, 2004

More on the C Word

As Joseph Angier astutely points out in his comment on my previous post, it’s questionable how many people of the liberal persuasion really do object to public celebrations of Christmas—but there are some, and those people, it seems to me, provide the right with an easy, and justified, target for satire and scorn.

My support of the widespread and cheerful use of the word “Christmas” is not just a gesture of ecumenicism, it’s a protest against euphemism. A euphemism is always a coverup. Where there’s euphemism, there’s dishonesty. And to say “holiday” when the whole world knows you’re referring to Christmas is to engage in an especially silly kind of euphemism.

There are far too many people on the left who spend far too much of their time trying to compel others to use the approved euphemisms, and trying to invent new euphemisms to press upon the public. People who are seriously worried about whether other people are saying “autistic” or “person with autism” need to turn their attention to something else, if for no other reason than that the approved catchwords will probably change next year.

The euphemists practice a kind of sanctimony which is offputting to people in the center. I’m convinced it’s a large part of what moderate and conservative people visualize when they visualize a liberal: someone who is constantly trying to force a petty, humorless conformity upon us all.

Among other things, this loses us votes. And after this past November, we should have that foremost in mind.

And wouldn’t this be a better, saner country if left and right alike turned more of their attention to pragmatic issues instead of symbolic ones?