Correct Rhetoric

Merry Christmas! Now, take a minute to compose yourself. You’re not stuck in a bad dream. I did just say “Merry Christmas.” And while we’re on the subject, happy Kwanzaa, happy Eid-al-Adha, happy Hanukkah, and happy Bodhi Day! ? In the generation of Christmahanakwanzika, hearing someone utter a religion-specific greeting such as happy Hanukkah is a rarity. Political correctness dictates that “Happy Holidays” is the appropriate phrase now. “Happy Holidays”: Two words that encompass all festivities or celebrations during the winter holiday season. That seems fair enough. Until you think about it. Defined as “avoidance of expressions or actions that can be perceived to exclude or marginalize or insult people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against” by, to be politically correct is to avoid offending any single person or group of people. But watering down every religious celebration with a generic, one-size-fits-all phrase is, if you think about it, offensive in itself. In a country founded, at least in part, by groups of people seeking the freedom to practice their religions freely, taking away the ability for religious groups to say holiday phrases specific to their religion is wrong. That goes for people practicing any religion or, if one chooses, no religion at all. This diverse tapestry of religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American culture and should not be marginalized, especially not through a practice that aims to do just the opposite. In its most basic form, political correctness is helpful in halting stereotypes and promoting equality. Respecting the views of others is something that everyone can and should strive for. When political correctness is taken to the extreme, however, it becomes problematic. Repetition has an impact on human beings. If we hear something enough times, we’ll begin to believe it. As we are bombarded on all sides by politically correct rhetoric, especially during the holiday season, it subtly becomes second nature. The pendulum of political correctness has swung so far to the side of excess that while sitting in church my pastor wished me a merry Christmas, my first reaction was, “He can’t say that!” Like any good thing, political correctness should be used in moderation. There are times when it is essential. In those instances, one should absolutely be politically correct. That does not mean that it should be allowed to bleed into all facets of life. I should be able to send my friend who celebrates Kwanzaa a card that reads “Merry Christmas” and he should be able to send one in return reading “Happy Kwanzaa” without any concern as to whether we’d be offending each other. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. While reading a wall full of holiday cards at my friend’s house, I counted them up. Out of close to 30 cards, only one had any religion-specific message-“Happy Hanukkah!” How diverse does that tapestry really seem? Zach Merchant is a two-year lower from Lebanon, PA.