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December 20, 2003

Hindrocket at Power Line has a good post on the type of faux-inclusiveness that will plague the entire election cycle; for the moment, it's limited to the Dean campaign, but it will spread like the common cold and in the end be just about as dangerous. For those who know a bit about the history and ideals of Kwanzaa, seeing the Dean campaign making fools out of themselves by associating their candidate with this Marxist-inspired celebration provides ironic amusement, if nothing else. Kwanzaa itself is harmless enough, although contrived.

It does remind me of our first Christmas season in Minnesota six years ago. My son went to a local middle school, along with the kids of my best friend, who had moved out here a few years before. The two families attended the holiday musical celebration at the school, where the student bands and choirs performed for their families and fellow students. Even under the best of circumstances, these tend to be exercises in humor but are part of the holiday fun.

At this particular celebration, however, it became apparent that school administration was determined to be as inclusive as possible. The presentation included a few traditional Chanukkah songs, accompanied by two separate explanations of the Jewish holiday. We were treated to no fewer than five explanations of Kwanzaa, none of which included the criminal history of its founder, and a number of Kwanzaa songs to go along with the lessons. However, during the entire performance, not one explanation of Christmas was presented, and not one religious Christmas carol was sung by the choirs. Instead, the children performed songs like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Winter Wonderland".

It gets worse.

Towards the end of this display of inclusiveness, a parody of tunes were sung by the 8th-grade choir, of the theme of "Holidays Around The World". Children sang satires of popular Christmas songs in comic accents of Russians, Italians, Germans, et al. One of the final stanzas focused on Asia, and the choir sung it in an embarrassing pidgin English with squinted eyes, bowing frantically during the entire verse. It was enough to make Mickey Rooney's shameful performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's look like Toshiro Mifune. I looked around the gymnasium and saw people of Asian ancestry staring slack-jawed at this spectacle, and people's eyes darting back and forth with shocked looks on their faces. The only one enjoying it was the school principal, who had a big smile on her face, sitting in the front row a few seats away from us.

Being the quiet and retiring person I am, I turned to my best friend and said, "So the lesson is that we welcome everyone to our PC celebration except you Chinks over there?" I got more laughs from the audience around us than the choir did with its song and earned a huge, disapproving scowl from the principal. (I also got one from my wife, but at that point I was so fed up I didn't care.) It was a display I would have expected in my native California but was stunned to see in Minnesota.

The true lesson is that people who try that hard to demonstrate "inclusiveness" usually have something to hide, and while appeasing the electorate with meaningless paeans to meaningless holidays is harmless, it does tell you something about the person doing it. They'd rather try to be all things to all people rather than just be themselves and let others alone, because eventually they will demand that you honor their traditions as well as your own. That's what I learned from my Night of the Living Kwanzaa, and I'm not likely to forget it.

Addendum: My wife would like you to know that her scowl indicated her disapproval of my [loud] vocal disgust with the program, and not an indication that she disagreed with me. Just so you know.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 20, 2003 12:58 PM

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