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Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy What?



One of Primerrily’s goals is to make civility about old-fashioned kindness and respect as opposed to political correctness. In this four-minute read, we'll share how you can.


As Harvey Mansfield presciently stated in 1991, “Politicization. . . leads to political correctness.” It doesn't take a political philosopher to figure that out. Navigating the verbal tripwires in today’s “politically correct” society can be hard, whether it’s in your kids’ classrooms or in the checkout aisle in the grocery store. No salutation or benediction can be more puzzling than what to say in the month of December. “Happy Holidays” feels vague to many, and staunch conservatives resist “Happy Holidays” out of concern that the Left is seeking to erase Christmas and secularize America. Even some prominent Jews such like Dennis Prager feel insulted when wished “Happy Holidays.” He explains:


“I'm a non-Christian. I'm a Jew. Christmas is not a religious holy day for me. But I'm an American, and Christmas is an American national holiday. Therefore, as an American, it is my holiday — though not my holy day — as much as it is for my fellow Americans who are Christian. It was a Jewish-American, Irving Berlin, who wrote "White Christmas," one of America's most popular Christmas songs. In fact, according to a Jewish musician writing in The New York Times, ‘almost all the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews’ . . . And while on the subject of Jews, here's a question for those Jews disturbed by "merry Christmas": Should Israeli radio and TV stop saying "Shabbat Shalom" to be more inclusive of Israel's non-Jewish minority? It borders on the misanthropic, not to mention the mean-spirited, to want to deny nearly all of your fellow citizens the joy of having Christmas parties or being wished a merry Christmas. By not wishing me a merry Christmas, you are not being inclusive. You are excluding me from one of my nation's national holidays.”


We like Prager’s perspective, but how can a Christmas-celebrator keep the “Christ” in Christmas and still consciously show that “old-fashioned” respect (not political correctness) for the religious plurality among her neighbors?


We at Primerrily like to show respect by doing what we often suggest -- asking a question, by demonstrating genuine interest and warm curiosity in another person. We want to take this opportunity to celebrate the fact that we live in a country where religious freedom and pluralism is a touchstone of our society, not a peripheral matter. We do this, for instance, by asking a question of a friendly stranger who is ringing us up at the store.


We at Primerrily like to show respect by doing what we often suggest -- asking a question, by demonstrating genuine interest and warm curiosity in another person.