Saturday 16 December 2017

Trying to "airbrush history"

won't work. It's downright dangerous  in fact. 
I am fed up with people trying to change the flag, change the date, rename holidays, introduce the laws of another culture, and tell me that I must not merely do it but support such things enthusiastically.
Let's start with that "flag" issue. Yes Downunder's flag is rather like another flag just across the pond. Yes, they both have another flag in the corner.  They are both excellent flags. They are inclusive of both the original inhabitants - through the stars - and the incomers - through the other flag in the corner.  In this way they also acknowledge the past, the present, and the future.  People who claim that recent migrants find it offensive might question why people have migrated here. And do you change the colour of the wall paper just because someone who has asked to live with you finds it offensive?
And then there is the date of "Australia Day". I have any number of indigenous friends and acquaintances. They are bemused by the demands to change the date and the renaming of it as "Invasion Day".  "No," they tell me, "it happened. There was a lot more to it than that. You can't change history Let's leave it like it is. Making a  fuss just makes for division."
Yes, there was a lot more to it than I was taught in school. Some good, some bad, a lot mixed. This is not even about being "politically correct". It is simply pot stirring with the flames beneath turned even higher. It is attempting to change not just the way we view history but history itself. 
It is perhaps why the boy in the shop I had to go into yesterday told me, "Happy Holidays". I looked at him and asked, "Do you mean Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year?" Okay, I was pot stirring I suppose but this supposedly politically correct greeting irritates me to the point of wanting to scream. If you don't want to celebrate Christmas or Hanukah, Eid, or Divali or acknowledge the New Year or Hogmanay or whatever then don't say anything please. Don't try and change those things to a meaningless "holidays". As for the boy in the shop (whom I know slightly) he told me, "Merry Christmas - just don't tell the boss I said that."
And if I go to another country then I expect that I will have to abide by the laws of that country. I don't expect them to change those laws just to suit my belief system or cultural background. That's not being "multi-cultural". It's not "respectful". It's simply fracturing society.
We can't be all things to all people.


Anonymous said...

I think it is dangerous to re-write history. We are meant to learn from it!

Some people did awful things for various reasons, responding to conditions as they saw them at the time. Their descendants are not responsible for the ancestors’ actions.

It is difficult to judge others if we know little of their conditions, culture, dangers, fears etc at the time of their actions. I think the survival drive is very strong.


kayT said...

I disagree with you about holidays as a greeting being meaningless. I think it's a great way to cover all the possibilities in a pleasant way. I am not a believer in any religion but I still celebrate various things: the end of days getting shorter and the beginning of them getting longer; the beliefs of others; the season for being happy and treating others well and being generous; a new year coming. Can't I cover all those with "happy holidays" without offending anyone?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Cat and LMcC and disagree with you kayT. To my way of thinking it is far preferable to say, "Happy Divali" (which I do to my immediate neighnours) or "Merry Christmas". It's a means of showing respect for the specific event. You can have a "Happy Holiday" at any time. Bob C-S

Anonymous said...

I was thinking more of the removal of statues, removing “unacceptable” versions of history, etc rather than considering “Seaons’ greetings” which I use as well as “Merry Christmas” etc. Let’s celebrate good things and commemorate those we should learn from and not repeat.

Merry Christmas ! Happy Hanukkah! Season’s greetings. Safe travel! Go well in health!


Anonymous said...

You have summed it up well, Cat!

Jodiebodie said...

With a country that so blatantly changes its habits to accommodate the festival called "Christmas" I see no problem with wishing people a merry Christmas whether one is Christian or not. We all either celebrate it or need to put up with it as it affects our economics, routines and public holidays.

I will be respectful of friends who have other customs and wish them greetings for their customs when they are celebrating them whether it be Hanukah, Eid or something else but when Christmas affects so much in our community, why not acknowledge that? I agree that the non-specific "Happy Holidays" is rather meaningless and I find its blandness offensive!

I think the "Happy Holidays" phrase originated in the Americas where people seem to be super sensitive about their political correctness and personal manners; e.g. people go to the "bathroom" not the "toilet"; there are places where you can order "coffee" or "coffee with cream" but never "black" or "white" coffee like in other places.

If that employee had been instructed by their supervisor to say "Happy Holidays" in fear of offending someone, it wouldn't surprise me if that was filtered down by a multi-national company imposing its foreign cultural values onto our Australian ones. By Australian values, I mean that of being fair and reasonable and respecting other people regardless of their culture without diminishing the significance of values that have traditionally been dominant in our culture like the Christmas season.

I am sure many more Australians would be more tolerant of cultural differences if they weren't expected to water down their own cultural practices to accommodate different ones.