The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
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For me, the trouble with this number is that the gayness overrides the Christmasness. This Christmas, we should heed above all the lesson of that Reductio ad Absurdum of the hyphenation era, the O.J. verdict. Encouraging Americans to think of themselves as members of societal sub-groups leads only to the inevitable banality of typecasting. There’s lots of black women on this jury, so will their concerns about racism, as blacks, outweigh their concerns, as women, about spousal abuse? At Columbia Records they used to joke that they liked the Johnny Mathis Christmas album so much they re-released it every year in a different color. Today, we’d be expected to choose Johnny Mathis, like Henry Ford’s Model T, in one color only: black. But Mathis is also gay, so the hyphen junkies would be trying to figure whether they should aim the album at blacks, or gays, or maybe black gays. But if there’s any hope for America, we should all accept—and I quote from the Johnny Mathis Christmas Album, Side 1, Track 7— that some things are “for kids from one to ninety-two”: African American, gay, everybody.
As to the scars of prejudice, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is still the pithiest lesson in overcoming disadvantage. “They discriminated against Rudolph for not being just like every other reindeer in the herd,” observed Life magazine in 1950. “They drew the color line against his nose.” But the editorial also correctly noted why Rudolph was so effective in rising above the deeply ingrained erubescophobia. “The run-of-the-sled reindeer began shouting his praises, not because they really loved Rudolph, but because Rudolph was suddenly a Big Shot.” There’s the most American lesson of all—and far more pertinent to today’s blacks than ujamaa, Kwanzaa’s “cooperative economics.”
In 1966, the same year Kwanzaa was invented, Jerry Herman, composer of Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles, wrote what looks like the last Christmas standard. “I snuck in just in time,” he told me. “We don’t really have Christmas songs anymore and we don’t really have songs that step out of shows and get taken up by jazz singers and country singers. But every year I get another half-dozen different recordings by different artists.” And, in his frail songwriter’s croak, he began to warble:
We need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the hallway
Carols on the spinet…
Well, maybe not the spinet. But we do need a little Christmas. Right this very minute.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?