It was C.S. Lewis who made the observation about the "modern" and "scientific" mindset that if one continued to "see through everything," one ends up "seeing nothing at all," and that there must needs be, at some point, some opacity if one is to see anything at all. Were he alive today, he perhaps might have expanded that observation into a corollary: if one continues on a path of prohibitions, erasures, and cancellations in order to not offend someone, one will end in a place where one offends everyone.
Such seems to be the case with this little story out of New Jersey, where a local school board has decided to offend no one and may have ended by offending everyone (our thanks to K.S. and C.A.F. for sharing this story):
That's right, the Randolph Board of Edgykayshun, in the latest folly to come out of Amairikuhn quackademia, has decided to erase mention of all specific holidays:
Members of a New Jersey school board may have thought they were ending a controversy over woke holiday renaming by removing all holiday names from the district's official calendar. Instead, parents are calling for them to resign.
The Change.org petition, which was launched against members of the Randolph Board of Education on Friday evening, met its initial goal of 1,000 signatures on Saturday evening. Randolph Township resident Thomas Tatem said that by replacing all holiday names on the school calendar with the words “day off,” the board members “disgraced our community and clearly do not have the best interests of our children in anything they do.”
The new school policy, which was unanimously approved by the board on Thursday, meant that every holiday – from Christmas to Memorial Day to Thanksgiving to Yom Kippur – will appear on the calendar as “day off.”
The controversy stems from a decision by the board last month to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day. Christopher Columbus, the 15th century Italian explorer credited with discovering the Americas, is one of many historical figures whose legacy has been under attack in recent years because of conduct or views that are found objectionable under present-day standards of political correctness.
And that's the problem, because under the rubrics of political correctness, and to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins wildly out of context, absolutely no one, at no time, in any place, was ever perfect enough for "political correctness." There will be no end of this other than in sheer lunacy: Union Major General Joseph Hooker or 16th century Anglican bishop Richard Hooker will have to be "re-surnamed" to avoid offense to the female of the species, Robert E. Lee will have to be "re-surnamed" because his last name is pronounced the same as the Chinese surname Li, and Chinese people might be offended at being associated with the Confederate General. Lord Cornwallis will have to go, because his name doesn't begin to be inclusive enough to Indigenous Americans who gave Europeans "corn", and should be renamed to "Lord Maizewallis". We probably shouldn't speak of the Iriquois confederation any more either, because that might conjure bad associations with Jefferson Davis.
On and on it goes.
Now, I don't know about you, but it seems to be that all this might be a bit self-defeating... for the left. I'm not the slightest bit offended if, opening my date book, I see such and such a day marked as "the beginning of Yom Kippur" or "the beginning of Ramadan" or "the beginning of Lent" or whatever. I have a passing familiarity with all of them, and it's helpful to know if I'm suddenly not seeing emails in my boxes from friends named Mohammed or Noah or Patrick. "Oh... that's why" I might think to myself.
My point is, that by entirely erasing the "offending" day, one is also erasing a golden opportunity to teach: Columbus discovered the New World? That's a good thing. He had a low view of American Indians? That's a bad thing. As a result of his discoveries, the Spanish put an end to human sacrifice in Meso-America and Mexico? That's a good thing (even though it might have "offended" the cultures practicing those things). The indigenous populations were treated horribly by the Spanish viceroys? That's a bad thing.
And so on.
In a "multi-cultural" society like the USA, the end result of canceling any specific sub-culture for fear (note the word) of offending someone can only be that everyone ends up "offended" and no one culture is ever acknowledged for any good or bad contribution it made have made. Everyone is omitted, for all have sinned. And when societies cannot confront the good and ill in their chosen heroes, but rather choose to ignore and rewrite the record to fit some ideological and unobtainable, graceless perfection, they wither and die. Should we get rid of "President's day" because Abraham Lincoln held extraordinarily racist views? Should Russia completely erase that little "hiccup" called Communism, and all its adherents, from its history - blot out the names of Lenin, Trotsky, Orzhonokidze, Yagoda, Beria, Stalin, Khrushchev et al from its textbooks - because it might offend someone or because these people were lunatic genocidal maniacs who emplaced and perpetuated one of the most inhuman and anti-human totalitarianisms that ever existed? If they did, they - and anyone else not familiar with the record - would be unable to understand Russia now, and why it is carefully turning its back on that period, without trying to completely erase it.
Such views and practices are bad for everyone, because they prevent societies and cultures from confronting their mistakes and correcting them. It's in the confession and repentance of sin that genuine spiritual and cultural progress is made, not in its complete erasure.The "total erasure" is a demonic, not divine, "forgetting," enabling one to move from one vice to the next with perfect abandon. For the most part, one can only confess and repent of something that one remembers. And what is true for individuals is, in this case I suggest, even more true of societies. Completely erase the history, and one completely erases the bad along with the good, and prepares the ground for complete and total viciousness.
See you on the flip side...