Clash of values

Broadsides from the pirate captain of the Jet Set

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Liberal columnists, especially in London, New York and Los Angeles, can’t quite grasp why some Christians get upset about people saying ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Happy Christmas’. ‘People who use the word holiday now face angry Christian protests,’ they assert. Well, if they have faced such protests, it’s news to me. Most Christians I know simply snicker when the C-word is avoided in order not to cause offence. What reasonable people get upset about is being forbidden to say Happy Christmas themselves, or call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. Actually, I don’t think I know of a single Christian who rubs his Christianity into non-Christians by wishing a Happy Christmas to a devout or non-devout Muslim or Hindu or Jew. Mind you, it might slip out, but no offence is ever intended. At least I like to think so.

But, let’s face it, non-Western immigrants observe Christmas because we Christians observe it, not because they like it or enjoy it or are expected to. Conversely, when we go to places like India or China or Saudi Arabia, we observe their religious holidays without protest. So don’t look for a Saudi headline asking Muslims not to offend Westerners by not mentioning Ramadan. On the contrary. Yet we Westerners feel that we might offend the people who have come to our shores when we use the C-word. Something very wrong here, as the shrewd detective said. What is even more wrong is the conniption the New York Times had over the commercialisation of Christmas. A jerk by the name of Adam Cohen wrote scathingly in the op-ed page about certain Christian commentators who have asked shoppers to boycott shops which avoid the C-word. What is wrong with that? Cohen might not like the word, but some of us do. Here’s one of the reasons he gave for avoiding Christmas: ‘In 1946, the Rabbinical Assembly of America declared that calling on Jewish children to sing Christmas carols was an infringement of their rights as Americans.’

But America, like Britain, is supposedly a Christian country which allows freedom of religion to everyone, and the price for that freedom is a carol or two on 24 December. No big deal, as far as I’m concerned, but very big to the Big Bagel Times. Never mind. When radical Islam conquers the West, Adam Cohen will no longer have to put up with carols, but he’ll have to bang his head rather hard on the floor five times a day facing Mecca. And there is more good news. The Muslim quarter for the London 2012 Olympics will include a three-storey mosque which will hold 40,000 worshippers, making it the largest mosque in Europe. The greatest capacity of the largest church in England is, of course, something like 3,000, which makes sort of a joke of the Cof E, as well as of a country which calls itself Christian. Just think of it. And shed a tear for someone whose birthday is on 25 December and who gave his life for us.

And now for some good news during the hol, sorry, Christmas. Coming from — where else? — my favourite country, Poland. During the drafting of the European Constitution, which, thank God, sank quicker than the Hood and Bismarck, Poland had taken the lead in pressing for a preamble to refer to Europe’s Christian heritage. The jerks who run our lives decided against it. They would, wouldn’t they? After all, imams, snake-charmers and oriental mystics might not be best pleased. And it gets better. The news, that is. Since the election of President Lech Kaczynski, a defender of family values and a critic of abortion and homosexuality — he has obviously never met my buddy David Furnish — Poland will be on a collision course with Brussels. Poland was the first to fight both the Nazis and the commies, and now will be the first to fight what I consider a more insidious enemy, the Brussels bureaucrooks. This clash of values is as welcome to me as Betty Grable and Ava Gardner walking into my room in 1949 and asking me if they could share my bed.

And my friend Radek Sikorski is a member of this government, to boot. As the Poles have made clear, Europe is a Christian continent and it should be based on a Christian ethic. If snake-charmers, imams and other cosmopolitan mystics don’t like it, they should be given their fare back to wherever they come from. Perhaps they should all be sent to Brussels and forced to eat frites for the rest of their miserable lives. My good Belgian friends, the Lamberts, the Washers and the Limbourg Stirums live outside the city, so to hell with Brussels. Better yet, I think the Poles should invade the place and teach those freeloading assholes some manners. But I am getting carried away. Where is Marshal Poniatowski now that we need him? Where are the Polish lancers who took the Somosierra ridge? Where is my friend Prince Radziwill? (In Gstaad, that’s where.)

I wish every loyal Spectator reader a very Happy Christmas, and, if you happen to be in Brussels, my prayers are with you.