by Jay Johansen | Jan 8, 2008
In the last few years a lot of stores have switched from having "Christmas Sales" to having "Holiday Sales". They say they do this to be "more inclusive" and to avoid offending non-Christians.
Curiously, they do not follow this strategy when they are trying to be inclusive of other groups. When a store wants to be sure that they are racially inclusive and do not offend any ethnic group, they do not do this by refusing to include pictures of black people or hispanics in their advertisements. I have never once heard a store say that they are careful to not include pictures of black people in their advertisements because they don't want to offend racists.
For surely white people in general would not be offended by seeing pictures of black people in the store's ads, modeling the clothes their selling or pushing the lawn mowers or whatever. It would only be extreme racists.
Similarly, I doubt non-Christians in general are offended by hearing the word "Christmas". I'm a Christian and I have never been offended to hear the words "Chanukkah" or "Ramadan". It would only be a tiny number of anti-Christian bigots who would be offended.
Meanwhile, Christians are likely to be offended by what is clearly the deliberate avoidance of the name of their holiday. Just as black people would likely be offended if a store carefully avoided including any pictures of black people in their ads.
The lengths that businesses go to to avoid saying "Christmas" are getting simply silly.
These people are not trying to be "inclusive". Quite the contrary, they are being "exclusive". They are not giving all religions equal honor. They are very carefully and deliberately slighting Christianity by making it clear that they are unwilling to even say the name of the Christian's holiday. If someone started referring to you as "that person" and refused to say your name, wouldn't you take this as an insult? Likewise, when someone says "that holiday in December" and deliberately refuses to say "Christmas", the obvious interpretation is that they are deliberately insulting Christianity.
I can certainly understand that a business that caters to a non-Christian group would talk about that group's holidays and not Christian holidays. I expect producers of kosher food to have Passover sales and sellers of Arabic books to have Ramadan sales and so forth.
But if a company is trying to appeal to the average American, you would think they would at least acknowledge the existence of the holidays celebrated by the average American. I just saw a poll that found that 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas. Of the remaining 4%, I don't have any polls but I strongly suspect that the majority are not offended by the mention of Christmas, but just accept that most Americans celebrate a holiday that they do not. But suppose that fully half of them are intolerant religious bigots. Then these stores are saying that they are going to risk offending 96% of Americans in order to appease 2%. Is this good business sense?
Indeed, a true inclusiveness would also be good business. Stores are always looking for an excuse to have a sale. Instead of trying to leave holidays out, why not add holidays in? Have sales for Christmas and Passover and Ramadan and whatever. Give people more excuses to spend money at your store rather than less.
© 2008 by Jay Johansen