I just thought this was silly. http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/biztech/12/12/microsoft.swastika.reut/index.html
It’s not silly at all. It’s called subversion. hhp
ADL Press release — http://www.adl.org/PresRele/Mise_00/4427_00.htm Wired News on Wingdings — http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,47042,00.html
Maybe MS has a Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice ninja squad on the case.
The glyph set of the oﬀending font: Mainly symbols for phonetic transcription of Asian languages, and a few odds and ends. The Star of David is ironic.
Ironic? More like de rigueur. hhp
German dictator Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the symbol of the Nazi Party because of its nationalist identiﬁcation, according to the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights group. Boy this Jewish human rights group has made some important historical discovery. I thought Hitler was dead. I trust these people have not spent the last 60 years hiding in some Dutch attic.
I can’t tolerate people that think tolerance is something everyone else but themselves should possess. In this, as in so much else, Jews are held to a diﬀerent standard. Apparently they must tolerate everything, even people who are sworn to kill them. And if Israel does what any other country would do in response to 50 years of continuous attack by multiple self-proclaimed enemies, then they are called ‘Nazis’. When the Nazis began their persecution of the Jews in Germany and then in other European countries, had the Jews sworn to push the Germans into the sea? Had the Jews declared that Germany had no right to exist? Had the Jews repeatedly launched multiple armies against Germany? Had the Jews conducted decades of terrorist campaign against German civilians? Maybe while you’re visiting the Weisenthal website looking for reasons to gag, you should read some of it. Start here, look at every panel, read every quote, and then stop spouting rubbish. I agree entirely that the swastika symbol per se shouldn’t be always and everywhere villiﬁed, and that we need to understand and acknowledge the diﬀerent contexts in which it has been used and continues to be used. See my comments at Typographica. But ‘gagging’ at the thought of ‘international Jewish human rights group’ is just plain old antisemitism: sad, sick and stupid.
That straw man is in bad shape, huh.
antisemitism “Semitic: 1 a member of a group of caucasoid peoples who speak a Semitic language, including the Jews and the Arabs as well as ancient Babaloynians, Assyrians, and Phoenicians.” Buy yourself an Oxford. But for the record John, it was I that was responsible for turning in Lutjens to face trial for war crimes. He was, and I believe still is, the only Nazi war criminal to ever be deported from Canada, of which our country had many. I had letters to and from prominent Natzi’s continuing through, and many years after the war. I had a bizarre photo journal compiled by Lutjens for his personal ﬁles. Many of him and Aldolf Hitler. Other pictures caused me personal grief. I became seriously depressed for several years. I nearly took my own life. It was very hard on the family. Also I have had two partners who were Jews. One who is one of my very closest friends. One of the only friends that came to stay with me in Prince Edward Island. I am not what you say at all. Coming from you I am even more greatly insulted. Anyone who knows me would never accuse me of anti-Semitism. Especially in the ignorant usage of this word.
Gerald, I generally don’t accuse people of antisemitism*, because often the people who make antisemitic statements have no clue that what they are saying belongs to an established anti-Jewish discourse. Your statements seemed to me be antisemitic. Criticising the policies and actions of the Israeli government is not antisemitism; calling them ‘Nazis disguised as Jews’ is. Gagging at the combination of ‘human rights organisation’ with ‘Jewish’ looks like an antisemitic reaction whether it is consciously intended as such or not. I’m not singling your statements out, Gerald; over on Typographica we had Hrant evoking the stock antisemitic international Jewish conspiracy theory with his ‘dark undercurrents of international lobbying’, and his bizarrely veiled references to a ‘party’ and ‘people’ with an agenda (whose ‘tool’ I apparently am because I disagree with Hrant); again, I don’t think Hrant is necessarily intending to be antisemitic, but he is using terms and evoking ideas that belong to that discourse. * In the sense in which the term is clearly and unambiguously understood by pretty much everyone. The insistence on the dictionary deﬁnition of Semite to negate the use of the term antisemitic is itself a well documented strategy of antisemites, who seek to deny the unique historical phenomenon of antisemitism in European culture. Other forms of European racism — anti-Black racism for example — are no less ugly and indefensible, but they are of a diﬀerent character (in large part because they have not developed over almost 2000 years and are not so ingrained — so ingrained that even people who do not consider themselves antisemtic hold Jews to standards that do not apply to any other peoples). The term antisemitism has been used to describe this phenomenon for a long time: when 19th century racialists wrote about ‘the Semite’ they meant a Jew. Individuals may, more accurately, be anti-Jewish, but their statements — and even the statements of people who do not consider themselves anti-Jewish — are likely to belong to a long tradition, and that is what we call antisemitism.
>Buy yourself an Oxford. …the ignorant usage of this word [anti-Semitism]. “Anti-Semite …n. a person hostile to or prejudiced against Jews. …adj. anti-Semitism.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1992).
While they’re at it, maybe they could remove that piece of Christian propaganda, cleverly named a “dagger,” from their fonts. And for those parts of the world with an aversion to the present US administration, alphabets with no “W.”
William, You, and they are just going to have to be a little more speciﬁc. ……….. Is Judaism a race? If you were to say so, most Jews would think you were an antisemite! ………. A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism. ……… It is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do. A person born to non-Jewish parents who has not undergone the formal process of conversion but who believes everything that Orthodox Jews believe and observes every law and custom of Judaism is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal movements of Judaism, and a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like other religions, and being Jewish is like a citizenship. See What Is Judaism? ………………… In the 1980s, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Jews are a race, at least for purposes of certain anti-discrimination laws. Their reasoning: at the time these laws were passed, people routinely spoke of the “Jewish race” or the “Italian race” as well as the “Negro race,” so that is what the legislators intended to protect. But many Jews were deeply oﬀended by that decision, oﬀended by any hint that Jews could be considered a race. The idea of Jews as a race brings to mind nightmarish visions of Nazi Germany, where Jews were declared to be not just a race, but an inferior race that had to be rounded up into ghettos and exterminated like vermin. But setting aside the emotional issues, Jews are clearly not a race. http://www.jewfaq.org/judaism.htm#Nation
John, When I support these groups does that make me anti-semitic, http://www.jatonyc.org/ http://www.eccmei.net/j/ http://www.eccmei.net/j/links.html
Gerald, I admire your work at Lanston, but you are embarassing yourself by speaking angrily on matters where you are ignorant and misinformed. You contemptuously spoke of John being ‘ignorant’ in his usage of ‘anti-Semitic’ and said he could ‘buy an Oxford’, when in fact the Concise Oxford conﬁrms exactly his correct usage. Many of your other comments are just as wildly wrong. Please read those who are debunking the anti-Semitic lies and incitement that you have been reading, before you post further.
This whole thing just seems silly and wrong in many ways. How can Microsoft believe that by removing the swastika from a typeface that they are doing the world any sort of good? It’s just denying a part of the past, one that in my opinion should not be forgotten. Probably the next step would be to photoshop out any sign of a swastika from their photos in Encarta. I actually read a newspaper article a long time ago, where a teacher was demanding that the school board remove all photographs of Hitler and especially any photo with a swastika in it as supposedly they promote hate crimes. Now, maybe I just had teachers with a diﬀerent sense of the cirriculum, but I remember WWII being explained as a dark time for humanity, not a promotion for Nazis. In short, as soon as we start to forget or wash over things that have happened in the past that we did not like, they are bound to happen again. If Microsoft is so worried about people’s reaction to the swastika, then why not start an education program on what the swastika means and why it should not be forgotten instead of erasing a very important part of world history?
Myke, Ahoy, and more silly is the fuss these people get themselves into. Name calling. You know something, when I was young they used to sing a song. sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. Mike, that’s a lie, name calling hurts. It’s just plain mean spirited. Absolutely no reason for incorrectly branding people. Particularly friends. I mean read about this jerk. http://history.freeyellow.com/mccarthy.htm The word anti-semitism used on innocent people symbolizes for me something far worse than the swastika. After all the ‘evil’ swastika is a symbol for a defunct political organization run by a crack-pot dictator, who now, thankfully, is dead. Unfortunately he was a great teacher. He used the same propaganda techniques as those that use the word “anti-semitism” to silence protest. To win argument at cost of human dignity or common respect. Thank you from saving me. I have been held hostage by mobbish bullies. Sometimes I wonder who wears the sheets. I appreciate that. You know, I was just thinking I didn’t have a friend in the world and then you came along. I think the whole thing with Microsoft is silly. I ﬁnd it unimaginable they could have missed that by accident. I do not believe that there was any nasty intentions for their inclusions however. I see no reason for over reacting. But I imagine some one used the anti-semitism word on them. Silly, although the right thing to do, to provide a tool for removal. However the problem I see is that the only people who will use it are the same people that would not hit the Swastika Key in the ﬁrst place. It is kind of like taking the guns from the good guys and giving them to the bad. But still, Microsoft has done the right thing, no matter how silly it is. Anything is better than been accused of anti-semitism.
Gerald, you’re just not getting it, are you? Read my last message again. I’m not calling you an antisemite: I’m saying that your statements read as antisemitic because whether you realise it or not you are using phrases and ideas that belong to an establish antisemitic discourse. Remember, for 1600 years almost every statement about Jews by non-Jews has been negative and inciteful. In that context, you can’t simply open your mouth and trot out statements like ‘Nazis disguised as Jews’ and not have it sound antisemitic, whatever your actual intent. All I’m saying is that you — and me, and everyone else — needs to be very careful and very speciﬁc in our language. Anything is better than been accused of anti-semitism. Is antisemitism better than being accused of antisemitism? I’m not interested in ‘silencing protest’ or ‘winning arguments at any cost’. I’m interested in you realising what your actual statements convey to people, rather than what you might think or hope they convey.
There was some discussion of this topic on the Unicode list this morning, including this comment from Paul Nelson at MS Typography: This probably would have not been an issue if it were in a font that would normally use the character, like in the SimSun font for Chinese. The symbol font had neither cultural context, nor correct Unicode mappings. I believe that our action was the right thing to do in this case. There are no plans to remove the characters from fonts where there is cultural context with Unicode mappings. In other words, much as I suggested on Typographica, the issue is one of interpretational context. Perhaps that’s the last thing that needs to be said on this silly topic?
When the Nazis began their persecution of the Jews in Germany and then in other European countries, had the Jews sworn to push the Germans into the sea? Had the Jews declared that Germany had no right to exist? Had the Jews repeatedly launched multiple armies against Germany? Had the Jews conducted decades of terrorist campaign against German civilians? John, this is a preposterous and feeble excuse for genocide. The murder of innocent Palestinian civilians and children. One would think you could do better than oﬀer rhetorical questions to justify such a moral disgrace.
This thread has gone from a comment about a symbol to an anger management session. I was riding my bike in Central Park today in a Noreaster (Snow) and The road runners club had a running race that was going to start soon, my riding buddy and I came to 90th street on the east side and the runners were blocking the whole road walking to the start/ﬁnish my friend Jose asked a runner to move over to allow us to pass and he went balistic, we just rode away and I remarked how he must of just had a ﬁght with his wife or kids, that his anger had nothing to do with us but with his own issues — we just happened to be there. My point is stop this bickering take a deep breath and lets understand that no matter how much you think you are right, someone else has another opinion. I don’t spend my engery being angry on my bike I have to use that energy to peddle it.
I certainly can’t defend everything Gerald is spewing, but the emotions in him have a reason. And why is there so much of this emotion in the world? People don’t hate for the fun of it — they hate when they see injustice. The fact is, the Star of David symbolizes qualitatively the same thing to Palestinians as the Swastika does to Jews. And not just to Palestinans. There is graﬃti the world over (including one I saw in Halkidiki, Greece, last year) saying things like “$ + Star_of_David = Swastika”. But the Star of David stays in the font. Don’t kid yourselves, children — your world is not some clean, orderly, just and fair place. Amd it’s becoming increasingly the opposite under the powers that be. This is what proud Westerners like John will prevent you from seeing, since it dessimates their coping mechanism. BTW, John, your standard “you sound anti-semitic” escape clause is spineless, and you know it. — Nazi Germany, Israel. Like father, like son. hhp
I’m sure they remember the time when conspiracy nuts found that typing “NYC” in Wingdings yielded “death, Star of David, thumbs up” which of course had to be a secret subliminal message saying it’s good to kill Jews in New York. I think Apple actually rearranged the font to appease the Anti-Defamation League. So I can see why Microsoft, upon ﬁnding an actual swastika in their software, would excrete masonry.
Moderator: I would request that you move the last three posts to the non-typographic thread, where those who wish to can continue these issues.
How convenient. The same pattern of censorship, from the same source. Joe, don’t forget to remove that censorship request too, so the chances people will realize what’s really going on goes down even more. hhp
Maybe it’s time to move this over to the non-typographic thread. There is graﬃti the world over (including one I saw in Halkidiki, Greece, last year) saying things like “$ + Star_of_David = Swastika”. But the Star of David stays in the font. What do you think was meant by the Star of David in that graﬃto? Israel or Judaism? If the latter, are you saying that the Star of David should be removed from the Bookshelf 7 symbol font because it may oﬀend antisemites? There is a massive rise in antisemitism in the world, and Israel’s existence and actions seem to me more an excuse than a cause. The plight of the Palestinian people is being used to legitimise hatred of Jews that is not new, is not a result of the situation in the Middle East, but is the same old cancer of hatred that has characterised European attitudes to Jews for centuries. I happen to think that it is perfectly possible to criticise the Israeli government and security forces, identify Ariel Sharon as the war criminal that he is, oppose the building of settlements in the occupied territories, favour the existence of a Palestinian state, etc. without accepting even a whiﬀ of antisemitism. Hrant, I am not being spineless in recognising a distinction between the expressions people use and their intent, especially in this emotional and historically charged discussion. Trust me, if I came to the conclusion that you actually are an antisemite, I wouldn’t hold back from saying so. As a Catholic, I encounter antisemitism on a depressingly regular basis, most often from people who don’t even realise that they are being antisemitic. They’ve simply grown up in a culture that has 1600+ years of ingrained prejudice behind it, and in a Church that has a long and problematic relationship with Judaism (despite the recent Vatican teachings against antisemitism). So maybe I’m particularly sensitive, but when I see careless language concerning Jews I’m very aware of how that is received by many people: with a nod and as a conﬁrmation of their prejudices, and as a very hurtful threat against the security and lives of Jewish people. I don’t have a problem with anyone being critical of Israeli policies — I even accept arguments about whether the state of Israel should exist as legitimate debate —, but please, people, be careful how you phrase things and don’t let your protestations be fuel for hatred of Jews. That’s all.
>that censorship request On what planet is posting on a diﬀerent thread censorship? People earlier wanted to have the choice of not getting politics along with their typography e-mails from Typophile. That seems to me reasonable.
John: I’d much rather spend the time pointing out the fatal ﬂaws in your Hebrew fonts. William: Treating me like a dunce will make your situation less manageable. hhp
John, I understand that there is antisemetism in the world, but relating this back to the entire idea of this discussion, do you honestly believe that by removing the swastika from the font will stop any antisemitism. It is my belief that the only way you will ever stop this form of persecution is by exposing it and making people aware of it. By removing the swastika, Microsoft has only swept another element under the rug, and this cannot be seen as a step forward against anti-semetism. Rather, this has hindered the cause, as people are able to make not thinking about this topic that much easier. Only when people become comfortable with and undertstand the meaning of the words Jewish, Jew, Nazi, etc. and the visual symbols that go along with them will people actually be moving in the right direction. By the way, I might be wrong when I’m saying this, but I don’t believe the Hrant was saying that he thinks that the Star of David should be removed, he was just using this to show the fallacy of Microsoft’s removal. Sorry if I interpreted it wrong, but whether or not he meant it that way, I whole-heartedly do.
> By removing the swastika, Microsoft has > only swept another element under the rug 1) In fact the whole point is that a font helps communication — it’s just a tool, and should be left out of politics. In a good society, those trying to facilitate their politics through manipulations like this would be outed, lambasted, ridiculed, punished. But the opposite is happening. Just try to ﬁnd an American news source with a shred of journalistic integrity for example. 2) MS was coerced (yes, scary) into doing it. Because the point isn’t even the symbol, the point is to reinforce the perception of who’s the boss, to build the necessary behavior in every corner so as to use it to your beneﬁt as needed. Terrorism of the psyche. — The application of power with no regard for fairness. That is what makes so much of the world boiling mad. It doesn’t matter how old or new it is. If you don’t want people ﬂying planes into your buildings, you either have to exterminate all of them, or stop making them so angry. Choose. hhp
Yet to have coﬀee. My complaint with the Jewish Human Rights Organization is the dismal record of the State of Israel. I will refrain from posting any links because there are far to many. But I use the UN as my standard. Theirs and the complaints made by “many” other human rights organizations. I know people think “human rights organizations” are just a bunch of “zannies”. As you can see I made the same mistake about the Museum of Tolerance. Anyway, it’s a bad habit to think human rights organization are run by zannies. Especially democratic zannies that lectures on human rights issues to developing nations on a regular basis, including China. So that been the case, it should be alright to complain about human rights abuses in places such as Israel where their isn’t any. Hence the gag comment, sorry it was so distracting. Maybe I am too unkind. Maybe that is what the Jewish Human Rights is all about. It is only for the Jews. I don’t know, sure looks that way to me. I happen to think that it is perfectly possible to criticise the Israeli government and security forces, identify Ariel Sharon as the war criminal that he is, oppose the building of settlements in the occupied territories, favour the existence of a Palestinian state, etc. without accepting even a whiﬀ of antisemitism. John. You are aware that comments like that can make you a pretty unpopular chap. Someone might call you uninformed, or stupid. Or worse. Trust me you don’t want worse. ‘Nazis disguised as Jews’ Well, I suppose that is hurtful, some think hateful but not as hurtful and hateful as what is happening in Palestine. But I have decided to put John’s proposal to test. John is a nice fellow that knows nothing, it would seem, about Oxymorons. I do not believe you can criticize Israel without the result of hideous accusations. That appears to be part of the “Washington Lobby Spin”. Do I sound cynical? Good because I am, it comes by me honestly? I am a realist. But here goes the “new me”. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?ﬁle=/news/archive/2003/04/05/international1840EST0687.DTL&type=printable The Belgian Senate on Saturday approved a measure gutting a war crimes law, bringing an end to lawsuits ﬁled against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon, terrorist and responsible for genocide. Unfortunately when you get rid of the court, you don’t get rid of the accusation. That’s the beauty of the system. You never get to clear your name. Selective genocide. Isn’t democracy fun? Listen to the Harps of America. “Using the law to target democratic countries was not the intent,” of the law, Destexhe said Only dictators should be persecuted for genocide! Is it OK if I gag now? Did Hitler ever win any elections? I think he did. Back oﬀ William, I am on your side here, remember, I really don’t like Genocide. Unfortunately for some, I am not prejudiced about my complaint. I am not very complex. I do not approve of racism. I do not approve of murder. I do not appove of war. I do not approve of genocide. I believe freedom of religion is sacred. On the latter I have no choice, my God is the ‘very remarkable consular Pooh Bah, consul for the entire planet’ who by more than coincidence was helpful in Jerusalem. When I die I get to go to Spain. Did you hear thunder? Oh God, strike me now Consular! Yup, I am as Koo-koo as a Christian, but Koo-koo’s have rights too. The law, adopted unanimously in 1993, seeks to prosecute war crimes and genocide wherever they occur. It is unique in that, through the principle of “universal jurisdiction” it extends the reach of Belgium’s courts to complaints against people and by people with no direct link to the country. That law has been revoked to accommodate the “atrocities inﬂicted by so called modern democracy”. Here is modern democracy. http://www.palestinemonitor.org/gallery/Black_and_white_photo_collection.htm By the way William, do the Palestinians on the other side of the Jewish Apartheid Wall get to vote? Or is that a rhetorical question? Swastika’s are not good for the European soul. More later.
John, I understand that there is antisemetism in the world, but relating this back to the entire idea of this discussion, do you honestly believe that by removing the swastika from the font will stop any antisemitism. It is my belief that the only way you will ever stop this form of persecution is by exposing it and making people aware of it. Sigh. I never said that removing the swastika from the MS fonts would achieve anything. In fact, I never related MS’s decision, not once, to the issue of antisemitism. I only mentioned antisemitism when I saw statements in this thread that appeared to me to be antisemitic: as you say, the way to combat antisemitism is to expose it and make people aware of it. I do agree with Paul Nelson from MS that the context in which characters are used is important, and that there was no good reason for the Bookshelf 7 font to contain the swastika (nor the Star of David, for that matter, but I don’t accept the parallel between the two symbols that Hrant is trying to make on Typographica), and that without a clear context justifying inclusion of such contentious symbols it is best to remove them.
John, I don’t know if you have read anything about the crusades but my God “the mysterious consul for the entire planet” a very remarkable mysterious Pooh
Subversion is what the Nazi’s wanted too.
I added the cross back when it was suggested that those who opposed the attack on Iraq might add something ‘peace’ related to their Typophile picture. I’m not a 100% paciﬁst — peace, yes, but not at any cost —, and I don’t much like the ‘peace symbol’ (actually the old CND logo). So the cross is there in remembrance of the people who were being killed: in my religion one of the roles of the cross is as a memorial sign. So there’s your interpretational context.
in my guestbook, someone once wrote that they didn’t like “nazi glorifying fonts”. what do you suppose they meant? -amy, l’abecedarienne
Must be the Dürer stuﬀ. That sickle. Commie, nazi, same diﬀerence, right? It’s all UNAMERICAN!! But that retard just gave me a brilliant idea: Make a swastiska in ASCII art using Comic Sans, then change the font to something where you can’t tell what it is any more. Then email it to the JDL and tell them to change the font to Comic Sans to see the hidden MS message. Ban Comic Sans lives!! hhp
Blackletter? Of course, the Nazis outlawed blackletter once they realized that using it might make world domination just a little harder. It was suddenly “discovered” to be “Jewish.” T
I added the cross back when it was suggested that those who opposed the attack on Iraq might add something ‘peace’ related to their Typophile picture … So the cross is there in remembrance of the people who were being killed: in my religion one of the roles of the cross is as a memorial sign. So there’s your interpretational context. While, once explained, the context is clear, do you agree that on the surface it could appear in a somewhat diﬀerent light to an Islamic Typophile reader? Particularly with Mr Bush talking of ‘crusades’ (at the time). In the same way you have stated that certain comments may appear antisemitic (their true intention irrelevant to their interpretation) will you concede that your cross sends out a rather medieval message, regardless of your honourable intentions? Jordan
Isn’t it a sans dagger? (Wait a second, John’s a Bauhaus assassin?! ;-) hhp
In the same way you have stated that certain comments may appear antisemitic (their true intention irrelevant to their interpretation) will you concede that your cross sends out a rather medieval message, regardless of your honourable intentions? No, I don’t concede it at all, since the cross is the central emblem of Christianity, not of particular historic events of the mediaeval period, let alone the fumbled words of a twit like George Bush. Would I be oﬀended if a Muslim Typophile included the crescent moon in his picture? No, not at all, despite the fact that Muslim armies assaulted Christian lands in the Middle East and Europe for a heck of a lot longer than the crusades lasted. I don’t see the crescent moon and think of all those centuries of religious warfare, and more than I think of a couple of decades of Israeli history when I see the Star of David. However, I am oﬀended by the suggestion that, in the name of not oﬀending other religions, we should supress all public religious expression. In my experience, only secularists and atheists actually propose and beneﬁt from such policies, and their aim is not harmony between religions but the destruction of religion.
But don’t some religions include the destruction of others? How do you reconcile everything? I’m neither an atheist nor in favor of supressing religious expression, but I do think religion is a very personal thing, and as such doesn’t beneﬁt by things like sending missionaries to Kabul. Your cross is ﬁne to me, because it’s something sincere from you; but many “formal” aspects of many establishments of religions are not — they’re about controlling others. hhp
Some superb coverage of symbolism: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3320237.stm — Every year, in the shopping malls of America -the real classrooms of this society- the menorahs get bigger and the christmas trees get smaller… and still not a whiﬀ of a crescent anywhere. I personally don’t mind the menorahs — I mind people not noticing. Equality of religion. Just that some religions are more equal than others. I can’t change the reality of human nature, but at least I can point it out. And I wonder how long the poor snowman will last as Santa’s replacement. Neutrality is only useful to the rich when it’s a transition to more authority. hhp
I mind the menorahs. I mind the syndrome that makes western Christians so uncomfortable with the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas, that they need to see other religions’ winter holidays as simply alternate ﬂavors of Christmas. I mind the menorahs because they say, “Chanukah is the Jewish Christmas,” which relieves anyone of the burden of actually ﬁnding out what Chanukah really is, or of dealing with the ambiguity of religious variety. I mind the menorahs because they are another way of marginalizing those who don’t celebrate Christmas or Chanukah.
Exactly. Neo-fascism. hhp
> simply alternate ﬂavors of Christmas. That’s a very good point. There’s something about the conﬂuence of the dates (as well as the moving of Christmas from January 6 to December 24) that needs delving into. For example, when Kwanzaa was invented, why was the date of December 26 chosen? And why do the Armenian Olympics in the US happen over the 4th of July weekend? hhp
… dealing with the ambiguity of religious variety. This is a very good phrase. Between totally supressing all religious expression and seeking to destroy all religions except your own is a huge area of genuine respect for other persons and their beliefs. Most religious people I know occupy this area, and accept the struggle of showing love and compassion while not glossing over the real disagreements and incompatibilities of one set of beliefs with another. I mind the syndrome that makes western Christians so uncomfortable with the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas. I think you are misinterpreting the phenomenon. I don’t think Christians are uncomfortable with not everyone celebrating Christmas: in fact, a lot of observant Christians participate very little in the popular Christmas celebration. I do think that the shops and other businesses that rely on Christmas for huge consumer spending are uncomfortable about people not celebrating, and not celebrating by spending. This is why every year Christmas becomes less and less about the nativity of Christ, and an increasingly generalised ‘Holiday Season’. Last year was something of a nadir in Canada, with many municipalities not putting up Christmas trees or calling them ‘Winter Trees’. [To his great credit, the Jewish mayor of Toronto said ‘This is silly: it’s a Christmas tree and that’s what we’re going to call it’.] I don’t like this silliness because I don’t like the Orwellian distortion of it and the subversion of religious festivals by consumer capitalism. I’d rather there were no popular holiday celebration at all: I would still go to Mass on Christmas Eve, and my Jewish friends would still go to the synagogue during Chanukah. The irony of Chanukah being the Jewish component, as it were, of the syncretic secular holiday season is that the Maccabees were ﬁghting against syncretism and ecumenism.
…as well as the moving of Christmas from January 6 to December 24… Hrant, the date of Christmas wasn’t moved from January 6th: the whole calendar was realigned. January 6th in the Gregorian calendar is December 24th in the Julian calendar. On January 6th, the Roman Church will be celebrating the Epiphany, while the Armenian and other Eastern Churches will be celebrating Epiphany on … Janury 6th in the Julian calendar (i.e. January 19th in the Gregorian). It only gets really confusing with moveable feasts: I remember asking a Greek Orthodox how they calculated the date of Easter, to which he replied that he wasn’t sure ‘but it probably has something to do with not ending up on the same day as the Catholics’.
I haven’t studied the history of this, but I’ve been told by those who seemed to know that the Dec 25 date was part of the compromise between the Roman state and the Church to get Christianity to be the state religion of the Roman empire. The Carnival started on that date in the Roman calendar; Sabbath worship was shifted to Sunday for similar reasons, as Romans had worshiped the sun. Also the Roman law of monogomy was accepted. There is no New Testament basis for a winter date of Jesus’ birth, the only thing being a hint at a spring date, as I understand. Again, I have not studied this history, but it sounds quite interesting.
Sabbath worship was shifted to Sunday for similar reasons, as Romans had worshiped the sun. I believe the switch from Saturday to Sunday predates the establishment of Constantine by a good long time and has nothing to do with Roman pagan worship. Practically, it was a way to distinguish the early Church from the Jewish community from which its ﬁrst members came, to clearly establish the distinctiveness of the Church as something other than a sect within Judaism. Theologically, the shift from the last day of the week to the ﬁrst day of the week emphasises the resurrection and the new beginning in Christ.