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Beware: “political correctness gone mad” stories may not be all they seem…

27 Nov

It is a cliche of grumpiness to mutter about “political correctness”, a phrase I once swore never to use if I could avoid it. But often it turns out to be a furphy. I thought of this yesterday, as it happens, when I proposed to myself photographing some of Sydney’s Christmas decorations for Ninglun’s Specials. Yes, “politically correct” as Clover Moore may seem, she apparently doesn’t have a problem with wishing people a Happy Christmas, strewing street banners right and left to do so and wishing us all a “Joyous Christmas” on the front of her latest (recycled paper) full colour propaganda and information brochure…

clover

No problem! Not in my opinion anyway, and quite compatible with inclusiveness, respect, multiculturalism and all those good things…

So I read with interest The Catholic Herald (UK): This is anti-political correctness gone mad.

“BID TO BAN CHRISTMAS" shrieked the headline in the Sun in bold caps, "Festive Fun Upsets Migrants, Says Labour Think-Tank". To someone writing a book about political correctness a story like that is, well, like Christmas coming early. There is my next chapter, I thought, as I filed the cutting.

But when I looked into the story in more detail it started fraying at the edges. Yes, it was certainly fair to describe the Institute for Public Policy Research as a "Labour Think-Tank" – Nick Pearce, the director of the IPPR at the time its allegedly anti-Christmas report was published, went on to become the head of policy at Downing Street. But when I rang their offices to ask whether they really wanted to ban Christmas (or, if you read the Daily Mail rather than the Sun, to see it "downgraded to help race relations") they denied any such thing. Here is what their report actually says: "Even-handedness dictates that we provide public recognition to minority cultures and traditions. If we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas – and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to – then public organisations should mark other religious festivals too." The tone may be a little po-faced, but the report does not in any sense suggest that Christmas should be abolished.

The lament about politically correct attempts to destroy this great festival is a hardy perennial of anti-PC journalism, and any newspaper stories appearing between now and early January which include the words "political correctness gone mad" need to be treated with a great deal of caution…

Indeed.

Hat tip to Indigo Jo, a British Muslim, for that story.

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Posted by on November 27, 2008 in culture wars, faith and philosophy, interfaith, local, media watch, Multicultural, multiculturalism

 

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