As a kid driving along Foothill Blvd. in Azusa, one of the joys was seeing the nativity scene of near life-sized figures of the shepherds, kings, Mary, and Joseph and the infant Jesus arranged just so on the front of the civic center lawn. The scene reminded us of how special this time of year was. It grounded us in reverence. To most they’re only statues, but to kids they were monuments of the sacred that asked us to pause and reflect. But kids being kids it were the live donkeys, sheep, and cows munching on the strewn hay that counted just as fair. But today society is different. It’s inclusive and pluralistic, and the public displays of honoring God (I realize that Jews will wince at this) and religion are assigned exclusively to the secular and humanistic realm. No more wonder. No more stars. No more light that awakens the soul. And Daniel Henninger seems to agree. He fears that Christmas will be crowded out by other December holidays and winter traditions and be reduced to a kind of Thanksgiving with all the urgency of Black Fridays. And given how Amazon allows people to pass the long lines in Macy’s or the parking fiascos at your local mall, being out and about during the holidays is less of an excursion. But I think he’s wrong. I think people will find a way to celebrate life and in particular religious life. Who is going to toss aside thousands-year traditions?
Mark J. Perry points to Henninger’s comments in the Wall Street Journal. “Quotation of the Day II, is from Daniel Henninger’s writing in the WSJ and explaining why this year is “The Year Christmas Died” (emphasis mine):”
. . . the Christmas killers will get the last laugh. In fact, they’ve already won. This is the year Christmas died as a public event in the United States. We know this after touring the historic heart of public Christmas—Fifth Avenue in New York City.
To be sure, the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas tree still stands, and directly across on Fifth Avenue is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, its facade washed and hung with a big green wreath. But walk up or down the famous avenue this week and what you and your children will see is not merely Christmas scrubbed, but what one can only describe as the anti-Christmas. Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.
In the post-Christmas era, the infant Jesus and Santa Claus will go back to the catacombs of early Christian life, where you won’t have to say happy holidays to anyone. Christmas as we know it will die off, and what will be left on December 25th will look a lot like Thanksgiving, but smaller.
In 1971, Karenga was sentenced to one to ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment. One of the victims gave testimony of how Karenga and other men tortured her and another woman. The woman described having been stripped and beaten with an electrical cord. Karenga’s estranged wife, Brenda Lorraine Karenga, testified that she sat on the other woman’s stomach while another man forced water into her mouth through a hose.
A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of the women:
“Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis’ mouth and placed against Miss Davis’ face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They also were hit on the heads with toasters.”
Karenga denied any involvement in the torture, and argued that the prosecution was political in nature. He was imprisoned at the California Men’s Colony, where he studied and wrote on feminism, Pan-Africanism and other subjects. The US organization fell into disarray during his absence and was disbanded in 1974. After he petitioned several black state officials to support his parole on fair sentencing grounds, it was granted in 1975.
Karenga has declined to discuss the convictions with reporters and does not mention them in biographical materials. During a 2007 appearance at Wabash Collegehe again denied the charges and described himself as a former political prisoner.
But to what end was Kwanzaa created, and who, besides Everett, inspired it? To give African-Americans their own December holiday? Seems awfully mocking to me. And atheistic. Kwanzaa, like Hannakah, is a week long festival. And politicians love it because it gives them an opportunity even at a holy time to pander to race, guilting the majority to consider someone other than their God. This was a pretty good presentation: