My community is both a state capital and a college town, which means I live in a geographic bastion of political correctness. To wit: A recent headline in my hometown newspaper actually read: “Celebrating diversity.”
Setting aside the lack of journalistic brainpower that prompted such a cliché – above the fold, no less – the story about a “multicultural appreciation event” (formerly known as an “ethnic festival”) offered up just one more example of the general obsession with multiculturalism as an end in and of itself.
With Thanksgiving and the Judeo-Christian holidays upon us, I fully expect a series of equally creative headlines in the coming weeks such as “Giving thanks for diversity,” “Interfaith services celebrate diversity,” and “Holiday meals celebrate diversity.”
Truly, the most fervent among the diversity movement are headline writers.
By now we’re all accustomed to the hijacking of religious holidays for both consumerism and multiculturalism, but I confess I still bristle at the usurpation of Thanksgiving as a red-letter day for the diversity movement. To use our national holiday as yet another opportunity to point out that we are not all the same only adds to the gnawing sense that America is a fractured culture.
In my mind, there is nothing as quintessentially American as Thanksgiving, with all the Rockwellian myth and traditions that surround it. For generations, Americans of every race, religion and ethnic origin have put their own spin on Thanksgiving celebrations, seamlessly adopting the holiday as their own while creating regional differences that reflect our rich identity as a melting pot. Thus wild rice stuffing in the north, corn bread stuffing down south.
Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday not to celebrate what is different about Americans, but what we hold in common – gratitude for another season of bounty, appreciation for the gift of freedom, and reverence for the God who created us and blesses us from year to year.
Thanksgiving also puts us in mind of family and friends, and of the bonds of community we share in our neighborhoods, churches and schools. This holiday reminds us that we are blessed with love and friendship, and it invites us to live gratefully for the relationships that give meaning to our lives. To redefine it as a time to focus on what makes us different, rather than what makes us similar, undermines the significance of a national holiday.