Sunday, December 25, 2005

The New York Times, in typically miopic and partisan fashion, trots out a sanguine editorial in "celebration" of Christmas.
But Christmas is something different. Feeling is the point of it, somewhere under all that shopping. To think of Scrooge is to think of his conversion, the cartwheeling of his emotions after his long night of the soul. But the more interesting part of the story is his dogged resistance to feeling the way everyone thinks he's supposed to feel - about death, about charity, about prize turkeys hanging at the poulterer's.
How sweet. For the Times, it's all about how you feel. Never mind that the point of A Christmas Carol was finding redemption for what you had done. Why let deeds get in the way of feelings? The hollow sentiment marches on:
Most of us know how we want to feel this time of year, whatever holiday we are celebrating. We want to feel safe, loving and well loved, well fed, openhanded, and able to be moved by the powerful but very humble stories that gather in this season. We would like to feel that there is a kind of innocence, not in our hearts, since our hearts are such complicated places, but in the very gestures and rituals of late December.
Say what? Read that again, because it say's absolutely nothing. Moreover, consider the passive tense of the verbs. We are supposed to "feel safe," not "enjoy the security of our home." We want to be "well fed," not to "celebrate the bounty" that our efforts over the past year have provided us. We should feel "openhanded," which means exactly nothing I can put a finger on. And we long to be "moved" by "humble stories." How, pray tell, is the story of Jesus Christ a "humble story?" It might be the story of a humble man, but it surely isn't a humble story. If you don't believe me, tour the Vatican someday. The Times goes on:
...whether you are Christian or Jewish or Muslim or merely human, the word we would like to feel most profoundly now is Peace.
Regardless of the absurdity of constructing an argument around somehow feeling a word, that's a nice platitude, but that's all it is. Because "peace" is an illusion. Even if you capitalize it and turn it into some sort of Timesian invioble state of being. "Peace" lasts only as long as someone who dislikes you allows it. It's not something you can achieve for yourself, only something allowed to you by your enemies. By my recollection, I was pretty peaceful feeling on September 10, 2001. Heck, September 11, 2001 was a peaceful morning up until the first plane hit the tower. But to think we were at "Peace" before we were struck is delusional. Likewise, unless you can climb into the head of every Jew-hating, death-to-America chanting, throat-sawing, murderous Islamist and see his (and recently, her) thoughts and plans, don't kid yourself. You might not be under attack, but you are certainly not in some Times-envisioned version of "Peace."

In typical Times defeatism, it turns out in the end that it is because we are human that we cannot achieve "Peace."
We come into this season knowing how we want it to make us feel, and we are usually disappointed because humans never cease to be human. But we are right to remember how we would like to feel. We are right to long for peace and good will.
Oh, brother. For the sake of wrapping this thing up before the New Year, let's put aside the Times laser-sharp focus on our feelings of "Peace," as opposed to our reality. Here's my translation of that last bit of tripe:

"We will never see Peace as defined by this editorial board because we believe humans are incapable of achieving our grand vision of such. But our vision of Peace is nevertheless so grand, and so all-encompassing, that we are justified in pining for it even if we are tilting at windmills and unable to fully articulate what it is we actually have in mind."

Is this supposed to be an inspiring editorial about Peace on Earth? Because it sounds more like "woe is me" to me.

Update: Just to keep in perspective The New York Times contention that the Muslim world pines for Peace just like the rest of us Christians, Jews, and Atheists, consider this story:
In a fit of rage, a Pakistani father has slit his eldest daugher's throat because she married for love.
Yeah, that marrying for love stuff is pretty bad. Better make sure she didn't talk anybody else into that kind nonsense.
The man killed the woman in her sleep before killing his three other daughters in a remote village in Burewala, eastern Pakistan.

Police say Nazir Ahmad feared the three younger girls - aged four to 12 - would follow in their sister's footsteps.


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