Two reader responses to the angry rant from a utility customer who objected to receiving generic holiday greetings at Christmastime.
Jeffrey Shallit writes:
This guy represents everything that is bad about Christian North America. He doesn’t understand freedom of religion; he feels so threatened by non-Christians he wants to resort to violence; and he assumes everyone who is Canadian is necessarily Christian (forget about all those damned, Jews, I suppose, not to mention native Canadians who might follow traditional native religions).
Although not Jewish myself, I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia that was predominantly Jewish. Many lost members of their family in the Holocaust at the hands of Christian Germans, Poles, Ukrainians and Russians. (And please, do not object with a version of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Their murderers often called themselves Christians, and the long history of Christian anti-Semitism cannot be denied.) These Jews did not always celebrate Christmas, even the secular version, and many objected strongly to the presumption that everyone did.
In such an environment, if you did not know what people celebrated, it was simply rude to assume one way or another. Thus, I grew up wishing people “Happy Holidays” unless I was sure. Most people I knew did the same. I still do so.
David Major counters:
Unless I am awfully mistaken, the notion of the neutralized nomenclature is a thoroughly urban myth.
The idea was born in a corporate manger fearing the tag of presumptiveness.
Mind, there are situations where the gathering is fairly intimate where a good host might fairly be as inclusive as possible.