I just wanted to post the following here in the run up to Christmas. It kind of fits in with the post about memory, and the way we recall events and situations. It’s not the usual fare for this blog, but it needs highlighting.
I was sat in the pub a week ago, and court was being held in the bar by a blowhard, loudly decrying what he saw as political correctness. Nothing unusual in that – amongst the usual right-wing stuff, one of his subjects was ‘I remember in Birmingham when they called Christmas Winterval, and nobody was allowed to mention Christmas in case it offended the p…’ – his last term was the usual form of lazy racial abuse which one expects in that kind of situation. Blowhard’s audience were appreciative, and lapped this up. The myth continues, mainly because it justifies prejudice.
The legend of ‘Winterval’ and the banning of Christmas has been popularised by a right-wing press with it’s sinister agenda for years, feeding material to pub bigots for over a decade. There’s just one snag. Christmas was never rebranded ‘Winterval’, and there was no question of offending anyone.
This has been disassembled expertly by blogger Kevin Arscott – Uponnothing – and by the likes of top Brum internet bloke Andy Mabbett. There’s a potted dismantling by The Guardian and a host of press watching blogs. I recommend – particularly if you think this is true, or you’ve fallen for the ‘war on Christmas’ stuff in the Daily Mail – that you read these. This subject also touches on a very good blog post recently published by Aldridge’s very own Linda Mason.
To cap this as a falsehood, the Daily Mail, in it’s new corrections column, actually published a retraction recently, stating:
We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in many places Winterval.
Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998.
We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.
I’d like to think that blowhard would read and absorb this, but of course, he won’t. One has to question the motives of the press here. If this is so baseless, what other stuff are they propagating falsely? There is no ‘War on Christmas’ whatever fundamentalists in the US would like you to think, and for some reason, they wanted you to think there was. Let’s not forget the role of politicians, who’ve also exploited this coverage for their own ends. Which other campaigns the press prosecute – anti Health and Safety for instance – are being pushed on falsehoods?
Be suspicious of the press, and what they say. Always ask yourself why you’re being expected to be angry about an issue. I’ve said this before, and I will do so again; beware of those who would divide us. The more I experience the modus operandi of some journalists, the more I realise how untrustworthy many newspapers are.
Oh, and Merry Christmas.