One star, read in December 2013.
Of course this was gorgeous, and in general, I love Maya Angelou’s . . . everything. But I didn’t love this book’s illustrations, and frankly, if the poem weren’t written by Maya Angelou I would give it negative stars. Because as nice an idea as this “amazing peace” is, it suffers from a specific problem that I no longer have patience for. I am very tired of the tyranny of Christianity in the United States, and I am done with the victim-blaming.
The problem is not, and has never been, that non-Christians are offended by being wished a merry Christmas. The problem is that American Christians think they have a right to control literally everyone and genuinely believe they’re being mistreated when their dominance is questioned.
Non-Christians wouldn’t be offended by “merry Christmas” if they lived in a culture that respected their non-Christianity, if they could celebrate their own holidays (or no holidays) or even just try to be respectful of others without Christians throwing a goddamn fit.
If they didn’t have to see and hear markers of Christianity every single day of their lives, built into the fabric of their society, printed on their money, recited each morning in their children’s schools, on display at their football games, in their courtrooms, in their government’s legislation, at their doctor’s office.
If they didn’t open their front doors to find Christians telling them why they should be Christians—
If they weren’t asked countless times about their Christmas and Easter plans by cashiers and coworkers and complete strangers whose minds have never encountered the thought that such an otherwise apparently normal person might not have Christmas or Easter plans—
If they could simply be publicly known as non-Christians without facing widespread judgment, including the baffling non sequitur that not believing in God makes a person lack morality—
If any of those things were the case, non-Christians might not mind “merry Christmas” at all. And I would like to point out that EVEN SO—even with all the frustration of living in a culture in which the majority actively sidelines and denigrates them—most non-Christians have no problem being wished a merry Christmas. (I’m not one of them, because I am unwilling to be chill about something that’s part of a widespread and highly damaging societal problem. But most.)
It has never been a question of non-Christians getting angry about Christmas. It is, quite frankly, a question of Christians being supremacist assholes. It’s a question of American culture, wherein it is actually the norm for one group to have all the power, all the rights, all the most vocal platforms, then scream “persecution” when anyone wants to not have that group’s beliefs forced upon them.
So the inclusive, all-encompassing language of this poem is lovely, yes. But I just don’t accept that anyone, even Maya Angelou, gets to tell “the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian . . . believers and nonbelievers” that we should all “celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ” together as a community. In fact, to be blunt about it, that is some fucking bullshit. We do not have to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, full stop.
The message of peace is beautiful and wonderful, but you don’t have to believe in Jesus Christ to want it. World peace is not a religious concept.
And I’m just done having to hear this bullshit—even from one of my idols.