My message is this: I applaud the decision taken by your council to hang festive lights that reflect all British religions on the streets of Birmingham this year instead of just symbols of Christmas.
The furore is partly your fault: you should have learnt by now not to try to sneak in such changes like thieves in the night or through some badly written municipal press release. You should have been brazen and used some artful PR company to herald this initiative.
What you are doing is right. You are acknowledging a reality that too many white people in this country wish to deny or even destroy. There is a whiff of hypocrisy about the outrage. It is expressed mostly by people who have no religious feeling and for whom Christmas is simply an orgy of indulgence or a time to make amends for the neglect of loved ones, and who often tediously proclaim at dinner parties that they hate the occasion. What they are really declaring in a highly codified way is the rejection of an equal and multicultural society. Santa Claus, a relatively new arrival to these shores, suddenly represents all that is right and white about this country, something that must be defended against the invasion of 'alien' forces, an assertion of ugly white cultural supremacy which is re-emerging with a vengeance.
In some ways you should regard the onslaught on you as ludicrous. Would these people ban Indian, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish restaurants because they are a threat to the British way of cooking (ha ha), or insist that their children should be taught only the geography of the British Isles?
In other ways, this kind of hysteria is a sign of something more ominous. It reveals how even highly educated or deeply charitable white British people still cling to the colonial idea that the world is or should be as they define it: that, for example, Christianity is the dominant religion in the world when it patently isn't. It is therefore unsurprising that we have the prospect of another BNP local election victory (in Tividale, West Midlands, where nice white people are objecting to the building of a temple). It also shows how insecurity about the English identity is making people retreat from diversity - away from Europe, away, too, from the various cultures within Britain.
Such escapism in adults is a dangerous thing. So well done for reminding everyone that a multifarious, complex society is a gain not a loss and that, however fervently bigots might pray, it is unlikely that Santa Claus will deliver a pure white Christmas this year.
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