Adirondack Enterprise: Is there a war on Christmas in Bloomingdale? Nope.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise did something courageous this afternoon:

Its editorial board just plain admitted point-blank — no hedging, no fudging — that they got it wrong last Saturday when they reported that a local elementary school had “cracked down on Christmas.”

The paper’s editorial team offered the kind of apology that actually has teeth:  “That was a huge mistake on our part.”

As an aside, I’ll share my view that getting stuff wrong is no sin in journalism.  I do it all the time, under the pressure of deadlines and my own muddled human fallibility.

The sin — and a lot of journalists commit it regularly — is not acknowledging and correcting those errors, prominently, promptly and unambiguously.  The Enterprise didn’t pull any punches in that regard.

Now back to the facts of this case:

A group of parents in Bloomingdale approached the Enterprise last week with a concern that the holiday concert had been stripped of Christmas-specific songs.

According to their claims, a student had presented a petition to the elementary school’s principal, demanding that more specifically Christian music be included in the program, and received no satisfaction.

It was suggested in the Enterprise article that the change was being made as a sop to political correctness, because a Muslim child was enrolled in the school.

Turns out none of that was true.

At least one piece of Christmas music was included in the original program.  Well before the original Enterprise article appeared, the songlist had been amended to add even more traditional seasonal music.

At no point had the musical selections been shaped to protect the sensibilities of non-Christians.  Instead, the music reflected a “winter” theme.

“This was a false rumor,” the Enterprise concluded in its editorial, “and we mistakenly published it as fact. We should have been more skeptical and patient. We’re sorry.”

This local rumor follows on the release last week of a controversial advertisement by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, claiming that kids in America aren’t being allowed to celebrate Christmas in America.

Perry went on to insist that President Barack Obama has instigated a war on religion.

Fox News and other conservative media outlets have peddled similar myths about the systematic persecution of Christians in the name of political correctness.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, meanwhile, has launched his own tongue-in-cheek war on Christmas, insisting that “there can be no peace” until the holiday is driven from our culture.

So what do you think?

Do you think American culture is hostile to Christmas and Christianity?  Do you think public places — like schools and public squares — are the place to celebrate this religious holiday?

And for those of you who do fear that Christians are being victimized, does this story — a false alarm, a false rumor — give you pause?

As always, comments welcome below.

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24 Comments on “Adirondack Enterprise: Is there a war on Christmas in Bloomingdale? Nope.”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    The biggest threat to Christmas comes in the form of Black Friday and all the stupid “make this the best Christmas ever” by buying this, that and the other thing.
    Any of the Christian Values politicians want to attack that problem?

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  2. Paul says:

    Don’t journalists independently verify their information anymore?

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  3. Sorry but I agree with Paul. I totally understand the fly-by-nature of daily journalism. And I’m sympathetic to the fact that sometimes names can be misspelled, positions misattributed and the like.

    But this one should’ve ignited the smell test. Journalists have a responsibility to verify information, but doubly so before publishing a potentially inflammatory and divisive story.

    A correction is nice, and needed. But did the apology include measures that will be taken to prevent the dissemination of such inflammatory, false information in the future from the region’s only daily paper? Is the ADE just an uncritical megaphone for anyone with a grievance? That’s really a more important debate than the mythical war on Christmas nonsense.

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  4. Think of it this way. How many people read the article and their first instinct was to blame that Muslim student? That it was all his fault? How was he treated after the article’s publication? Will the ADE report on that?

    A little responsibility, for goodness sakes, please!

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  5. Mervel says:

    I think a Christmas program should be about Christmas, it’s a religious holiday that reflects the majority culture. There is nothing wrong with singing Christmas songs. I mean only one Christmas song?

    There is no “winter” holiday, it does not exist so attempts to create one just to NOT talk about the birth of Jesus; is biased. They should do nothing it would be more honest.

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  6. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I’m an atheist and I celebrate Christmas. I know plenty of Muslims and Jews who celebrate Christmas. I can sing many “Christian” holiday songs by heart including the one with the “round young virgin” in it. And like it or not Christmas is a holiday.
    If Jesus were around today I’m sure he would tell all the Christians that they have better things to do than to get in a huff because somebody says “happy holidays”.

    And it IS a winter holiday going well back before Christianity. As most Christian scholars know, Christ was not born at Christmas time.

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  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    RIck Perry, bad lipreading.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/12/rick-perry-ad-bad-lip-reading_n_1144385.html

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  8. oa says:

    Yeah, Mervel, Christmas is a purloined pagan holiday, something to do with the solstice, I believe. Not that there’s anything wrong with Christ, or pagans for that matter. Can’t we all just get along?
    And Paul, no need to check: If Bill O’Reilly tells me it’s true, I go to the bank with it.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  9. Gary says:

    Well I for one am tired of the GOP primary bashing bogs but do I want to move on to bashing Christmas? No, I prefer to bash poor reporting by the media. Not only do they decide what should be reported but how it gets reported. It wasn’t that long ago the backlash from the public did away with Dan Rather!

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  10. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    How do we get rid of Fox News? They’re the ones behind this made up War on Christmas.

    Everybody write a letter to Fox: Fire Bill O’Reilly.

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  11. Mervel says:

    Well sure we can go find some random ancient holiday to celebrate that has no modern adherents, and why would we do that? The reason is to avoid talking about the birth of Christ. Yes Jesus was not actually born in December most likely and yes the Church did decide this was a good time to celebrate the Birth of Christ, so what? The point of the holiday is that celebration of the birth of Christ; if a Christmas program wants to search so hard to find non Christian songs so they end up with only one, of the hundreds of classics that are out there, they are most certainly intentionally avoiding Christmas for political reasons.

    Is this a war? No I don’t think so at all, it is just a long running slow subtle bias against any public displays of faith particularly Christian faith. Would I have gone and made a big deal about it? No I would not have, I just find phony Christmas programs that don’t have actual Christmas Carols depressing and vapid. They remind me of state sponsored art.

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  12. Peter Hahn says:

    This was an inflammatory story and potentially a major investigatory coup. I can see why the reporters wanted to go with it. But it is also the kind of story that can cause real harm to real people – mainly the non-Christian children and their families who would be blamed for this. The paper was absolutely correct to offer a complete retraction and apology.

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  13. Peter Hahn says:

    The holiday season – the two weeks or so off from school around christmas and new years has been the “winter break” for many many years. What used to be Easter week has been “spring break” for a long time too. They are still colloquially referred to as christmas or easter vacation, but Im not sure Easter happens during spring break anymore.

    Christmas is also a major secular holiday. American non-Christians get christmas trees – tell their children about Santa Clause, exchange gifts, put up lights on their houses. Just like halloween and thanksgiving, all (American) children love christmas – you get a couple of weeks off if nothing else.

    Only those children whose religion forbids celebrating these holidays have a problem and it is to the school’s credit that they try to meet the needs of these children as well as the others.

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  14. rockydog says:

    The part that bothers me is the Entrtprise offered half an apology. While admitting their mistake they still went through great lengths to blame school administrators for not returning phone calls. You can’t blame your misjudmement on unreturned calls. Enterprise entered TMZ territory.

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  15. Peter Hahn says:

    Rocky – I sort of agree except that they offered the “excuse” more as an explanation than an excuse and made it very clear that it was still 100% their fault. I’m sure they very much wish that their calls had a been returned before they went to press, and they are obviously embarrassed that they didn’t wait. But you have a point. I’m not sure we needed to know the details about how they got it wrong. They tried but failed to get the facts. Im not sure that is really much better than just going with a (false) rumor.

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  16. Christmas is far more important as an economic driver (and a culture war touchstone) than as a religious holiday…. which is why some denominations celebrate it on January 6 (?), the day recognized as when the 3 Kings arrived in Bethlehem.

    (Besides, even in the Christian world, Easter is far more significant).

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Verplanck says:

    Mervel,

    Are the classic songs frosty the snowman, most wonderful time of the year, sleigh ride, jingle bells, deck the halls, let it snow, and winter wonderland all part of the war on christmas? Are only songs at specifically say ‘jesus’ or ‘christmas’ the only valid carols to you? Are you offended when you hear these songs?

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  18. Paul says:

    “Sorry but I agree with Paul.”

    Brian, you must hate it when that happens!

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  19. Paul says:

    “Besides, even in the Christian world, Easter is far more significant”

    Brian, why do you say this? I thought that Easter and Christmas were kind of on par with each other. Seemed like that in the catholic school I attended anyway.

    Maybe some other denominations see it differently? More info?

    I have certainly learned being married to a Jew that Hanukkah is not a very “significant” Jewish event. Certainly not close to the high holidays.

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  20. Paul, I was raised Catholic too. It’s true the Church makes a big deal about both but Easter was presented as more significant because Christ dying for our sins and being resurrected is the key act in the story, so to speak. That was the redemption, more so than Jesus merely being born.

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  21. This is such a non-issue (the ADE becoming a megaphone for unverified hatemongers is more disturbing). It’s obnoxious that some people here so object to the idea of offering well-wishes to non-Christians. What’s wrong with Happy Holidays? It’s nastiness pure and simple.

    I lived in a majority Muslim country for two years… a country which had a higher percentage of Muslims than the US has Christians. I wished my neighbors well during the Ramadan feasts and they wished me well on Christmas and Easter. There wasn’t the slightest bit of angst, animus or nastiness between us. Maybe that’s because we weren’t trying so hard to view the other as sub-human usurpers.

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  22. Pete Klein says:

    Brian MOFYC is theologically correct. Without Easter (crucifixion and resurrection) there would not be any Christmas.

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  23. Mervel says:

    This is not a big deal for me, but I just find it strange that you have a Christmas concert and seek out non-Christian songs to make sure you can bury the whole reason for Christmas. Why do it? The idea of creating some secular fake “winter” holiday is mainly just kind of boring or at least depressing. All of the shopping and materialism is bad enough. Why not spread a little meaning, what is wrong with hearing some silent night for this Christian Holiday?

    But it would be just as boring and depressing if we had a Ramadan celebration and made sure we didn’t talk about Ramadan or Islam, but created some other fake veneer holiday to make sure we didn’t talk about Ramadan.

    I wish my Muslim friends a blessed Ramadan and I wish my Christian friends Merry Christmas. Religious devotion and expression add texture to society in my opinion.

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  24. PNElba says:

    Easter is the most important holyday for Catholics.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm

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