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.