One of the best things about getting older is the benefit of having perspective and experience. Experience is one of those things you can’t steal, fake, or buy. It only comes with time.
I experienced a different Halloween.
30+ years ago, I remember which group was the primary enemy of Halloween. It was the church and the evangelical right. I remember churches used to HATE Halloween. Virtually every church used to run youth programs every Halloween, like movie nights, or youth fellowships to keep kids from trick or treating. The horrors of Halloween were always described in vivid detail, of how it was Satan’s doing, and someone would poison your candy or put razor blades in your Snickers bar. Now, it astounds me the switch that’s occurred. The primary enemy of Halloween has become the progressive left. Even as recently as 2014 you can find left wing outlets criticizing Christians for anti-Halloween practices. In the span of maybe 2-3 years, the cultural shift that’s taken place is staggering. All of a sudden, it’s the left that up in arms about Halloween. As the left has gotten progressively more radical, be it gender issues or mass immigration, Halloween becomes the newest casualty in the culture wars. Halloween used to be the one sacred cow among the left as they assaulted the various religious holidays, this recent attack proves that no institution is safe from the progressive left.
The War on Christmas I disagree with, but at least I understand it. Christmas is a Christian holiday, which makes the War on Halloween even stranger, because it’s been considered for a long time to be a secular holiday. Halloween’s origin is believed to have been Samhain, a pagan harvest holiday. However, the word Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve is actually of Christian origin, and All Saints Day, November 1, is actually meant to celebrate the Saints of the Church. Whether pagan or Christian, Halloween is an institution that has roots that are centuries deep. In addition, the act of wearing a costume originates in Scotland and Ireland, so the entire act of wearing ANY costume is technically cultural appropriation. For some reason though, I don’t hear the left complaining about appropriating Gaelic culture. It seems every holiday is on the left wing target list, Columbus Day, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and now Halloween.
You can currently find dozens of articles and thousands of tweets policing the costume choices people want to make. The concept of cultural appropriation as been around in academic circles for awhile, but didn’t really become a tenet of the left till about 2009 or so. As it started on college campuses, that’s where we usually see it coming from today. I actually read several of these college notices, and they are full of vague, pandering guidelines. It didn’t really start becoming a major issue till about 2014, so we are seeing a pretty recent trend. Now, let me state that I don’t support running around in blackface, for obvious reasons. There is actually a significant reason not to do that, as it was used in the past to make fun of and stereotype black people who were historically oppressed, but it isn’t just blackface that the left wants to police.
Want to dress as an inmate? Sorry that trivializes mass incarceration.
How about a psycho killer? Oops sorry that makes fun of mental illness.
Disney Princess? Promoting white supremacy and beauty standards.
Police officer? Sorry police brutality is nothing to condone.
Alternate gender? Sorry, that’s transphobic.
Clown Costume? Banned in several locations. Coulrophobia of course.
That doesn’t even begin to cover it. Sombreros, Kimonos, Native American headdresses, and a whole lot more are on the left’s puritanical appropriation radar. Personally, I always thought people dressed in those costumes because they thought that culture had a cool aesthetic, not to make fun of it. Am I appropriating Nordic culture if I dress like a Viking, even though I’m a white guy? I always thought people dressed up as things they thought were cool. Let’s be honest, every culture has some really cool aesthetics, so it’s a little strange to me that people would be so up in arms over it. As a matter of fact, I watched a video yesterday asking Japanese people what they thought of other people “appropriating” their culture. They thought it was awesome. They thought it was honoring and spreading what they consider to be an amazing culture. Numerous colleges have run “appropriation workshops” or seminars to determine what’s acceptable. There’s even an article in the New York Times about a mom who was triggered because her daughter wanted to be Elsa for Halloween, but she couldn’t stand the fact that Elsa promoted traditional beauty standards.
The roots of this are the left’s complete inability to deal with hurt feelings and the way they manufacture outrage to mobilize their base. We’ve raised an entire generation of people that are totally infantilized, and collapse into a heap of mush at every opportunity. Safe space culture and political correctness have bred an entire generation of radicals that believe we should all conform to their feelings. In their world, we should all think alike and no one should ever be offended. This is one reason I’m glad Donald Trump is the president. Political correctness must be destroyed, and every time he tweets or says something mildly inappropriate, I love it. He’s chipping away at this absurd politically correct culture, one tweet after another. A lot of these far left ideas have roots very recently. Cultural appropriation, Confederate statues, Safe Spaces, and so many other things have only been brought up in the very recent past. My theory is that Obama’s re-election in 2012 was the trigger point. They really thought they had won permanently, so it gave them the go ahead in their minds to go as far as they wanted. They also learned to organize around issues, and galvanize their base. The more oppression related issues they can manufacture, the more they fire up their base.
Regardless of whether you believe Halloween is secular or Christian, evil or good, it should be preserved if for no other reason than to keep triggering the left until the snowflakes are melted.
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Steve is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.