I remember a time when opponents of Halloween said it’s an evil day that promotes sorcery and witchcraft. While these are still vocal accusations, I never thought I’d see the opponents saying Halloween isn’t evil enough.
Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution posted this article today about a Washington School in Puyallup banning Halloween because the school has “been contacted by followers of the Wiccan religion, and they indicated they have been offended after seeing elementary school depictions of witches with long noses, warts, cauldrons and such," We’re upsetting Wiccans, thus we must stop. God forbid anyone is uncomfortable about anything.
The Washington Post article goes on to say that this is a growing trend—“It is part of a contentious nationwide trend, as public school administrators, in the name of test-centered learning and multicultural sensitivity, attempt to abbreviate and homogenize classroom celebrations of Halloween, Christmas and Easter. [emphasis mine]”
Now this is scary. We have become so politically correct, so “accepting,” we’re literally white-washing the world into dull conformity. People tell me that globalization “destroys” cultures. That’s not true; globalization stimulates cultural evolution by encouraging collaboration and trade. People exchange ideas and rework their lives. Governments destroy culture because they are under political pressure and have the guns to force people not to offend the “right” group. Conformity is the signature of the state, not the market; histories of China, the Soviet Union and Cuba confirm that.
The school’s first official reason was that these holiday activities take away from schooling. Well, yes and no. Kids running around in costumes may not be sitting at desks learning math, but they are learning something about the American culture (and as Americans, I think that’s pretty worthy). More importantly, any teacher worth their salt could integrate Halloween celebrations with history lessons about origins and witch trials and how too much state power can get out of control rather easily. But because so many schools are run by the government, the average American doesn’t get that option and they don’t get to try different variations on the topic. We are told the one “best” way to do something so we must follow. And we don’t get to dress up.