Academia

Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa is Over

The disappearance of a strange holiday

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In the days leading up the Christmas, one couldn't help but notice that references to Kwanzaa, the decades-old African-American holiday that captured so many dull minds during the Great Culture Wars of the 1990s, were almost nonexistent. Kwanzaa, an Afrocentic celebration of black self-reliance (or something) that so spooked the "war on Christmas" types, has largely disappeared. Back in the day, its champions and critics alike thought it could potentially replace Christmas in the very Christian African-American community.

But now, silence.

Does anyone remember that back in the early 1990s, AT&T ran television ads suggesting that blacks call their families during Kwanzaa using their telephone service? That stores stocked Kwanzaa candles and  kente clothes? That student unions were festooned with Marcus Garvey's pan-African flag? In 1995, a local activist triumphantly told The Boston Globe, "We're at the point now where Kwanzaa has gotten so big that we feel like Santa Claus is really on the way out."

Or take this 2004 item from the conservative website Newsmax, lamenting that a "Stroll through your local card and party store and you'll find Kwanzaa items….Check out almost any appointment calendar and you'll find it duly noted on December 26 that 'Kwanzaa begins.'" And it was pretty amazing to watch nervous college administrators and city employees create space for a holiday that few blacks had ever heard of. And it was, when one bothered to figure out just what constituted a specifically African-American holiday, amusing to see that it was a monumentally stupid hybrid of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Franz Fanon.

From the Maoist calls for the celebration of "collective work and responsibility" and "collective vocation [of] building and developing of our community," and the festive promise to engage in "cooperative economics," to the astoundingly banal calls for "creativity" and the admonitions "to believe with all our heart in our people," the principles of Kwanzaa were stuck in the failed revolutionary movements of the 1960s and weren't particularly appealing to 21st century black youth. When reading these boring, mildly cultish, and utterly dreary moral instructions, it's easy to see why Kwanzaa failed as spectacularly as Tony Martin's academic career.

Indeed, one Kwanzaa instruction book for purchase on Amazon.com explains that the holiday "celebrates the African harvest," a line that would surely strike the captive people of Zimbabwe and the 20 million hungry souls in the Horn of Africa as a cruel joke.

My non-American wife was shocked and slightly bemused when I explained that the deep traditions of Kwanzaa, with which she was strangely familiar, were only created in 1966 by a bizarre black radical named Ron Karenga. She was equally incredulous when I explained that Karenga, a minor league Black Panther and later a college professor at California State University, was once sentenced to prison for holding a member of his organization hostage and burning her with an iron. The founding Santa Claus of Kwanzaa was, it seemed, the holiday version of Rick James.

(The Los Angeles Times reported on the incident, helpfully explaining that Karenga's victim "Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Ms. Davis's mouth and placed against Ms. Davis's face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said." As far as can be determined, none of this is part of the Kwanzaa ritual, though the celebratory detergent and hose in the mouth sounds festive.)

But when I visited a greeting card store in West Hollywood yesterday, there were plenty of Christmas cards (mostly scrubbed of Christianity) and piles of Chanukah gewgaws—but nothing Kwanzaa-related. The local Barnes & Noble featured tables of Christmas and Chanukah books and gifts, though there were no volumes on the recent history or celebration of Kwanzaa to be found anywhere in the store.

Karenga's holiday rose and fell with the culture war. And it hardly needs explaining to even the mildly libertarian reader that if there was money to be made hawking T-shirts, lighters, and beer cozies that outlined the Leninist principles of gift collectivization or bore the image of Karenga, the Kwanzaa industry would have seen significant growth in the past decade.

It is, perhaps, an encouraging sign of the times. In many respects, the Great Culture Wars are over, and while most black studies departments still embrace the balkanizing principles of multiculturalism, the great majority of African Americans have little interest in dressing up like Jim Brown and lighting candles that symbolize the workers controlling the means of production.

So Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah.

And, perhaps for the last time, have a righteous Kwanzaa. 

Michael Moynihan is a senior editor of reason.

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  1. Shit! When was KWANZAA again?

  2. December 26 Phalkor it lasts 7 days.
    Any H&Rers in NYC can celebrate it “free” at the Weiss Federal building 290 Broadway.Well it isn’t exactly free as the National Park Service is hosting it.

  3. New Yorkers preferring a non-profit private sector Kwanzaa can celebrate on Dec 28 at the American Museum of Natural History

  4. I’ve always been amazed how seriously so many people take a “holiday” invented in the ’60s by a violent race-obsessed radical. I think it shows how eager most people are to not be thought “racist.”

    1. Well, Scientology isn’t much older… Hollywood takes it pretty seriously.

  5. I’m shocked and saddened that Mr. Moynihan ended his column with salutes to those who celebrate Christmas, Channukah, and Kwanzaa, but no mention of us Festivus worshippers.

    That’s a grievance for me to air.

  6. I’m not sure which apartheid Cracker-ville Moynihan lives in but we take our Kwanzaa seriously down here in the ATL.

  7. Kwanzaa is silly. If black intelligentsia really wanted to kick the Man’s ass, they should’ve pushed Saturnalia. Classic and fun!

  8. Considering the huge percentages of black people who are Christian, and quite strongly, too, this was kind of doomed to fail.

    “Yo, Kringle! What happened to you, doll?”

    “Oh, it’s awful, Kwanzabot. Everyone hates me.”

    “At least they understand you, you know what I’m sayin’? Ain’t nobody down with this Kwanza trip.”

  9. I’ve always been amazed how seriously so many people take a “holiday” invented in the ’60s by a violent race-obsessed radical.

    Wasn’t there a Horst Wessle day at one time in Central Europe?

  10. Clearly kwanza has been superseded by squidmass. It used to be the hip, anti-christmas holiday, but these fads come and go.

    -jcr

  11. Was that rave/jungle boogie thingy in “Matrix II : Revo-Shizzlins” a kwanzee c-bration?

  12. but no mention of us Festivus worshippers

    Your greased pole is ready?

  13. I think there is much good in Kwanzaa. I also think that it is manufactured holiday/celebration that will not stand the test of time.

    I will humbly admit that I would have thought similarly about that whole heretical Jewish sect thing (Christianity) in 100 AD.

  14. Kwanzaa, the decades-old African-American holiday that captured so many dull minds during the Great Culture Wars of the 1990s

    I can’t add anything to that devastating (and much appreciated) insult.
    Except: Happy green and yellow and black stripes to all the tribalists!

    Love the clanish wardrobes, by the way. And your own very special ripoff of the minora.

  15. Why do you even care about Kwanzaa enough to celebrate its failure? This article sounds less like, “Hey, whatever happened to Kwanzaa?” and more like, “Take that, you goofy black people with your weird hats!” Like, okay, it was a stupid holiday, but what’s with the active animosity towards it?

  16. Justify your anti-kufi agenda, Moynihan.

  17. Is anybody else getting the “dangerous n*gro” ads? I like how Reason frequently has ad banners that are in direct opposition to the author’s agenda. Wonder what service they’re using.

  18. I think most people think Kwanzaa is (was) a rediscovery of a centuries-old African tradition, rather than being something recently invented.

    I’m for whatever works to make people happy so long as it doesn’t hurt others. If Kwanzaa makes (made) some African Americans happy, have at it.

    As for the Karenga story. It reminds me of the Simpson’s Episode where Lisa found out the legend of Jebodiah Springfield (alias Hans Sprungfeld) as brave and wonderous pioneer was all wrong (He was really a drunken criminal who tried to kill George Washington).
    Maybe the same is true here. The myth is more important than the truth.

  19. Freaking academics always miss the point. KWANZAA WAS DESIGNED TO GIVE BLACK HOURLY WORKERS A CHANCE TO JUMP OVER THE SENIORITY SYSTEM FOR TIME OFF, AND LET THEM TAKE OFF THE WEEK BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’S. By attaching it to their protected-class status, versus some religious basis, they were able to spook managers into giving them the prime holiday time-off, often over the objections of white or Spanish coworkers who had seniority.

    Now that black workers have seniority, there’s no more need for Kwanzaa.

    (Seriously, have you eggheads ever held a real job?)

  20. The few blacks with whom I’ve discussed Kwanzaa weren’t interested in it. They preferred the Christian Christmas. Of course, it’s been reasonably proposed more than once that Jesus may have been black. It’s certainly a safe bet he wasn’t a European looking caucasian.

  21. Seem to be some Kwanzaapologists in this thread.

    Moynihan’s point is not that people shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s that Kwanzaa hurts society by promoting divisive attitudes. Hence, he’s happy to see it go.

    It’s a free country. You can celebrate Adolph Hitler’s birthday (April 20th, mark your calendars) if you want. Doesn’t mean you should.

  22. The struggle continues, as the Oppressor has a new guise: I bust Hillary Clinton for cultural insensitivity.

  23. FactoryWorker: given that the holiday was invented by an academic, I find it difficult to believe that time off had anything to do with it.

    Now, that may have helped its popularity. I don’t see how it was “designed” that way, unless Karenga was working on behalf of factory workers, or someone else who didn’t get Christmas Break.

  24. December 26 is the start of the Boxing Week (upgraded from Boxing Day) Sale.

    No other commercialized celebrations need apply.

  25. Shorter Michael Moynihan:
    “I was down at the mall and didn’t see
    ANYbody selling Kawanza* tchotkes. Guess
    all those foolish Negroes have wised up,
    eh? Heh, indeed.”

    The kinara is already up at our house,
    thankyouverymuch, and we’re going to get
    the First Fruits elements on Friday.
    Both our sons know what it’s all about,
    and the seven-year-old can already pronounce
    kuchichagulia. But he’s pretty bright.

    *Misspelling intentional, for the sarcasm impaired.

  26. Oh, sorry Robert. I didn’t realize that YOU still celebrated it. That looks like an empirically sound case to me. Guess Michael Moynihan is wrong. Nyeah nyeah.

  27. My Lady friend is a black woman from Zimbabwe and she thinks Kwanzaa is silly. It has nothing to do with the Africa she knows. She has many friends from other countries of Africa and none celebrate or care about Kwanzaa. We went to a Post Office last year around Christmas and the clerk asked her goodheartedly if she wanted Kwanzaa stamps. Talk about stereotyping and prejudice being institutionalized. No, my friend wanted Christmas stamps as that is what she and her greater family and friends celebrate. Kwanzaa is an embarrassment, created by a criminal.

  28. If i see anyone “celebrating” kwanzaa, i’ll shoot’em with paintballs. Why? Because it’s a stupid, bs holiday to promote communism. Being created by a Black Panther doesn’t help.

    And i celebrate April 20th. But not in honor of Mr. Hitler. 😉

  29. Jeezus… Wait ’til Moynihan realizes the balkanizing effects of immigration, flag burning, and that rap music all the nigger kids are listening to.

  30. Earlier this afternoon I was doing some last minute shopping, and near by me was the gorgeous African-American Goddess, long, slender, six foot two, long Donna Summer 70s Disco era like hair, smooth even complexion, even facial symmetry and cheek bones like God intended, and she wore short Christmas boots, and an ultra suede jacket with a cute fur hoodie.

    She briefly stopped to glance at the small Kwanzaa display, but did not purchase anything, and then she rushed off. Oh, I am telling you, if she had stayed there long enough for me to make a move and get her digits, I would be preaching the joys and wonders of cooperative economics in every post. We dodged a bullet there.

  31. LOL

    Obama gets elected, and suddenly Reason doesn’t sound like so much like the (fill in the liberal bastion) Weekly any more.

    That’s a good thing, so far.

  32. It is still going strong at “the One’s” church.

    http://sweetness-light.com/archive/obamas-church-heavily-promoted-kwanzaa

    That and hating whitey.

    Papa Ray

  33. (Yawn!) Sorry, what were we talking about? Kwa…, uh, what?

  34. i like jim brown’s hat.

    “Moynihan’s point is not that people shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s that Kwanzaa hurts society by promoting divisive attitudes. Hence, he’s happy to see it go.”

    hmmmm. smells kinda collectivsty, if you ask me.

  35. The promotion of Kwanzaa has primarily been an effort by white leftists to manipulate black culture by creating a synthetic race mysticism. Many blacks recognize this fact. Actually in many communities, the holiday has come to be associated almost exclusively w/ black yuppies. It’s not something that most people go for. Also a lot of people see it as a deliberate attempt to supplant Christmas, which is pretty offensive.

  36. Moynihan’s point is not that people shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s that Kwanzaa hurts society by promoting divisive attitudes. Hence, he’s happy to see it go.

    I would like to see evidence that it “hurt” society. Evidence of a higher standard than the kind people use to argue that rock and roll or video games “hurt” society.

    It’s a free country. You can celebrate Adolph Hitler’s birthday (April 20th, mark your calendars) if you want. Doesn’t mean you should.

    Well, that’s a really bad analogy. You should try again.

  37. I’ve read two death-of-Kwanzaa articles today and neither one contains any hard data. How many african-americans celebrate it? Surely someone has asked.

  38. Looks like a typo to me:

    “And it was, when one bothered to figure out just what constituted a specifically African-American holiday, amusing to see that it was a monumentally stupid hybrid of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Franz Fanon.”

    Hanukkah, perhaps?

  39. What is it with the conservative obsession with Kwanzaa? More conservatives bitch about it than actual people that celebrate it.

    Moynihan’s point is not that people shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s that Kwanzaa hurts society by promoting divisive attitudes. Hence, he’s happy to see it go.

    Why not bitch about griping over people saying “Happy Holidays”? That’s more divisive and is about people in the majority being pissed about acknowledging people in the minority (or not being the sole source of acknowledgment).

  40. Those who complain about Kwanzaa remind me of Christians who complain about Scientology or other newer religionist groups. The old cults somehow become “religions” over time, but the new cults remain cults. The old cults (and old holidays) just got there first. It doesn’t make them any better.

  41. Erm | December 24, 2008, 4:46pm | #

    It’s a free country. You can celebrate Adolph Hitler’s birthday (April 20th, mark your calendars) if you want. Doesn’t mean you should.

    I think regular Internet posters should recognize a commemoration of Michael Wayne Godwin (born October 26, 1956) … celebrate!!

  42. I wonder if anyone celebrated Kwanzaa in Esperanto.

  43. I don’t get it. How does any of this have any relation to anything libertarian?

  44. Well, we libertarians already have a non-Godwinian holiday on April 20.

    If you don’t know what I’m talking about, observe that the number of the month is 4 and the number of the day is 20.

  45. If Kwanzaa didn’t exist, conservatives would have to invent it.

  46. Actually, if a truly legitimate African-American holiday is wanted, I wonder how many of you know about the 19th of June – or as is’s known in Texas – Juneteenth?

  47. I wonder how many of you know about the 19th of June – or as is’s known in Texas – Juneteenth?

    It gets lost in the decadent excesses of flag day.

  48. It’s a free country. You can celebrate Adolph Hitler’s birthday (April 20th, mark your calendars) if you want. Doesn’t mean you should.

    As mentioned by thoreau, April 20th is a well known holiday. It is actually fairly widely celebrated certainly not just by libertarians, but all free peoples who like to get lifted.

  49. I don’t get it. How does any of this have any relation to anything libertarian?

    I gather they don’t like holidays.I find both Sullum’s objections to a secular Christmas in the public sphere and Moynihan’s disdain for Kwanzaa to be silly.Everyday should be a holiday.My personal favorite is Groundhog Day.
    Even though I am an agnostic anarchist I’m going to resume celebrating the eve of the birthday of Lord Jesus, King of Kings. Merry Christmas to each and everyone.

  50. I’m shocked and saddened that Mr. Moynihan ended his column with salutes to those who celebrate Christmas, Channukah, and Kwanzaa, but no mention of us Festivus worshippers.

    That’s a grievance for me to air.

    I hereby challenge Moynihan to the Feats of Strength!

  51. Even though I am an agnostic anarchist I’m going to resume celebrating the eve of the birthday of Lord Jesus, King of Kings.

    Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair!

  52. I can’t add anything to that devastating (and much appreciated) insult.

    I can. Merry Christmas!

  53. Mr. Moynihan, Festivus is not over until you have pinned Franklin Harris!

  54. “What about this is libertarian-related.”

    Kwanzaa is set up to promote collectivism. Hence, most libertarians don’t like it. Time for a Christmas Eve nightcap.

  55. “Kwanzaa is set up to promote collectivism. Hence, most libertarians don’t like it. Time for a Christmas Eve nightcap.”

    Dude … what time zone are you in? I’m on my 6th or 7th nightcap.

    Mmmmm … bourbon.

  56. smartass sob | December 24, 2008, 9:23pm | #
    Actually, if a truly legitimate African-American holiday is wanted, I wonder how many of you know about the 19th of June – or as is’s known in Texas – Juneteenth?

    Yup, and I concur as it would be a wonderful holiday to add to our common national traditions as it celebrates freedom.

  57. KWANZAA … that’s up there with the flying spagetti monster. Let me guess, instead of a fat white guy with a beard, we have a thugged-out black guy with a doo-rag

  58. Actually I thought the Seinfeld Festivus episode was mocking Kwanzaa. And while I’m not aware of anyone I’m acquainted with celebrating it, I thought it started getting taken less seriously about that time.

    And since I’m not an actual journalist, I’ll leave it make up some numbers and say that year prior to Festivus was its peak and there are 40% fewer people celebrating that. And this is the Big Chief for the Daily Show. Back to you John, and Merry Christmas.

  59. The only time I came close to a Kwanzaa celebration was during my internship at the Unitarian church — I accompanied the senior minister to buy a Kwanzaa menorah (or whatever they call it) and helped light it during the service the following Sunday. There wasn’t a black person in sight.

  60. “Kwanzaa is set up to promote collectivism. Hence, most libertarians don’t like it.”

    isn’t every holiday collectivist in nature?

  61. If you look at the history of Christmas, its traditions (although perhaps not its genesis) are just as synthetic as Kwanzaa’s were. Much of what we associate with Christmas was invented by retailers such as greeting card companies. What has probably doomed Kwanzaa is that 1) it is not embedded in Black culture the way that Hanukkah is in Jewish culture; and 2)it wasn’t making big bucks for retailers like Christmas does.

  62. How many african-americans celebrate it?

    Nobody knows. At least half a dozen, I’d guess, or twice as many as actually celebrate Festivus.

    It hardly matters. It is (or was) a tribalist “me-too” holiday from the start. Nothing says peace and harmony quite like setting yourself apart from society with a fake-African f?te.

  63. DAD.. wrote, “Of course, it’s been reasonably proposed more than once that Jesus may have been black. It’s certainly a safe bet he wasn’t a European looking caucasian.”

    I think Jesus probably looked, well, Jewish…

  64. BTW it is Frantz Fanon not Franz Fanon.

  65. “Kwanzaa, the decades-old African-American holiday that captured so many dull minds during the Great Culture Wars of the 1990s”

    Those “dull minds” were calling a spade a spade, just as your dull mind is pronouncing an end to a ‘holiday’ manufactured by politically-correct guilty race liberal twits.

    My official pronouncement: Yawn.

  66. I think Jesus probably looked, well, Jewish…

    Remember, the Jewish people you see today in Israel and America are ACTUALLY GERMANS.

    The Palestinians would make MUCH BETTER JESUS CHRIST LOOK-A-LIKE candiates than GERMAN JEWS…who are as Jewish as I am catholic.

  67. Unfortunately, Kwanzaa is alive and well in my children’s 97% white public school district. My 4 year old sang “We wish you a Merry Kwanzaa” at the school’s Holiday program. There was narry a mention of the word “Christmas.”

  68. The article neglects to mention that Kwanzaa became popular under the reign of out nation’s first black president, Bill Clinton. This might explain the emergence of the African holiday on the national scene.

  69. is there the slightest difference between “cooperative economics” and “don’t buy from whitey”?

    i also celebrate april 20. at precisely 4:20 in the afternoon, i perform a pagan ritual!

  70. Thanks for the details on this joke of a holiday.

  71. Merry Christmas to all, I hope yours is doing as well as mine! As to this thread I think Mo hit some nails on the head.

    Look, I think Kwanzaa is silly. For sure. Ron Karenga is a huge fraud and thug. We could talk about that at length.

    But I also understand that a people who have been kidnapped and forcibly removed from their ancestral traditions, languages and “holidays” might, generations later on after having suffered horrible levels of abuse and humiliations heaped on their people, make an attempt to connect to that stuff and yes that their connection might likely be tenous at best (how many Christians are essentially clueless of the pagan roots of so many parts of their fesitvals?). I mean, I’m concerned about someone who would be “outraged” by that.

    By all means, let’s heap scorn on those who, like in Machinegun’s post above, feel some need to gloss over Christmas but give some pc nod to Kwanzaa, but I don’t think scorn is deserved for the many folks who make some genuine attempt to get in touch with their history and take pride in themselves. Especially when such people are, through little fault of their own, in a position where they have no real tie to their history and traditions and are struggling to construct a healthy pride from a horrible past few hundred years for their people.

    Why would Moynihan single out Kwanzaa for this scorn (another question would be why so many posters share this scorn)? I go back and forth between thinking that Moynihan’s “thing” is to feed raw meat to the right wing of libertarianism, to target things that will get them all riled up apart from any neutral principle. So we get endless posts on left wing dictators like Chavez and Castro and relatively few on right wing theocracies such as Saudia Arabia or infringements on basic freedoms that are perpetrated in the Occupied Territories of Palestine on a regular basis (economc freedoms all the time), posts on left wing buffoons that the right-loves-to-hate (Michael Moore) but few on their counterparts. And we get a post like this one deriding a holiday that is really no less silly, divisive or collectivist than many other more traditionally accepted (and therefore more honored by the right, by definition).

    But hey, a simpleton opponent of the rule of law like Chavez does deserve scorn, and so does the deviously partisan fool Michael Moore, and yes there is a great deal of silliness to anything that comes out of Ron Karenga’s mouth. So maybe it’s just a coincidence, or it just happens to be MM’s research interests; he hasn’t time or the expertise to note outrages in principle similar to those of Chavez, or fools similar to Michael Moore, but that have defenders on the right. Maybe that’s whats up.

    But I’d sure feel a lot better if I would see him call out some sacred cows on the right some more.

  72. Isn’t an explicitly black holiday a bit racist?

    My theory is Americans don’t like racism.

    but I don’t think scorn is deserved for the many folks who make some genuine attempt to get in touch with their history and take pride in themselves

    Yeah, but then again the whole Stormfront idea never really took off either either.

  73. MNG: the answer to your excellent question is pretty simple. As this article on Kwanza makes transparent, Reason calls itself libertarian in an effort to associate itself with some of the prestige of the term. In practice, it is merely a run of the mill — albeit well-written — right-leaning journal of opinion.

    I am searching through the Reason archives for a similar (justly deserved) condemnation of Christmas, Hanuka, etc. I’ll post the links here if I find them.

  74. Reason calls itself libertarian in an effort to associate itself with some of the prestige of the term. In practice, it is merely a run of the mill — albeit well-written — right-leaning journal of opinion.

    1) Everybody get your eggnog ready and DRINK!
    2) Hilarious. Half the time Reason is bashed as a lefty mag masquerading as libertarian.

  75. What exactly was the point of this waste of efforts, words, time and space?

  76. Well, I have read all the posts and all I have to say is:

    Happy Kwanzaa to all of my colored friends here at Reason, a right leaning, lefty mag that masquarades as Libertarian!

  77. TallDave
    1. Is an explicitly Jewish holiday a racist one?
    2. Do you think there might be some relevant differences between Stormfront and Kwanzaa? Like the difference between hating those different from you and celebrating your group’s unique heritage/beliefs?

  78. Kwanzaa – seems like the sort of like the pretend religious belief structure around global warming, but for blacks only. Hmm, lets hope the white folks can be as smart and move algore to the trash can sooner rather than later….

  79. 1. Judaism is a religion, not a race.
    2. Would an explicitly white holiday be something to celebrate, or just unnecessarily divisive?

    We should all celebrate Western culture, regardless of pigment. I think Whoopi Goldberg put it best: “I’ve been to Africa. I’m an American, not an African-American.”

  80. Yecch. What an ugly article. I stopped reading National Review years ago to avoid crap like this.

  81. Please don’t desecrate the memory of the greatest of NFL running backs with mentions of his post NFL career – him, OJ – apparently the Hollywood route just doesn’t work out.

  82. I don’t think scorn is deserved for the many folks who make some genuine attempt to get in touch with their history and take pride in themselves

    I don’t either. But celebrating a synthetic holidy invented in the ’60s by a Marxist academic in the US strikes me as a pretty futile way to get in touch with African history.

  83. TallDave
    1. That’s interesting. The Jews don’t consider themselves a “people”, in fact a people chosen by God above all other peoples? I mean, it’s in the prayers they say at many holidays. See you are hung up on a very literal technicality. Both Kwanzaa and many Jewish holidays, in fact many world holidays, celebrate the unique past, traditions, beliefs of a particular group of people.
    2. I think the problem is that some blacks see our dominant holidays AS exclusively white holidays. I guess if I were black I could dig a July 4th holiday about the birth of a “free” nation that kept my ancestors as slaves, or a holiday celebrating an Italian guy who crossed the sea and enslaved brown people, or a holiday about a white guy with a beard who was born in a manger and so these holidays are not technically “exclusively” white, but then I guess a white person would be free to dig the “African” or “black” values at the heart of Kwanzaa too so it’s not exclusively “black.” In fact the “official Kawanzaa” site explicitly says its not an exclusive black holiday.
    http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/faq.shtml#5

    “We should all celebrate Western culture, regardless of pigment.”

    This is a bit much. Obviously your heritage is Western civilization. So is mine. And I myself think it’s the best one for a variety of reasons. But I think you are asking a bit much for people of different cultures to eschew their own and “celebrate Western culture.” African people can and should have pride in African culture, Asian folks in Eastern culture, etc.

  84. It’s one thing to think your culture (the West) is the best one and to expect people to ultimately see its many contributions to the world, but its another thing to expect people not from that culture to not celebrate their own cultures because theirs is “not as good”. That in a nutshell is a problem many conservatives have, they’re tribalists of the worst kind: “my tribe is the best, the only one worthy of adulation and praise.”

  85. “But celebrating a synthetic holidy invented in the ’60s by a Marxist academic in the US strikes me as a pretty futile way to get in touch with African history.”

    I actually agree, but are you going to argue that Christmas (or Easter for example), as celebrated by the average person in the US, is not a synthetic holiday with many of its popularly celebrated parts invented by some strange characters?

  86. What a ridiculous post. Kwanzaa begins today, December 26, 2008. If you dislike the holiday, don’t celebrate it. The idea and practice of a celebration of communal values andcollective work and ethnic pride self-sufficiency in the face of societal oppression and hostility obviously bother you, so there’s no need for you to waste your “pretty mind” on Kwanzaa or any other similar holiday. Perhaps when you figure out that it’s more about AFRICAN-AMERICAN history and culture than AFRICAN history, you’ll start to understand why it came into being in the first place. Oh, and let’s not forget, the torturing and murder and resurrection (yes, I kid you not) of a human being who was also God is the pretext for Easter.

  87. 1. That’s interesting. The Jews don’t consider themselves a “people”, in fact a people chosen by God above all other peoples? I mean, it’s in the prayers they say at many holidays. See you are hung up on a very literal technicality.

    Right ON THE MONEY MNG

    Look at the Israel Mess. The so-called chosen people really do believe THAT GOD gave them Israel…and those pesty palestinians need to SHUT-UP, SIT-DOWN, keep quiet, a be grateful for the refugee camps.

    The same thing is true with the ANTI-SEMITE phase. They want a special word for RACISM that specifically refers to discrimination against them. This way, they can continue to be racist to others.

  88. One can’t help but notice the derisive tone of
    the article. Does a white guy really have the
    moral authority to poke fun at something he
    understands very little?

    Just curious.

    N.

  89. “I wish these negroes would stop balkanizing white society with their rap lingo and African flags. 🙁

    p.s. If I say ‘collectivism’ a couple of times, does that make this a libertarian issue?”
    – M.M.

  90. I actually agree, but are you going to argue that Christmas (or Easter for example), as celebrated by the average person in the US, is not a synthetic holiday with many of its popularly celebrated parts invented by some strange characters?

    I would say they are more syncretic than synthetic.

  91. . . . or a holiday about a white guy with a beard who was born in a manger and . . .

    Jesus was not born in a manger. A manger is a feeding trough for farm animals. Jesus was born in a stable. A manger was used as his make-shift crib.

    I wonder if anyone celebrated Kwanzaa in Esperanto.

    En Usono, ne estas nigruloj kiuj parolas Esperanton, kaj ekster Usono neniu festas Kuxanzaon.

    1. Jesus was not born in a manger.

      Not to mention he wasn’t white.

  92. Waterhouse is obviously of less than average intelligence.

    Happy Kwanzaa everyone.

  93. If you dislike the holiday, don’t celebrate it

    Better yet: challenge it, as this is a blog of ideas. No ideology is immune from criticism. If you invent a silly holiday, you had better be prepared to defend its worthiness, lest it be savaged on this and other sites. Kwanzaa’s few remaining advocates are, apparently, out to lunch, deceased, or in a home for the tribally insane… As it should be in a just universe.

  94. Kwanzaa just seems way too serious for this time of year. Somehow, I can’t see kids getting too excited about it. I’m judging this from a distance, it’s just my impression.

    Not enough drama, not enough fun. Boring…

  95. I don’t have any problem with anybody celebrating Kwanzaa, except for the fact that the publik skools have embraced it, which means that I’m paying to indoctrinate the l’il angels with Kerenga’s version* of communitarianism.

    I’m no christian, but if and when a Catholic or Baptist parent objects to one of his kids having to participate in Kwanzaa festivities at school, while “Christmas pageants” have been tossed down the PC memory hole, I’m going to be sympathetic to the complaint.

    Now, my remedy to all this would be to privatize all the schools, but, hey, I’m from the libertarian wing of the libertarians.

    Kevin

    *What’s with all the Swahili, anyway? That’s an East African languague, right? Wouldn’t most U.S. folks of African descent trace their lineage to the West of that continent, if they could trace it at all, that is?

  96. Kwanzaa was a concocted holiday. Africa never really had any pan-African traditions, its far too tribal.
    Also the languages were historically oral rather than written so there would be no official spelling of the holiday.

    Its simply a Black Identity propaganda ploy.

  97. I am upset each Christmas season by those of other faiths and races trying to compete on my time-turf. If it’s true that Kwanzaa is receding, I’d like to see the same happen to inflated minor holiday of Chanukah.

    If Christians can celebrate Easter with Bunnies and Eggs, surely Jews can come up with something happy for a serious occasion such as Passover or Yom Kippur. Then it will be clear that they are celebrating something important to themselves rather than just trying to compete with Christianity or trying to suppress Christmas.

  98. wow, the author of this piece is so self-righteous and arrogant that I can hardly believe it. Um, who the hell do you think you are? You want to tell us why you disagree with the concepts of multiculturalism, supporting communities and creativity instead of making un-funny sarcastic jibes? This is totally free of analysis, and, once again, you’re kind of an ass.

  99. Kwanzaa? Is this for real? C’mon the blacks need to go back to the motherland. Whites are tired of carrying their dead criminal weight. There are a few smart ones, but mostly they are feeble minded thugs who rape,rob and smoke crack. The prisons are full of them. Kwanzaa? Please!

  100. Wow. ignorance is bliss. Everywhere i go Kwanzaa is still everywhere so we must live in different worlds because it is even across seas now. Just because people with no culture can’t seem to understand other cultures say it is gone,does not mean it is true. And can you please spell Hanukkah correctly. Idiot.

  101. I don’t care much about Kwanzaa either way, but the notion that it’s any more “collectivist” than any other holiday is naive at best, and disingenuous at worst.

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