Jerry Falwell's War On Kwanzaa

Yesterday marked the end of Kwanzaa, the annual weeklong celebration of Pan-African identity and culture that is (sort of) celebrated by the African Diaspora around the world. And all across America, people are asking: Is Kwanzaa getting too commercial?

Actually, not many people are asking that. Kwanzaa is and always has been a relatively low-profile legacy of the 1960s, when black was finally embraced as beautiful and African heritage was reclaimed and celebrated. But where most see a positive if manufactured holiday symbolized by snippets of communitarian philosophy and a menorah-looking thing, Jerry Falwell sees a Marxist plot to rot America from within and, yes, ruin our celebration of the baby Jesus. Even though nobody really thinks much about the holiday, Falwell is urging his army of followers to "rethink" Kwanzaa.

"Kwanzaa," explains Falwell in a recent letter to the Moral Majority Coalition, "is not as innocent as it appears on the surface."

Kwanzaa's creator, UC-Long Beach professor Ron Karenga, has a "very dubious history" dating back to his days in the radical UCLA student group United Slaves, explains Falwell. Partly because of Karenga's radical past, Falwell "cannot accept Kwanzaa as a legitimate American holiday."

"It is corrupt and wholly anti-American," he writes. "There is danger in it."

How much danger? According to the official Kwanzaa website, the holiday "reinforces associated values of truth, justice, propriety, harmony, balance, and reciprocity… It reminds us to hold to our ancient traditions as a people who are spiritually grounded, who respect our ancestors and elders, cherish and challenge our children, care for the vulnerable, relate rightfully to the environment and always seek and embrace the Good."

Sounds dangerous to me, Jerry. Right up there with a suitcase nuke. Thanks for the warning.

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