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Every year around this time, Sweden celebrates the feast of Saint Lucia, a Christian martyr who according to legend brought aid to persecuted Christians in the dead of night, her head adorned by a candle-lit wreath. This is commemorated yearly by a reenactment, usually performed by children, carrying candles and singing Christian songs.
Most major Swedish companies do their best to capitalize on this cutesy tradition, but this year Åhlens, one of the largest department store-chains in the country, decided to go above and beyond the traditional and the ordinary. On the cover of the Christmas edition of their company magazine as well as their website, they chose to use a young black boy as the Lucia-model, dressed in the traditional gown and wreath, and the internet lost its collective mind. The comments ranged from “this is genocide on white people” and “A disgusting affront on Nordic tradition” to the more blunt “You make me puke.” Just a few days after the picture was published it had to be taken down after the boy’s mother asked the company to protect the boy from what ended up being a racist hate-storm.
The brunt of the criticism toward the company was focused on two factors: that there was a boy in a traditionally female role and that the boy was black, whereas the Swedish Lucia-procession traditionally features blond and blue-eyed children.
I wrote about this on my Facebook page, which is a highly homogeneous place, made up of 90 percent conservatives and 10 percent libertarians, and the comments I got made me question the direction the conservative movement is taking. My Facebook friends were upset, or rather offended, that this Christian tradition had been hijacked by “gender-bending leftists,” and the language they used in the debate that followed reminded me of the worst of the others on the other side.
A large chunk were feeling “victimized,” others said that poking fun at Christian traditions should be penalized, and some were saying that this meant that Europe was giving in to cultural relativism.
Let’s walk this back and look at the actual issue.
A young black boy in a dress, representing an old Swedish tradition. From a religious standpoint this is not offensive, as the specific tradition of the procession is modern and doesn’t have Christian roots, therefore the company’s interpretation is a version of a version and not an affront on the origin story. From a political standpoint this is excellent, because what we want is for immigrants to embrace our traditions and participate, and the boy is a representation of that. It is the opposite of putting a blond woman in a hijab, and that should be applauded rather than objected. As for the dress. Well, it’s a five-year-old in a dress, not a statement on transgender issues. Let’s relax about 300 percent.
And finally: This is a private company, not the state, and as conservatives we need to not be calling for intervention in private enterprises, but accept their right the offend whatever sensibilities we have.
This debate is not the first recent example of conservatives adopting the left’s language of victimhood and triggers. Leading up to, during, and after this election we have seen movement on our side toward the progressive paradigm of “if it’s not my thing, it needs to be outlawed” and this goes against the conservative grain and is an insult to our entire movement.
Will a boy in a dress really overthrow our civilization? Is that really our fight? Here I thought we were wise enough to let them occupy streets and have vigils over democratic elections while we actually run things, but lately it seems we are stooping to their level and being beaten by experience.
It’s a boy in a dress, now let’s all relax. The left works in micro, we work in macro, and this obsession with detail and “issues” is a dangerous step toward an anti-ideological society where no one has beliefs but everyone has opinions, and it is up to us to stem that tide.Published in