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One NJ School Decided to Cancel Holiday Names. Does It Help or Hurt?

school classroom
Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

On June 11, a New Jersey school district voted unanimously to remove all holiday names from the academic calendar. The reason behind the decision was so they wouldn’t “have anyone [with] hurt feelings.” This is just one instance of many as more and more institutions move toward being “politically correct.” Many people see issues with this approach, relating it to “cancel culture.” Are these decisions empowering the marginalized groups? Or are they taking away focus from the real problem? Is it even possible to fairly represent everyone at all times?

The cancel culture environment today

Young generations are growing up in a world of uber-politicization. A public figure can be “canceled” — attacked by thousands of angry social media users, boycotted, even fired — for anything. Many victims of cancel culture are not celebrities but regular people who, in some cases, made a mistake or said something out of context.

On the other hand, a lot of people, events and symbols have very good reasons to be canceled. But the way society reacts to these issues has led to the rise of a culture that aims to aggressively shut down, discredit and boycott people and things with no room for debate.

The cancel bandwagon

Another problem many see with this culture is when people with no stake in the issue decide to hop on the “cancel bandwagon,” seeking outrage for outrage’s sake. And because of “virtue signaling,” it’s becoming more difficult to tell when a person really cares about a cause or only supports it to be perceived as a good person.

Does erasing holiday names make a positive difference?

Some people believe cancel culture is detrimental to important socio-political causes. For example, instead of arguing for months over the name of Columbus Day, efforts could be better focused on helping Native Americans who are still being discriminated against in the United States. Changing the names of holidays could be seen as a positive move for this New Jersey school: Some people perceive that they’re at least putting in some effort to promote inclusivity. But opposers say the United States is an incredibly diverse country, and institutions should embrace it instead of trying to neutralize it. 

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