Our civilization is suffering what could be called a cultural death by a thousand cuts. The open sores are ubiquitous, but what happens to irk me at this moment is that quite some time ago I learned that my birth date is not what my parents always told me it was. Moreover, no one else’s is either. You see, those who are contemptuous of tradition have decided to take it upon themselves to change our calendar and replace B.C. [Before Christ] and A.D. [Anno Domini] with B.C.E. [Before the Common Era] and C.E. [The Common Era].
The latter two designations probably aren’t new to you, since they have found favor with pseudo-intellectual academics and seem to be in every new documentary and in many new books. And if you’re taking the time to read this, the reasoning behind their adoption probably isn’t new to you either. The idea is that B.C. and A.D. are reflective of Christianity, and since not everyone is Christian, it’s insensitive and religio-centric to use them. Well, mercy me! We’ll just have to relegate our culture to the dustbin of history lest we offend someone with our existence. After all, it’s obviously better to perish as a civilization than to meet our maker with the burden of having offended left-wing sensitivities weighing on our souls.
All joking aside, their reasoning is the epitome of specious logic. B.C. and A.D. certainly are reflective of Christianity, but everything is reflective of something. For instance, since we’re talking about our calendar, it’s instructive to note that every single month’s name is of Roman origin. A few examples: July and August were named after Julius and Augustus Caesar. January and March were named after Janus and Mars, the Roman pagan gods of war, and of gates and doors and entrances and exits, respectively. September, November and December are named after the Latin [which was the language the Romans spoke] words for seven, nine and ten, respectively. Should we rename our months? After all, relatively few people are of Roman descent.
Then there’s the fact that we use the Roman alphabet [although they learned it from the Etruscans] and Arabic numerals [invented by the Hindus, most likely]. Yet, I never hear anyone say that we should dispense with those designations because they might offend those not of Roman, Etruscan, Arabic or Hindu lineage. Or, how about the fact that English, which is spoken in all corners of the Earth now, bears the name of a people on a small island in the Atlantic?
And what about our cities and states? Many of them bear names that are reflective of Christian influence: Los Angeles [the Angels], Sacramento [the Sacraments] and Corpus Christi [the Body of Christ], to name a few. But, then, some are reflective of French influence, such as Baton Rouge and Louisiana; some are reflective of American Indian influence, such as Chappaqua, Saratoga, Illinois, Texas and twenty-five other states; some are reflective of Spanish influence, such as Palo Alto, Los Alamos and over two-thousand other places. And, of course, there’s the fact that our country was named after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci. There go those Italians again, hogging all the influence.
Methinks much offense can be taken, so some remedial action is in order. Here are my suggestions: our months should be renamed and referred to as “Common Month One,” “Common Month Two,” etc. Then, our alphabet can be called “the Common Alphabet,” our numbers “the Common Numerals” and English “the Common Language.” Then we must resolve to rename our states “Common State One,” “Common State two,” all the way up to fifty, assigning them the Common Numbers based on the order in which they entered our Common Union. The end of this good start – but only the beginning of a journey toward total sensitivity – will be to take the lead among nations and rename America “Common Nation 192.” Why Common Number 192? Well, that’s how many nations exist at present, and we wouldn’t want to be so insensitive as to take Common Number One for ourselves simply because we were so privileged as to be sensitive first. Now, I don’t expect other nations to follow suit immediately, but I reckon that when our common-sense extends across the Common Oceans and to the common folk, Common Continents one through six will become sensitized to sensitivity.
But my sense of whimsy has gotten the better of me. So, let’s transition from the ridiculous to the sublime . . . about the ridiculous. In reality, none of the above would work because the salient point is, once again, that EVERYTHING is reflective of something. If you’re going to name something the Common Era, you must ask, common to whom? After all, our calendar [the Gregorian] is not the only one in existence. Jews, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and others have their own calendars, and I’m confident that we could find some devout Jews and Muslims who would maintain that our Gregorian calendar isn’t common to them.
Of course, the question that most begs to be asked here is, what event are we dating the Common Era from? Answer: the approximate birth date of Jesus of Nazareth! To try to obscure that fact and erase our past by manipulating terminology is dishonest, and is another example of the most invidious sort of revisionist history. Moreover, the reasoning behind this element of social-engineering is so flawed and involves such an obvious double-standard that it could only be accepted by second-rate minds. It so drips of contempt for tradition and Christianity that it could only be truly palatable to a bigot. That’s why it may seem ironic that it was originated by a few theologians, but it isn’t really. For, there are some ideas that are so irreligious that only a theologian could think of them.
Before I conclude, I must add that you don’t have to be religious to consider this change to be an affront; you simply have to be an American who cares about his culture and traditions. And we should be mindful of the fact that other nations do not share the disordered compulsion to relinquish their culture for fear of offending others. Now, the question is, since taking this leaf out of their book is a prerequisite for our national survival, do we have the capacity to cultivate the same strength in ourselves?
Well, a good first step toward that goal is understanding the following: everything offends someone and most everyone is offended by something. Why, I’m offended by the fact that cultural terrorists are denuding our cultural landscape of the things closest to the American heart. The fact is that what’s offensive is very subjective. This explains why our preoccupation with avoiding giving offense has degenerated into a never-ending battle that inures us to untruth, injustice and the un-American way.
Could you imagine the Islamic world shedding its traditions under the pretext of tolerance and sensitivity? Are we, for some inexplicable reason, to be the only nation that has no right to its culture? A.D. and B.C. have been in use for fifteen-hundred years. For some left-wing academics to come along and presume that they have a right to remake this and whatever else doesn’t suit their transitory fancies is outrageous. It’s almost as outrageous as the fact that most of us stand idly by and do nothing to resist their machinations.
It is not only our right but our duty to protect the great and good that dozens of generations of our ancestors have bequeathed to us. And we would do well to remember that civilizations rise and fall; they are born, mature, age and die. If we want to preserve ours, we had better stand and be counted and tend to her cultural health. If we will not, perhaps it really is our time to walk quietly into the night. And if so, our epitaph just may read: Oh, principled were we, we wouldn’t bend, we were sensitive till the end.
© 2004 - Selwyn Duke - All Rights Reserved
Selwyn Duke lives in Westchester County, New York. He's a tennis professional, internet entrepreneur and writer whose works have appeared on various sites on the Internet, including Intellectual Conservative, nenewamerica.us (Alan Keyes) and Mensnet. Selwyn has traveled extensively in his life, visiting exotic locales such as India, Morocco and Algeria and quite a number of other countries while playing the international tennis circuit.