In the Dec. 30 letter, “Overbearing demand on Christmas,” Usman Makhdoom bemoans The Japan Times’ decision to run Kevin Rafferty’s Dec. 24 op-ed article, “A thought for the holy day” (about the religious meaning of Christmas). Why does Makhdoom label it “overbearing” and a “rant”?
I’ve seen many examples of thin-skinned Christophobia in the media, but in terms of sheer hostility, Makhdoom’s letter takes the cake. Makhdoom says Japan is not a Christian country and, therefore, The Japan Times should not have run Rafferty’s piece. But this paper’s main audience is presumably not the Japanese citizenry, but rather Japan’s expat community — a large percentage of which either are Christians themselves or, at the very least, come from countries with an undeniably prominent Christian cultural heritage. As such, an op-ed about Christmas’ religious significance is not at all out of place.
If Makhdoom’s Christophobia renders him too delicate to handle commentary such as Rafferty’s, he should have stopped reading at the headline or the first paragraph — both of which made clear the piece’s topic. Freedom of the press and of religion both exist in Japan, but no one has the right to NOT be offended by op-ed pieces about a religion that one dislikes.
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