If you happened to be shocked by a story that first appeared Thursday in Lancaster Online with the tabloidish headline “Jewish family leaves Lancaster County in fear after being blamed for cancellation of Hempfield elementary Christmas play,” and in Penn Live with the headline “Jewish family fears for safety after school cancels ‘A Christmas Carol’ show,” you can relax – it didn’t happen.
It began with a reporter for Lancaster Online who spoke with the Jewish family in question and wrote that their child had been “harassed by classmates” since the cancellation of A Christmas Carol in November, and that they had left the county out of concern.
What was their concern?
Fox News called it “SCROOGE! Grade school cancels performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’” and reported that “Parents told local reporters the play was canceled because two parents complained about a line in the Charles Dickens holiday classic.” The allegedly offensive line? Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, every one.”
Yes, Virginia, there are no facts in our world any more, which means there could well be a Santa Claus.
Principal Tom Kramer, trying to respond to the pre-pogrom headlines, posted an announcement where he noted that “Our decision is rooted in the desire to be respectful of the many cultural and religious backgrounds represented by the students attending Centerville Elementary.”
To which Fox News responded: “That’s a mighty big clue, folks. In order to be tolerant and diverse, public schools have to eradicate any mention of God.”
It didn’t help that the Hempfield School District announced in a carefully crafted Q&A on the story: “Was it a complaint about the line ‘God bless us, every one!’ that prompted reassessment of the play? Absolutely not.” Because it required reading and fact checking, and who has time for all that truthy nonsense.
The same school district also stated: “Was there a religious issue in the complaint? There was no complaint. Questions were asked about play processes and procedures. The decision had nothing to do with a religious concern; rather, the decision was made due to the amount of instructional time that this non-curricular activity had grown to require.”
Again, who cares about the facts?
ADL issued a clarifying press release about the numerous local and national news stories reporting on a Jewish family who “fled” Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, fearing retribution after being wrongfully blamed for the cancellation of the school production of A Christmas Carol, saying it investigated, and found that “in actuality, the family left on vacation for winter break.”
“News reports alleging that a Jewish family has ‘fled’ Lancaster County are untrue and damaging,” said Nancy Baron-Baer, ADL Regional Director. “We spoke with the family, who explained that they went on a previously planned vacation for the holidays. Stories like this can sow fear in the Jewish community and beyond, and it is important to stop the spread of misinformation.”
“There is no truth to the rumor that the school cancelled A Christmas Carol at the request of parents. The Hempfield School District released a FAQ clearly stating that the play was cancelled due to the inordinate amount of class time taken up by rehearsals. We commend the district for setting the record straight.”
Mari A. Schaefer, of Philly.com, reminded her readers that “on Dec. 5, Edgar M. Welch of Salisbury, N.C, was arrested after he fired an assault rifle in a pizza restaurant in northwest Washington D.C. after reading a fake-news story that said suggested Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of the location.”
Will the next pogrom be the result of a viral tweet, YouTube clip or a Facebook post? Ask Virginia.