by Emanuele Mastrangelo

It happens in a Roman preschool. Some teachers at the municipal institution seized and hid from view a Nativity scene that a little girl had brought for her classmates.

The affair began last year, when some teachers said the nativity scene would not be done because "someone might be offended" and they were not doing "divisive things." Within two months, war broke out in Ukraine and the same teachers, without asking the parents, sided the preschool with Kiev, complete with a yellow-and-blue flag for the children to paint. Ideological indoctrination (rainbow flags, "peace march"...) without any educator feeling the need to ask (and wonder) if any child's families had Russian members or friends - or simply favored a neutral position in the Moscow-Kiev diatribe. So, one-way "secularism." The nativity scene "can be divisive." The flag of a warring faction cannot.

So this year some parents called for a change. The children, it was said in the school assembly, are not doing anything that is constructive from the point of view of their identity as Italians. They have learned the rainbow flag but not the Italian flag. They know all about Halloween and Santa Claus but nothing about traditional religious but also civil holidays (such as April 25 and May 1). They have been dressed up but carefully avoiding the masks of the Italian carnival tradition. Finally, they made a kind of parodistic "secular nativity scene" of inclusion but the traditional Italian one was rejected.

If a child is Italian, he has the right to grow up and socialize in his culture of origin. If a child is not Italian but his family wishes to integrate, to be deprived of the opportunity to learn about and socialize in the host culture is to do him a disservice. Finally, even if a child is not Italian and his family - legitimately - does not want to Italianize, still he will have a great benefit in learning about what is the culture and tradition of his little classmates.

Words fallen on deaf ears. On the contrary. A fuss was raised by some educators. The request to include identity elements in the program was ignored but without an open "yes" or "no."

However, parents are left with the path of "participatory activities." That is, those in which a parent takes an active part. Thus, a project for collective work is presented to the school coordinator: natural materials brought by the children (barks, pine cones, twigs, pebbles...) and figurines to be assembled in the classroom to build the diorama.

The coordinator replied in a pilatesque manner, "The educators have already decided on the Christmas activity. It will be an opportunity to exchange greetings. However, your proposal was highly appreciated." Needless to add, the "Christmas" activity radically excluded any reference to the Nativity. Only Santas, reindeer and red balls. To the proposal made by the parent to the teachers there was no response on the merits. Not even the decency of two lines to justify the denial. "The school is open to parent proposals and activities," but if these do not please the Central Committee of senior teachers (those who even manage to silence the principal during assemblies...), there is no "no thank you" either. Fin de non-recevoir. And yet, in spite of the obvious ideological and anti-Christian hatred matrix of this stubborn closure, the coordinator went out of her way to justify her submissions, "There is no prejudice toward the Nativity scene."

Fine, if there is not, they will have no objection if a little girl brings her classmates a nativity scene made together with her daddy. So, on December 7, a little girl, V., entered the preschool with a nativity scene measuring more than three feet by forty inches: Holy Family, shepherds and Wise Men firmly glued to a bed of barks on a base of sturdy wooden planks. Behind them, a blue sky with winter constellations animated by small stack lights. Over all, a comet star and some verses from the Adeste Fideles. A gift for all children. For those who are religious but also for those who are not. After all, "there is no prejudice...."

Instead, as soon as the parent left the preschool, the cancel culture was triggered: the Nativity scene was seized and hidden from the children's view. Like it was a blob of hashish. Like it was a porn magazine. No one saw fit to notify the father by phone, who only discovered the nativity scene's misappropriation in the afternoon, when picking up the child at exit time. To the protests of the parent - who also saw the grounds for embezzlement, since the scene is private property and there was no element of "dangerousness" in its structure - teachers and janitors closed themselves in a stubborn secrecy: neither the perpetrators of the seizure nor who had given the order could be known. The scene is still locked up in a room and it has not been possible to get it back.

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Emanuele Mastrangelo is editor-in-chief of "Storia in Rete" since 2006. Military-historical cartographer, he is author of several books (the last one, with Enrico Petrucci, is Iconoclastia. La pazzia contagiosa della cancel culture che sta distruggendo la nostra storia) and edited Eroi. 22 storie dalla Grande Guerra and Terra benedetta. Storie d'Italia e di italiani.