The Good Fight

When I first heard that Fox News anchor/Rottweiler Bill O’Reilly and others were up in arms about the “war on Christmas,” I was ready to pen an angry, hate-filled screed about separation of church and state, multiculturalism, and American culture. Oh, it would have been fantastic — a rhetorical thunderbolt delivered from the heights of Mount Blog. But answering charges of a war on Christmas by … um … going to war on Christmas isn’t productive, is it?

So let’s stay positive and productive. First, I’m glad that certain people are observing the traditional Airing of Grievances. But holiday traditions aside, I’d rather not see Bill O’Reilly wrestle anybody. I want to keep my holiday eggnog down.

And that’s the nub, apparently. The evangelicals are upset because people say “holiday” instead of “Christmas,” unfairly traipsing on the tender sensibilities of those who are quietly celebrating the birth of Christ while American parents try to find creepy simulacra at bargain-basement prices.

But since these the faithfuls’ feelings are so deeply hurt, I’m not going to worry them further with rhetorical slings and arrows. I’ll just ask a few questions.

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First, there’s the White House holiday card. According to the Washington Post, people are upset because the card talks about a “holiday season” rather than Christmas. According to the article, editor Joseph Farah is particularly upset because the Bushes are born-again Christians, but don’t acknowledge Christ in the card. Thus, my first question: If Joementum makes propels Sen. Lieberman into the presidency, then should the card addressed to Joseph Farah wish him a Happy Hanukkah?

Then, at the American Family Association’s Web site, I find that certain scurrilous retailers don’t mention Christmas very often in their displays, even going so far as to instruct employees to eschew “Merry Christmas” in favor of “Happy Holidays.” Call me an antifaith lout, if you will, but I can’t help noticing that a lot of people — Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and others — peruse the holiday Christmas bargains, some for a holiday, some not. Which makes me wonder: Should a business instruct its employees to guess the specific holiday, if any, that a person is celebrating, and greet that person appropriately?

According to the same piece, the vigilant AFA also pressured Macy’s and other retailers to hold “Christmas” sales, rather than “holiday” sales. We’ve seen the usual reports of sale-related tramplings. As you can guess, another question: Is it better to be trampled during a “holiday” sale or a “Christmas” sale?

And the megachurches offer something new … no Christmas services? I’ll let that one stand without further question, as I have plenty more questions for those fighting the war for Christmas.

Another thought occurs. The AFA et. al. seem overly concerned with making sure Christmas is mentioned in commerce, in government, and elsewhere. In my own experience, the most enjoyable Christmas celebrations revolve around gathering the family, exchanging gifts, perhaps attending church … but generally with family. Which makes me wonder what the Christmas priority is Bill O’Reilly and his fellow partisans. You guessed it. Another question: Is public acknowledgment of Christmas essential to the personal celebration of the holiday?

Then there’s the spirit behind this strident defense of a holiday that involves a manger, a tree, and a fat man in a red suit. After years of this society’s trying to accommodate citizens who were inconsiderate enough to put their holidays (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice) at the end of the year, the Christmasers now tell us that we’re not supposed to offend them. Could somebody please tell me: Which groups is it permissible to exclude, and why?

On further reflection, the battle to save Christmas strongly resembles the older fights (think 1980s, 1990s) to preserve the tender sensibilities of minority groups with gender-neutral or otherwise inclusive terms. The conservative wing certainly hurled invective and ridicule in the direction of the forces of political correctness. So … um … How does this effort to prevent offense differ from the political correctness causes of the late twentieth century?

I’m a devout secularist, so I’m not really qualified to answer any of these questions. In fact, I’d be interested in getting some answers to them. Or maybe I’m just want a traditional holiday, too.

Cross-Posted to

Despite what his girlfriend says, Pennywit maintains that he’s NOT a holiday Grinch.

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