Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Annual War on Christmas

We’re into the Christmas retail season – and the annual accusations of a “war against Christmas” have begun. A cynical person might find all of this “war on Christmas” hype to be a sure-fire fundraiser for some right wing Christian groups. A cynical person might find this to be a way for Bill O’Reilly and Faux News to get their names up in lights, and liven up the ratings. Cynical or not, the “war on Christmas” like many wars (war on terror, war on drugs) is a manipulation. Follow it through to a logical conclusion – if he evil anti-Christmas forces win, what happens? No more Christmas? HA! The retailers of the world would never stand for it!

In NH we see no signs of this alleged war. The world’s ugliest nativity scene, featuring the world’s whitest baby Jesus will still go up in front of the State House in Concord. Last week Berlin’s annual Christmas parade featured a float with potential gifts and their costs on the front , and a nativity scene bearing the sign “priceless” in the rear of the float; clearly a take-off on the popular credit card ad. The parade’s theme was “Christmas, through the eyes of a child.” It was not “holidays through the eyes of a child.” Apparently they haven’t heard about the “war” on Christmas up in Berlin.
In fact, “Merry Christmas” is the most common greeting one hears from store clerks. It doesn’t seem to be offending anyone – heck, most of us are happy to be greeted politely in a retail setting!

In an effort to continue to fuel the phony war, Bill O’Reilly recently had a good rant on his show about Crate and Barrel stores, where he quoted a spokesperson for the chain, who allegedly said, “We would definitely not say Merry Christmas.” He claimed to have confirmed the quote, and went into lather about how chanting Muslims wouldn’t get handcuffed in Crate and Barrel. In the real world, where oxygen is flowing to the brain, the Crate and Barrel spokesperson was actually saying that C&B has no policy either encouraging or discouraging employees from saying, “Merry Christmas.” Nice job of confirmation, there, Bill. So – what is in it for O’Reilly – why is he perpetuating this nonsense? A simple visit to his website will show you what he holds dear to his heart – HIS WALLET. The Christmas Store section of his site features a number of products for sale, including hats, tee shirts, coffee mugs, doormats, outerwear, and golf balls with the logo “Culture Warrior.” For a mere $54.95, you, too, can purchase one of these sweatshirts. The “Culture Warrior” varsity jacket is a steal at only $159. 95. Gee whiz, a cynical person might get to thinking that he’s perpetuating this nonsense because it lines his pockets. O’Reilly – a crass opportunist? Oh, say it ain’t so.

The site is all about the joys of Christmas, with religion and commerce represented interchangeably. The American Family Association (a right wing Christian group) asked Wal-Mart not to ban the use of “Christmas” in their advertising and promotions. Apparently Sam’s Club (a Wal-Mart subsidiary) wasn’t using the word Christmas often enough to suit the AFA in their advertising. Wal-Mart apparently ignored the letter. Despite this misbehavior on Wal-Mart’s part, I am assured by shoppers that Wal-Mart is crammed with Christmas materials, including plenty of baby Jesus.

This is enough to cause some head scratching, when one gets to seriously pondering. Why are the evangelicals so intent on linking a religious holiday to retail and commerce? One might think they’d want to distance themselves, and their religious celebration from crass commercialism. Shouldn’t the birth of the Christ child be a matter for celebrating in one’s house of worship? Why would they want to link it to whipping out a credit card? Instead, it seems that these evangelicals are trying to blur the lines between religion and retail; a line that most of us realize was crossed some decades ago. They just don’t want to admit it. The use of the inclusive term “holiday” is really all about cleaning out the wallets of practitioners of all religions.

The only evidence I’ve found of a real war, is a story from Colorado . A homeowners association is threatening to fine a woman who has a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace sign on her house. Some of the residents in this subdivision complained about the wreath, calling it a symbol of Satan. Lisa Jensen, of Pagosa Springs, CO, has refused to remove the wreath, saying that she will not be bullied. Apparently the residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq. These people seem to be playing right into the war on Christmas – after all, isn’t Christmas supposed to be about the birth of Christ? Isn’t he often referred to as “the prince of peace”? If that is the case, how then, can a peace wreath be a symbol of Satan?

I wish you joy and common sense in this holiday season.

“Next to a circus, there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit.” Kin Hubbard


Anonymous said...

Much ado about nothing. If I want to say Christmas or decorate for same, I will, regardless of any flack.

And so should you.

Political correctness is best when ignored. Even the peace sign wreath complaints are ridiculous. Whatever happened to freedom of expression? It's not a swastika for gosh sakes!.

Jim Fuge/Durango Col. said...

Susan, Feel free to post my little play on the Grinch.
JIm Fuge

The Peace Wreath

Every Loma at Lindaville liked Peace a lot

But the Grinch and his Cronies certainly DID NOT!

This Grinch hated Peace!

The whole Peacetime season!

Now please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason!

It could be perhaps he just liked to fight, or

Maybe his head was screwed on to the Right.

But we think the most likely reason of all

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

No matter the reason.

His heart or his head,

He felt really bad, and troubled instead.

The more the Grinch dwelled on the Peace Sign thing

the more he ached to stop the whole thing!

"I must stop this Peace Wreath from being,...but how!

"I know what I'll do, I won't stand this abuse"

He thunked to himself "All I need's an excuse"

He looked for an excuse to take the Wreath down.

But, since excuses are scarce there were none to be found.

Did that stop this ol' Grinch...?

NO! The Grinch simply said

"If I can't find an excuse I'll make one instead!"

He did better than that, he made a Big List,

and Right here they are, and some we have missed.

The Wreath may offend, or it might not be nice,

it might be for Pagans, who drink wine with ice!

Maybe it's code, all secret and sneaky,

Maybe these Loma's are just being cheeky!

Then he fired his cronies (who weren’t so uptight),

They said it’s not bad, but the Lights kept him up nights!

He puzzled and twisted and puzzled some more,

He listed excuses, till his Puzzler was sore.

Then finally his Puzzler hit on the Thing!

Maybe really this Wreath’s not such a bad Zing!

Maybe Peace to the World isn’t so bad,

Maybe Peace to the World, shouldn’t make him so Mad!

Imagine; a world where folks spoke up for Peace!

Like Lisa, the Loma, with her Peace Wreath!

And what happened then...?

In Lindaville they say

That the Grinch's small heart

Grew three sizes that day!

And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight

He could answer his phone and not hide all the night!

He stopped all his Trickzies, and called off his goons

...and he hung back the Wreath, by the light of the moon!

Jim Fuge

susanb said...

Right you are anonymous.

Jim Fuge - your play on the Grinch is brilliant!! Thank you so much - can I share it? I'll credit you, of course.