09 December 2006

The Myth of The War on Christmas

The way I see it, religious conservatives are trying to cast themselves as the oppressed victims of secular tyrants. I’m not saying there are some extremists out in this scary world who are trying to separate religion from -well, almost anything. But they are just a bunch of damn crybabies, and should -who ever they may be - just shut up.

There, is in fact, no war on Christmas. This myth of a war is assembled like a Frankenstein monster out of old reactionary images, urban legends, exaggerated anecdotes and increasing hostility to the American Civil Liberties Union. (I believe one of these "entertainers" on FOXNews accused the ACLU - a establishment set up to defend our civil liberties - of being a "terrorist" organization. Hope they won’t need them to protect their civil rights in the future). My research showed that as far back as the 1920's, Henry Ford went on and on about Jews stealing Christmas, while the John Birch Society, formed in the late 1950s, tried to do the same during the Cold War. Both stirred little importance to stop people from shopping. Besides, Birch’s philosophy was considered too extreme even for conservative Barry Goldwater in his 1964 presidential campaign. Those Birchers were denied working on his campaign, as they carried too much of a taint (and if my memory serves me right, Birch also thought that the adding of fluorination to water was part of a "Red" plot to poison America's brains).

Of course, Birch and Henry Ford did not have access to a major television network.

But, sometimes this myth that can be self-fulfilling, as FOXNews will point out ad nauseam. There are school boards and local politicians who believe the false conservative claim that they can't celebrate Christmas without getting sued by the ACLU and thus have jettisoned traditions, which have enraged these citizens, thus perpetuating this culture-war attitude and furthering the myth of an anti-Christmas conspiracy.

In order to prove there is some conspiracy, Gibson and O'Reilly (and others like them) gather these anecdotes from around the country. Some of these are exaggerated, some legitimate, but none support their paranoid claims of a vast secular-humanist conspiracy (melding of concrete documentation and wild speculation is common to conspiracy theorists, by the way).

And, dear Christians (of which I was baptised as), since when does the true meaning and spirit of Christmas have anything to do with retail stores? What does it matter what a Target/Wal-Mart/Macy's clerk says to you? It's not like Jesus was born, and his first words were "Rejoice and be merry - oh, and there is a huge sale at The Pottery Barn." If this holiday is so fragile that two words are all it takes for it to "come under attack", then I think our holiday (and our religion, for that matter) has bigger problems.

Call me when they start shooting Christians in the streets of America every day for being just that. Then, I’ll accept there is a war going on.

Merry Christmas.

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