November’s Robert O’Brien Trophy (formerly known as the Idiot of the Month Award) will, for the first time, be awarded to a group of people rather than to a specific person. In fact, it will be awarded not to a specific organization or group, but to a rather amorphous and undefined group of people who seem to be everywhere these days. I’ll call them the Paranoid and Righteous Defenders of Christmas (PRDC). These are the folks who are screaming bloody murder over the alleged plot to destroy Christmas in America, a plot that appears to exist primarily in their delusions.
The ridiculous rhetoric over this non-issue began in earnest last year and has only increased this year. This fantasy world of paranoia is pushed by the likes of John Gibson, the dimwitted Fox News reporter and author of a book with the breathlessly absurd title The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought. Egads, those damn liberals are out to ban Christmas! It’s an outrage! Well no, actually, it’s not. It’s a false claim that is tailor made for use by demagogues like Gibson, Pat Buchanan and William Donohue to whip their ignorant followers into a frenzy.
First of all, one must ask what their main piece of evidence is for this alleged “war on Christmas”. Surely if it’s a war, there must be major battles going on. Roving bands of terrorists blowing up christmas trees? Liberal special forces units invading churches and dynamiting their nativity scenes? Secularist commando units attacking groups of carolers? Well…no. The main argument for this alleged war on Christmas is….drumroll please….department stores putting “Happy Holidays” on their advertisements instead of “Merry Christmas” (pause for the gasps of horror). That’s it? Yep, that’s it.
Here’s Pat Buchanan making a brave leap from a reasonable decision by a department store to some breathtakingly hyperbolic rhetoric last year:
Now Macy’s has stopped using the phrase “Merry Christmas” in all store advertising, replacing it with what Macy’s calls the more inclusive “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays.”
But how is it “inclusive” to exclude the Christians’ greeting? Is that not anti-Christian? Why would the Macy’s of the “Miracle on 34th Street” do such a thing? Why would Federated Department Stores, Macy’s parent company, impose such a policy?
By Newton’s laws of motion, an object moving in a given direction will continue to do so unless an outside force intervenes. What hidden force intervened to cause Macy’s to reverse course and suddenly sever its ties to Christmas? Who insisted that Macy’s cease to mention Christmas, the holiday around which its selling season is built?
It is hard to believe some Macy’s executive took it upon himself to make so offensive a decision as to expunge “Merry Christmas” from the store, when so many of Macy’s most loyal shoppers were certain to be disheartened and hurt. Who is trying to kill Christmas?
It needs to be said. What we are witnessing here are hate crimes against Christianity – the manifestations, the symptoms of a sickness of the soul, a disease a Vatican diplomat correctly calls “Christianophobia,” the fear and loathing of all things Christian, coupled with a fanatic will to expunge from the public life of the West all reminders that ours was once a Christian civilization and America once a Christian country.
Okay Pat, climb down off that cross. Jesus was crucified, you weren’t, and frankly you’re much more suited to playing the bully than the victim. For crying out loud, this is so over-the-top in its self-righteous rage that it reads like a parody. The only thing missing is Dana Carvey in drag (“Who could be behind this infernal plot, hmm? Who would possibly want to destroy our ability to celebrate the birth of little Baby Jesus, hmmm? Who could it be? Oh, I don’t know…. maybe…. SATAN?”) to complete the caricature.
Is it really so hard to believe that a Macy’s executive looked at some of their basic demographic research and found that, with their stores exclusively located in large cities, their customers were a pretty diverse group with a large percentage of them being non-Christian? Is it really so strange that a major retailer would want to make their appeal as broad as possible, to encompass not only those shopping for Christmas but also those shopping for Hannukah or Kwanzaa gifts too? If this seems completely out of the question to ol’ Pat, I would suggest it can only be because he has no understanding how how advertising and marketing folks think.
You will surely not be surprised to hear that the Worldnutdaily is squarely in the Defenders of Christmas camp. Last year, they threw a fit over the White House’s “Christ-less Christmas” because – and no, I’m not making this up – the pictures on the White House website of the nativity scene erected in the East Room didn’t show the baby Jesus prominently enough. This year, in the first of what I’m sure will be dozens of such articles, they’re pushing a boycott of Wal Mart because, like Macy’s, they’ve chosen to use slogans like “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.
This boycott is called for by William Donohue, the increasingly loony leader of the Catholic League. He actually claims that by saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”, Wal-Mart is engaging in “discrimination”, which can only bring to mind the words of Inigo Montoya – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” And their evidence? Once again, a website is the key to the whole thing:
He points out, and WND confirmed, that when using the company’s online search engine, if the world “Hanukkah” is entered, 200 items for sale are returned. The term “Kwanzaa” yields 77. But when “Christmas” is entered, the message returned says: “We’ve brought you to our ‘Holiday’ page based on your search.”
But even the Worldnutdaily was smart enough to look just a tad bit deeper than that:
However, the search also brings up a secondary link on which to click, which reveals 7,970 items that match the “Christmas” term. When WND entered the name “Jesus,” 5,668 items were displayed.
And these are from prominent religious right leaders and thinkers. If this kind of lazy and shoddy propaganda is being put out by them, imaging what is being generated by their halfwit followers on the hundreds of webmags that host their rants and raves. Actually, don’t imagine it. Let me show you. Here’s one Charles Cole, one of the thousands of little Ann Coulter wannabes on the internet, writing in the American Daily:
Have you noticed that this Christmas season seems to be the climax of a multiyear assault on religion in America? If a store puts up a simple “Christmas tree”, not to mention one with an angel at the top, the ACLU threatens to sue and the owner (or company) usually cowers under the legal threat and removes the “offending” object (be that a tree, a baby Jesus, a crèche, or even a “Merry Christmas” sign).
This, of course, is a flat out lie. The ACLU has never, ever, under any circumstances, threatened or filed a lawsuit against a private business for any sort of holiday display. I emailed Cole and offered to send him a large sum of money if he could document just one such incident. I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I got no reply.
So to all of these brave Defenders of Christmas, I present to you the Robert O’Brien Trophy for stupidity above and beyond the call of duty. It would be easy to compare these intrepid culture warriors to Don Quixote, atop their horses to joust with windmills that they believe to be giants sent by evil sorcerors. But I think a more accurate comparison is to Sancho Panza, Quixote’s squire, who knows that Quixote is crazy. Panza knows that the windmills aren’t really giants and he knows that the beautiful Dulcinea doesn’t really exist, but he plays along. Why? Because he hoped to get rich. For the William Donohues and Jerry Falwells of the world, weaving frightening tales of evil giants sent by Satan to destroy Christmas for their ignorant followers, the comparison seems quite apt. And perhaps it establishes that the award should truly go to their followers, who lap up such nonsense without question.
Here’s a simple fact that they are probably uniformly unaware of. In their zeal to claim that destroying Christmas is part of erasing “America’s Christian heritage”, they would probably be shocked to know that celebrating Christmas was viewed in many of the early colonies as an abomination. The Puritans were strongly against this holiday, arguing that it was based upon pagan practices (and it was) and was therefore a sin to celebrate. Indeed, for many years in the early Massachusetts Bay Colony it was a crime to celebrate Christmas, punishable by a fine. It was also banned throughout England in the mid-1600s. Isn’t it ironic that these folks who think they’re standing up for America’s “Christian heritage” would have been viewed by many Christians at the time of our founding to be engaging in the celebration of heathen and pagan festivals?