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Roland S. Martin is a CNN commentator who is coming late to the War on Christmas.

The name Roland Martin reminds me of Rowan and Martin. I’m pretty sure that is why Rowan S. Martin uses the “S.” .. so people don’t think of Rowan and Martin when they hear his name.

Rowan and Martin were funny in their day. Roland S. Martin is not funny. Yet it is hard to not laugh at the guy.


In a recent commentary, Martin whines …

Because of all the politically correct idiots, we are being encouraged to stop saying “Merry Christmas” for the more palatable “Happy Holidays.” What the heck are “Seasons Greetings”? Can someone tell me what season we are greeting folks about? A Christmas tree? Oh, no! It’s now a holiday tree. Any Christmas song that even remotely mentions Christ or has a religious undertone is being axed for being overtly religious. And I’m sorry, forget X-M-A-S. Malcolm X? Yes. X replacing Christ? No.

Roland does not know that Xmas is actually a standard way to write Christmas by those who wish to pay hommage to the early Greek scriptures, or who wish to not take The Lord’s name in vain by writing it out. But never mind that.

The point he’s missing, obviously, is that we live in a society in which we try to separate personal matters of worship from the common public discourse as a matter of respect. In this area, Roland is a hypocrite.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m very respectful of other religions. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of discussing the Jewish faith when we address Hanukkah. And we shouldn’t dismiss Muslims when the annual pilgrimage to Mecca is held during December. In fact, Americans are so ignorant of other faiths that we can all learn from one another.

But this seeming backlash against Christianity is bordering on the absurd, and we should continue to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Well, this is wrong in so many ways. For starters, I don’t think Roland would be very happy if every single time he ran into a store clerk or other service person for about three weeks out of the year, they wished him a happy Ramadan. After all, Roland is an African American, and a lot of African Americans are Muslim, right? A reasonable assumption.

It is wrong because this is not a holiday season based on Christ. It is a time when Christians fudge their own calender to place the alleged birth of their savior into a pre-existing holiday period that derives from closely associated cultures.

Perhaps Roland is merely engaged in wishful thinking. If everyone was a Yahooistic Christian (as opposed to a non-Christian or a regular person who happens to be Christian) then more people would buy his latest book, which is a “compilation of faith-based essays” in which he addresses such important points as “the real meaning of the prayer of Jabez” and “Don’t just thank God, represent Him” and “Rediscovering the “C” in YWCA” and my favorite, “Spiritual warfare: Stay prepared for life’s battles.”

It is rather amazing that CNN has Roland as a commentator on their network. He is a jingoistic preacher who insists that everyone else acts like Christians even if they are not. No, not just act like Christians, but act like his particular odoriferous brand of Christian.

I do appreciate one point in Roland’s essay. He asks people to consider not spending so much on gifts, but instead, using that money and effort for something more worthwhile. But again, he muddles the point. For one thing, I’m sure Roland’s preference would be for people to give Him (Roland, not God) the money, or to funnel it through a Christian church. But of more immediate importance is the fact that Roland has utterly conflated secularism with capitalism:

America might be the king of capitalism, but secularism must never become so prevalent that our religious traditions are discarded.

Wow, he really does not get it. Secular thinking and secular people are associated with a much, much broader range of political and economic philosophies than are Christians, ranging form Free Market Worshiping Libertarians, to Secular Humanists to Godless Communists. Heavy-duty fundementalists, on the other hand, are almost all (like, 98%) Rebpulicans. And almost all (like, 98%) of Republicans are wanton running dog capitalists.

Roland, give me a break! Oh, and have a nice Kwanza.

Comments

  1. #1 Shelley Batts
    December 21, 2007

    Seems that he’s pursuing also masters degree at a non-accredited Baptist university. Sounds like money well-spent.

  2. #2 Shelley Batts
    December 21, 2007

    _correction_
    *a* masters, that is

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2007

    Yes, I understand his masters degree will be in debating.

  4. #4 jane
    December 21, 2007

    I’m so glad that you and at least one other blogger who also did a great exigesis of his piece noticed the flaws and are correcting them. I don’t like any article that starts with namecalling (“idiots”–wow, that’s very Christian), and I couldn’t believe that he would rail against Xmas without checking it out first to be sure he was right on that point. That caused me to consider how I’m familiar with X (and also the chi-rho, and IHC) because I was raised Lutheran; it would make sense to see less Greek symbols in the newer churches such as Baptist. But it’s awfully narrow minded to condemn that with which your unfamiliar – and not worthy of a CNN columnist.

  5. #5 Lorax
    December 21, 2007

    Jesus is the reason for the season.
    I just love this for the reason you mentioned. I also like the implicit reasoning here and how wrong it is. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and also love and giving and joy. Therefore, without Christ we wouldn’t have love and giving and joy. This is a current frame of the christian community, and often phrased “without Christ there is no love, giving, joy, etc.” It clearly didn’t exist the day before Christ was born, which explains the fact someone gave Mary and Joseph free shelter (I know, it wasn’t the Hyatt Regency, but from the story they weren’t left on the street). Someone should tell Rolley that the reason for the season is because people don’t suck, well some people suck and they tend to enforce the “Merry Christmas” greeting. Happy Holidays Dr. Laden.

  6. #6 Jessa
    December 21, 2007

    I find it highly amusing that the degree he’s pursuing is “Christian communications”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Based on his commentary, he definitely needs further education in communication. Although if it’s “Christian” communication, this drivel may be what they have in mind.

  7. #7 Samuel F B Morse
    December 21, 2007

    An offensive dit? Don’t you mean an offensive dit-dit-dit?

  8. #8 razib
    December 21, 2007

    After all, Roland is an African American, and a lot of African Americans are Muslim, right? A reasonable assumption.

    27% of muslims are black, but only 1% of blacks in america are muslim.
    http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/images/image037.gif

    there are more black catholics than muslims.

  9. #9 Ex-drone
    December 21, 2007

    Martin writes:

    Because of all the politically correct idiots, we are being encouraged to stop saying “Merry Christmas” for the more palatable “Happy Holidays.”

    Wow. Not exactly cutting edge commentary. Wikipedia says the “christmas controversy” has been going on since 1999. O’Reilly has been scratching that rash since 2005 and recently declared victory in the “War”. Maybe Martin will write some ground-breaking editorials on Hippies or women’s suffrage.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2007

    razib: [insert] .. in the United States.

    (Oh, Razib knows this but for those just checking in, I was being cynical…)

  11. #11 Eamon Knight
    December 21, 2007

    Bah, “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” have been around as long as I can remember (ie ~45 years). If nothing else, they’re ways of compressing both Christmas and New Years greetings into one short phrase. Hell, there’s a passage in Sherlock Holmes — a good 120 years back — where Watson calls on his friend to wish him “compliments of the season”. This WoC is the most contrived, idiotic, trumped-up excuse for faux-outrage of all time.

  12. #12 df
    December 21, 2007

    I matriculated at a Catholic college. I chuckled when I opened the alumni newsletter this week and it started by wishing me “Happy Holidays”.

  13. #13 razib
    December 21, 2007

    (Oh, Razib knows this but for those just checking in, I was being cynical…)
    ;-) just wanted to get that fact out. most people (americans) would be surprised that more american blacks are catholics than muslims (i believe this is even true if you exclude hispanic blacks).

  14. #14 the real cmf
    December 22, 2007

    “Malcolm X? Yes. X replacing Christ? No.”

    WTF? So, its ok to use an X if you can claim slavery as your motivator, especially if you can blame another ‘race’ for that oppression( but of course we forget about the first 1000 years of slavery–Slavs, as in slaves, sold to Arabs, etc), but not cool to use an X for replacing the co-opted name that describes the ‘founder’ of a slave taking religious cult?
    razib: thanx for that stat! and…..am I the only one who notices that Af/Am’s are the latest crusaders for the bloody Jeeesus? About the time Euro/Ams figured out they have been lied to, and that Christianity and other bastardized Judeo religions and the wars they perpetrated are responsible for that slavery, the Af/Ams take up ‘the cross….’
    black mans burden?

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2007

    By the way, my understanding when I grew up, when I was catholic and before I was thrust into Jewish society and became an atheist, etc., is that “happy holidays” was simply an efficiency, given that there were two holidays (Xmas and new year). Then it became a convenience because of the near overlap of Hanukkah. It was from the Knee Jerk (or, just “jerk”) republicans that I learned that it was an offensive attack on their belief system. So now I use it all the time, of course…

  16. #16 Dan
    December 22, 2007

    I loved this gripe of Roland’s:

    What the heck are “Seasons Greetings”? Can someone tell me what season we are greeting folks about?

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say winter.

    The funny thing is, while going through some of my late grandmother’s things many years back, I recall more than a few glittery old cards with the words “Seasons Greetings” printed on them.

    I also recall hearing “Happy Holidays” at least once a year for as long as my memory serves.

    The thing that genuinely annoys me, Greg, is that some of these Christian creatures have this odd, innate desire to feel persecuted as though it’s going to give their beliefs some sort of legitimacy. They contrive these attacks upon their faith when none exist.

    I think the best thing to do to them, and the easiest way to deal with all this insignificant outrage of theirs is to simply laugh in their faces when they try to spread this nonsense.

  17. #17 ema
    December 22, 2007

    I find it highly amusing that the degree he’s pursuing is “Christian communications”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    Heh, can you say “propaganda.”

  18. #18 clheiny
    December 22, 2007

    It seems hypocritical for Roland to whine about taking Christ Out Of Christmas when Christians themselves took the Wooden Phallus Off Of Osiris, whose rebirth celebrations were a winter solstice tradition for thousands of years before they were stomped out in christianity’s War On Ra.

    I’ll believe he’s dedicated to traditional values when he starts building a pyramid and his wife daubs her eyes with charred frankincense.

  19. #19 Ba'al
    December 23, 2007

    Never expect wingnut Christians to know anything about the early history of their church and the prolonged evolution and struggles of various competing Christologies; and how good old fashioned imperial power politics eventually converged on one.

    Idiots indeed.

    And all this about someone whose historicity is about as knowable as that of King Arthur.

  20. #20 Teenage Lobotomy
    December 23, 2007

    flower child?

    500mic of hoffmans potion the bro will really see gawd.

    then play his laugh-in dvd and become the electomagnetic
    negro, here come the da judge.

  21. #21 Mike from Ottawa
    December 23, 2007

    “Roland does not know that Xmas is actually a standard way to write Christmas by those who wish to pay hommage to the early Greek scriptures, or who wish to not take The Lord’s name in vain by writing it out.”

    In North America, “Xmas” is mostly in advertisements, flyers and commercial signs. I don’t think any of these are choosing Xmas out of homage to Greek scriptures or desire to avoid using the name of Christ out of respect. Martin’s remark retains it’s irony since he’s doubtless a big fan of the capitalism that has turned Christmas into an orgy of physical materialism (as opposed to philosophical).

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    December 23, 2007

    Mike: Yes and no. Ad copy is not held by any standards, really, but political punditry can be criticized if it ignores real things. The true irony is not in his statement, but of his statement. He missed a chance.

  23. #23 arensb
    December 23, 2007

    jane:

    consider how I’m familiar with X (and also the chi-rho, and IHC)

    Chi-rho is not a city in Egypt :-)

  24. #24 Monado in Toronto
    December 24, 2007

    Wotan wants his holiday back. :-)

  25. #25 Kristjan Wager
    December 31, 2007

    Actually, Jul (or Yule) was not the holiday of Wotan/Odin. It was the holiday of Frey who was a left-over from an older and more peaceful religion (together with his sister Freya and father Njord).

    The celebration marked the end of the year, and it was (and still is) traditional to eat pork roast, as the pig was Frey’s holy animal, and eating it on the last day of the year, would bring luck and a bountiful harvest the next year.