Sunday, December 02, 2007

The "War" on Christmas? or Christmas Bullies

If you're on Facebook or any other social media site these days, you're probably getting inundated with YouTube videos posted to your FunWall or SuperWall or getting hyperlinks in your e-group lists. What are they all about? The "true" meaning of Christmas.

Evidently the majority feel a little threatened these days. Unless you greet them this time of year with "Merry Christmas", they will take offence. Unless you decry retail outlets with banners or advertisements declaring "Happy Holidays", you're participating in a commercial fraud. Unless you rail against schools and public institutions who might avoid talking about "you know who", you're missing the point of this time of year and, God forbid, "politically correct".

If you can believe it, some people have even published books on the War on Christmas. If you are tempted to watch or listen to Bill O'Reilly on the Fox Network, you'll be told about the shocking way in which Christians are being persecuted everywhere at this time of year.

It's all a little melodramatic. And it all reeks of posturing by people insecure in their own religious traditions.

Evidently, it's not enough to live in a multiethnic, multicultural society that embraces diversity and privileges no established religion or denomination. Apparently only the traditions that have emerged in the last 150 years or so in English-speaking countries matter at this time of year.

It's a joke really. It's like the schoolyard bully who feels threatened when children don't volunteer their lunch money.

My wife and I did some shopping today for gifts for "you know what". We visited one of our favourite stores in downtown Waterloo, Ten Thousand Villages. It's a fun place, a place where you know you're supporting people in third-world countries to earn a decent living, a place to buy fair-trade coffee, and an absolutely wonderful gift shop. But as you walk around, there is no evidence that "you know what" has lost its place of primacy on the store shelves. Crèches, Noah's Arks, Bethlehem stars, angels - they're everywhere. No dreidels. No menorahs. Nothing of other religions except Christianity. It would appear that ten thousand villages around the world make a living catering to the festivities of the religious majority in North America at this time of year.

And that's just one store. Everywhere you go, Christmas carols on the PA systems. Sure, some of them are secular; some of them are about a jolly red elf and reindeer. But it's all about "you know what" - the "C" word.

Yet the claims continue unabated about the victimization of Christians. In 2006, for example, there were all kinds of news articles about Best Buy's decision to "ban" Christmas from its advertising. That's a little like saying Rolex bans lower and middle-class people.

Here's a little experiment for you - go to the Best Buy Canadian web site and search on "Christmas". You'll find 314 hits. I guess the "ban" isn't working very well. Try "Hanukkah" - 4 hits; or "Kwanzaa" - 0 hits. Yep, sounds like a war on Christmas to me.


Anonymous said...

Today, the lib-left warned everyone within earshot that the two pieces of wood intersecting in a white bookshelf behind Mike Huckabee in his Christmas ad APPEARED TO HIGHLIGHT THE SHAPE OF A CROSS AND WAS MEANT TO SEND A SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE!!! I kid you not.

There are more ironies here than I can count.

Like my friend Don said: Evidently, it's not enough to live in a multiethnic, multicultural society that embraces diversity......

Way West and Way Right

Don Spencer said...

This is one instance where you and I will have to disagree.

I've been reading, not the lib-left critics of Huckabee, but the Texas newspaper articles and religious spokepersons opposed to Huckabee's "Christmas" videos. And I've watched the video on YouTube.

I'm surprised you don't see anything unusual or even cynical in Huckabee's blatant use of Christian symbolism to promote his bid in the early primaries.

Huckabee should be talking about his politics, not his religion. But he knows that the only reason he has a chance at all is because he is drawing attention to Giuliani and Romney with his "in your face" evangelical Christianity.

If he truly meant to back off on political issues to wish people well at this time of year, he could easily have done so without the overt play to Southern Baptist audiences in his "Christmas" message. If he wants to represent all Americans, he'll have to realize that this time of year isn't just about the birth of Jesus - that kind of talk is just cynical political manoevering.

Anonymous said...

We probably disagree in more than one instance.

And I hope you didn't miss the numerous ironies in the responses to the ad.

Subliminal? An ordained Christian Baptist minister delivering a merry Christmas to potential like-minded voters? In front of a Christmas tree? Duh? Are they stupid?

The LibLeft is incensed that he should blatantly try and attract voters that share his beliefs? Like they don't? Like every politician who ever ran for office didn't do that? Get serious.

I guess, according to the LL, any belief is okay, provided it's not religious. That in itself constitutes a belief.

Which begs the question - why are the current heroes of the LibLeft, Hillary et al, suddenly gushing about their own personal Christianity? That's beyond cynical and the LL haven't said squat. Hypocrites, don't you think?

The great liberal philosophers of centuries past would disavow anyone who carries the 'liberal' label today. It's derived from the word 'liberty', and the libs of today stand for anything but. Gotta change the name

Don Spencer said...

Yes, I got the irony. But I didn't think the "subliminal" claim of some left-libbers was worth a response. It's idiotic. There was nothing subliminal in the video - it was all too obvious and manipulative.

There's no problem with Christians running for office or sharing their personal religious viewpoints with like-minded individuals and groups. In fact, if he had made the comment in a Southern Baptist advent service, nobody would have even noticed.

But he did it in a political ad for an election campaign, claiming that this time of year was all about the birth of Jesus. The "cross" wasn't subliminal; it was symbolic and intended. His claim to the contrary is ludicrous.

Religious beliefs have always been acceptable, even if they were radical - Jefferson comes to mind, as well as other deists. But the whole point of separation of church and state is to protect religious minorities, not revel in one's majority status.

Frankly, the left bugs me as much, if not more, especially when they start talking about their faith. Give it a rest. Talk about ethics, morals, and the failure of the current administration, but please leave out how much Jesus means to you.

You're probably right about what constitutes a liberal these days. Still, it's important to recognize that those criticizing Huckabee included a lot of religious leaders and a lot of bona fide Republicans.


Anonymous said...

The 'separation of church and state' notion usually comes up at around this time.

If I remember, it was a religious group, the Quaker Oats people, that played a big part creating the doctrine of keeping church and state affairs apart.

Heading to the New World, in large part to escape the draconian oppression of the established, ruling church, they inspired the freedom of religion, freedom from religion and others.

(Ironic that a religious breakfast cereal group laid down the template for a number of broad freedoms incorporated in the US Constitution.)

In Europe, for centuries, real power lay with the Roman Church and church of England. Far stronger than most governments, the 'church' ruled with an iron fist, with an malfeasant intolerance for opposing political ideas, religions, philosophies, science, arts, etc. With God's grace they tortured, drowned, burned and killed dissidents and then condemned their souls to eternal hell. Complete control over men's lives and souls. Outside of a few statues and paintings, they effectively stalled human advancement for centuries.

It was that church that's referred to in separation of church and state and it's not merely designed to protect religious minorities. It's to protect all individuals from tyranny. Good move, we all agree.

Smug? Maybe. But no more than just about every special interest group I could name. Big or small. Left or right. They're all self-righteous.

My bug all along has been the use of the label 'liberal', as in liberal-left, liberal democrats. To me, liberal implies more than tolerance and freedom for just your own ideas.

Way West and Way Right

Don Spencer said...

Friday morning was without Quaker oatmeal for me, the first time without my religious-inspired porridge for quite a few days.

Ever been to a Quaker meeting? The silence is deafening! Anyway, I digress.

Your historical comments are reasonably accurate and I think we're on the same page about aligning ourselves with many of the Age of Enlightenment values. Liberalism and liberal democracy are just two of the rooted in that amazing period of Voltaire, Hume, Thomas Paine and Rousseau.

Recent "liberals" don't seem to me to be on the same page as their most illustrious forebears, especially those at the helm of what you call the left-lib media. I say that not because of their blatant social liberalism (support for universal education, universal medical care, anti-discrimination laws, progressive taxation, etc), but because of what you already pointed out; namely, their amazing lack of self-awareness and their sometimes wholesale adherence to post-modern relativism.

If anything, the earliest "liberals" were anything but post-modern "anything-goes-except-religion" folks. Many recent liberals are, as you say, guilty of performative contradictions - "no belief is true absolutely except the belief that no belief is true." Pure, unadulterated bull shit!

But, having said all that, liberalism is progressive, just like conservatism. We shouldn't really expect it to remain stationary. It's a moving target, and that's OK. And it's alright that liberals disagree among themselves. I'm more on the side of social liberalism, as you might expect, sometimes even tempted towards socialism. But friends like you keep me aware of those within the liberal tradition more concerned with classical liberal values of laissez-faire economic policies, freedom of contract, and private enterprise. Heck, with my new job, it would be a little weird if I didn't occasionally reflect on classical liberal values in the market place!

So, raise a glass of "methode champenoise" sparkling wine (preferably Spanish) with me in celebration of this time of year, and, by extension, an implicit plague on both their houses (post-modern conservatives and liberals alike). And, in the true spirit of Christmas and peace on earth, maybe a trip to the cinema on Christmas Day to see a metaphor of the conservative/liberal clash - Alien vs Predator Requiem.