Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

When Christmas is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Celebrate Christmas

Will it surprise anyone to learn that Fox News, the network which concocted the false "War on Christmas," actually invited its employees to a "holiday party?" What happened to the fight-to-the-last-man ethos that we should all say "Merry Christmas?" Why was happy, er, angry, Christian warrior Bill O'Reilly originally offering "holiday ornaments" before the web site was changed? Why have George and Laura Bush wished folks "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings?" Didn't they get the memo?

I blame the liberal media.

A few stupidity checks are in order. Calling a Christmas tree a "holiday tree" is stupid, unless it's within your own home and you're definitely not Christian but you and your kids enjoy the whole tree thing (even then it's pretty silly). Insisting that "Happy Holidays" is offensive is asinine, since most Christians celebrate Christmas and New Year's and the phrase covers both… as well as Chanukah and Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice for all those, y'know, pagans. Claiming that institutions must call "winter break" "Christmas break" is stupid, offensive, and discriminatory… not to mention, inaccurate. My "winter break" in college lasted six weeks, starting just before Thanksgiving and ending just after New Year's. Many high school kids and college kids have a week or so off before Christmas lasting until just after New Year's (see the "Happy Holidays" discussion). Yes, at one time Christians could claim persecution… back when they were being fed to lions under the Roman Empire. But does any sane, honest person believe that an American cannot find a safe haven to celebrate Christmas in this country? Who is likely to feel more comfortable during the Christmas season, a Christian or a Jew?

I would argue that, far from there being a war against people of faith, there is a concerted movement against empiricism, science, and religious tolerance. You see, atheists as a whole are not a rowdy bunch, other than perhaps the Bolsheviks in 1914, but the majority of Trotskyites now seem to be Republicans anyway (the "neocons").

So here’s the latest salvos about Fox’s faux war.

By far the funniest (but substantial) performance to date comes from Sam Seder on CNN, who starts with the premise that the “War on Christmas” is the same as the Iraq war and quickly moves to Santa’s al-Qaeda connection and elf torture. To say Seder mops the floor with his opponent is to be too kind to the hapless Bob Knight of the Culture and Family Institute. Oh, and it’s become a general principle of the blogosphere (and debate in general) that when you invoke the Nazis, you’re losing (by the way, while Seder doesn’t mention it, having Knight, a proclaimed “Christian” invoke the Nazis to complain about religious persecution to a Jew is the height of bad taste.) Thanks to Crooks and Liars for posting this gem.

But the funnies don’t stop there. Ruth Marcus penned a nice op-ed in The Washington Post. Over at the Poyter Institute, a former Fox News producer reveals the strategy employed by the station. It’s a must-read.

Bill O’Reilly emerges as the uncontested champion of boobs, however. He wins this honor with a hat trick. He scores his first point by proclaiming that he shall “bring horror” upon the “oppressive, totalitarian and anti-Christian forces in this country”... Because nothing captures the spirit of Christmas like intolerance, hatred, and threats. (As long as Bill wants to fight phantoms, can we have him go off and say, protect the Easter Bunny from the commies in an isolated bunker somewhere?)

For his second point, Bill continues to make friends by casually accusing Madison, Wisconsin of Satan-worship. I wish I was making this up. (I would be surprised if O'Reilly's ratings weren’t eroding... unless folks are tuning in out of a Network-esque morbid curiosity to see if his head will finally explode.)

Still, he really outdoes himself for point three when he claims that a school district in Texas has embraced “fascism” by banning students from wearing red and green clothing. My god, and in the liberal bastion of Texas! Could it be that O’Reilly was... absolutely wrong? Nawh! Why bother to fact-check when there are rational people to slur? Poynter’s Jim Romensko posted the school district’s response here. I’m particularly fond of the polite understatment of the paragraph:

Dr. Otto said that our attorney requested of Mr. O'Reilly that, in the future, he ask his fact checkers to do a more thorough job of confirming the facts before he airs them.

Media Matters has the video here.

The Daily Show sums up much of Fox’s absurdity nicely, spotlighting O’Reilly further here and here. The second, longer item nicely captures a deceptive attack by O'Reilly on... The Daily Show.

Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live was actually funny in a Bill O’Reilly sketch that played on his disdain for fact-checking. You can see it if you hit their website, click on videos, and find the Jason Lee episode... the segment is listed as: “White House leak... Political operative... treason... Who cares?!”

(A final, brief anecdote… in my high school, it feel to the art classes to design the annual school Christmas card, but my art teacher understandably got sick of being caught in between the administration's demand that the card must say "Happy Holidays," "Season's Greetings," not feature a Christmas tree, and so on, while the kids drawing the things didn't really see what the big fuss was about (about 15-20% of the school was Jewish, I'd say, with most kids, regardless of denomination, celebrating Christmas.) One year, my teacher decided to just post all the card designs on a bulletin board and have the school vote for their choice, democratically. I submitted at least one traditional design, but to mix it up, I also drew one featuring a meditating Buddha with the logo, "Enter into the Kingdom of Bliss." (I actually had to redraw it because in my rush I left the "g" out of "kingdom.") Most people got a good laugh out of the Buddha card, but of course it didn't win. As I recall, the winner (by administrative decree versus vote) was something bland and inoffensive... but at least better drawn than mine.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In your efforts to impress your readers with how glib and clever you are, you COMPLETELY MISS THE POINT!
There is, of course, nothing at all wrong with the greetings "Happy Holidays", "Season's Greetings" etc.
The problem is, these phrases have become SYMBOLS of the politically correct ban on the greeting "Merry Christmas"! Do you seriously not realize that??
As you point out, it has sunken to ridiculous lows e.g. "holiday trees" "holiday presents" etc. etc.
At this rate, there WILL come a time when wishing someone Merry Christmas will become a hate crime! I can hear Bing Crosby singing it now..."I'm dreaming of a multi-hued, generic winter holiday..."