Sunday, November 30, 2008

No Retreat, No Surrender

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Well, friends, I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I hope you had a fine time and good fellowship with friends and family, and that you had occasion to reflect upon all of the things for which we should be truly thankful.

And I hope you got some rest.

Because, dear readers, we are faced with desperate times. We have a great battle upon us, and I hope you won't think I'm overstating the case when I tell you it's a battle more desperate than the Alamo, the Siege of Khe Sanh, Stalingrad and the stand of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae combined.

I'm speaking, of course, of the War On Christmas.

You know the one I'm talking about. It's the battle fought every year against the forces of secular socialist progressive liberalism and their fiendish campaign to replace the word "Christmas" with the word "Holiday" in our commercial discourse. Because, as we know, any time someone says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," a little bit of America dies.

Don't just take my word for it. No less an authority than Wall Street Journal Deputy Editor Daniel Henninger has warned us that the current collapse of the financial sector has its real roots, not in years of failed Bush financial policies, but in the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."

"What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years," Henninger writes, "were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. ... Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down. And so we come back to the disappearance of 'Merry Christmas.'"

If Christmas, Henninger cautions, becomes the holiday "that dare not speak its name," then "we are erasing the chalk lines. ... Go ahead. Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max."

Now this might sound like insane gibberish to some, especially if, like me, you've never in your entire life met a single person of any religious persuasion who claims to be offended or insulted by the words "Merry Christmas."

But let's not forget, this man is a deputy editor of one of the nation's most prestigious newspapers. And if he says that the use of "Happy Holidays" is going to lead to the collapse of civilization and leave us all running around in the desert driving souped-up vehicles, wearing leather bondage gear, and fighting to the death over a few drops of gasoline, then perhaps we should listen. I'm betting that it's the forces of secular socialist progressive liberalism (hereinafter referred to as the FOSSPL) that have kept him from being a full editor. Those guys are everywhere.

So, in these dark times, where is our champion? Where is our leader in the fight to save Christmas? Our General Patton, our Lone Ranger, our Gandalf?

Where is Bill O'Reilly?

I did some more research on the Internet (and by "research," I mean "idly wasting time while pretending to be working on this column"), trying to find out what Mr. O'Reilly has been up to in his valiant battle against the anti-Christmas hordes.

My friends, what I saw shocked me. Appalled me. I was aghast. I was agog. It seems that Bill O'Reilly, sworn enemy of the word "holiday" in regard to the Yuletide celebration, had been co-opted by the FOSSPL. There, big as life on the O' Web site, was Bill's -- I
shudder to even say it -- "Holiday" reading list.

Say it ain't so, Bill-o!

And the news gets worse. Focus on the Family, the religious group that's provided such a valuable early-warning system for "Holiday"-based threats to America's Christmas, announced recently it was laying off more than 200 staffers, citing "the faltering economy and a decline in donations."

So is the traditional American Christmas, in which we celebrate the birth of Our Lord with paranoia, a chronic persecution complex, and bullying people over imagined slights, a thing of the past? Is this a world in which fear-mongering is no longer profitable?

I can't believe it. I won't believe it! We are going to carry on the fight. We shall fight them in the malls. We shall fight them in the Walmarts. We shall fight them in the PetSmarts and Best Buys. We shall never surrender. We will bring the true spirit of Christmas back to this country if we have to cram it down the throat of every man, woman and child in it.

God bless us, every one.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, practices law, and celebrates Christmas in Carthage.


pattinase (abbott) said...

The last few times I have wished someone Happy Holidays, they have said with great emphasis, "Merry Christmas to you." Do such people really see Christmas as the savior of Western values?

JD Rhoades said...

Remember the good old days, when people could say Merry Christmas without making it sound like they're being a dick about it?

FerfeLaBat said...

Freedom of Religion. It's kind of important to some people. I can't think of any other religion that would happily change the names of their holidays in the interest of political correctness.

Celine said...

Freedom of Religion. It's kind of important to some people.

Indeed it is. I can't imagine forcing a Muslim or an atheist to wish me a Blessed Yule. Some Christians, though, seem to think that "freedom of religion" stops with the right to select which Christian church you attend on Sunday.

I can't think of any other religion that would happily change the names of their holidays in the interest of political correctness.

I can't think of any religion which is being required to change the names of its holidays in the interest of "political correctness". I do, however, see that phrase being flung around a lot in the defense of behavior my mother would have categorized as trashy and ill-bred.

Thank you SO much, Bill O'Reilly, for turning what used to be one of the nice things about the holiday season into yet another showcase for bigotry and hatred. I can't even say "Merry Christmas" to be polite now because by doing so, I'm aligning myself with the Armies of the Night.

JD Rhoades said...

Ferfe, as Celine pointed out, no one's asking anyone to change the name of Christmas. Do you honestly find it offensive to acknowledge that some people have a different holiday at this time of year...or even that the "season" also includes New Year's?

And did you ever think of doing so before Bill O'Reilly used the issue to pump up his ratings?

I'm also old enough to remember a time when people used Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings, and Happy Holidays interchangeably without it being an occasion for strife and division.

FerfeLaBat said...

1/4th of my family is Jewish. 1/4th of my family is American Indian. 1/4 is British. 1/4th Irish. I am personaly offended by the campaigns to remove symbols of Christmas from public places. My children were allowed to sing hanukkah songs, kwanza songs, but Silent Night was forbidden at school. If you think that is the way things should be then that's your perogative. My Jewish relatives aren't some cultural oddity that makes their religion ok to celebrate in December and my Christian relatives should not be treated like pariahs. Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach your kids religious tolerance when the schools honor some of their family's religions and ban the other?

I finally pulled both of them out of public schools and put them into non-denominational Christian schools where they are free to learn about religion without the rampant prejudice public school beats into them.

I am essentially agnostic and I believe that people have a right to decide how to live their lives, and regardless of religion, sexual orientation, or whatever, they should be treated with respect. I don't see much respect for Christians in the media, the schools or in city hall these days.

JD Rhoades said...

Well, Ferfe, you want "respect for Christianity" come on and move to my little town, where prayers at public school functions are still said "in Jesus name," you can't schedule a public meeting for Wednesday night because "people have church," and I've seen people who practice "non-mainstream" religions such as Wicca lose custody of their children in court explicitly for that reason.

Sorry, but this persecution complex that seems to obsess Christians these days doesn't hold much water with me. I've had Jesus shoved down my throat too long for that.

JD Rhoades said...

Oh, and for the record: I'm not in favor of Hannukah songs in school either if they're about God and the Maccabees. That "dreidel dreidel dreidel" song's okay, i guess. I've never even heard of a "Kwanzaa song" but if it has religious content, it has no place n a public school either.

Fran said...

As someone who works in retail, this is a constant minefield. We don't know our customers' religious preferences, nor do we want to. If, however, we avoid any sort of holiday wish, we're being curmudgeonly. If we make the wrong choice in holiday wishes, we're rude and insensitive. There's really no way to win.

And Ferfe, the worst ones at choosing to be offended are the Christians. Without fail. Our Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan and athiest customers are generally pretty easygoing about it, but some of our Christian customers are pretty easily offended.

The best we can do is to wait until someone wishes us something and say, "The same to you" in return. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Dusty, I linked this post over on my blog since I was talking about it the other day. I hope you don't mind! Just say the word and I'll drop the link.

FerfeLaBat said...

Everything about these comments comes from a perspective that views Christians in a negative light. I've seen rude people of all religions or lack there of and I can say that, if you are looking for negatives, you will find them.

I've worked in the service industry and I currently work in a place where pretty much every religion on earth is represented and people here are interested and respectful of the differences.

My mother taught us to each find our way. One of my sisters is Wiccan, another is Catholic ... we are all human beings.

Ask yourself this ... are YOU on the defensive because of the media coverage? If people can't meet on a Wednesday night is that an earth ending problem? Look at how you are reacting to this controversy. You are mocking Christians and attributing the actions of some to the entire mosaic of Christianity. There is no way you would be blasting Jews like this. Why? Because it's not politically correct.

JD Rhoades said...

Fran: I'm honored.

Ferfe, the reason I'm mocking Christians and not Jews is not because of any "political correctness," it's because Jews haven't been assholes about this and Christians have. When I forget and wish my friend Matthew a Merry Christmas, he just smiles and wishes me one back, even though he's Jewish. I say 'Happy Holidays" to a near stranger because I don't know their religion or lack of same, and some of them act like I puked on their shoes.

And as I pointed out (and as you've ignored--how convenient!), it's not like Christians are an oppressed minority around here. They are, in fact, totally in control.

All I'm doing is pushing back.

David Terrenoire said...

I had this discussion with a a far distant relative on Thanksgiving. It started with her saying that "they" wouldn't allow prayer in school.

I said that as long as there were algebra tests, there would be prayer in school.

Then she said that "they" were trying to stop everyone from saying Merry Christmas.

I asked who "they" were because I didn't think I wanted to hang out with those people.

Then she said that "they" were making it illegal to display Christmas decorations on private property, like churches.

Unable to take it any more I challenged her to give me one example of churches not being allowed to display Christmas decorations.

She couldn't name any, but insisted it was happening.

Really, where do these people get their information?

FerfeLaBat said...

Perhaps she's talking about Jehova's Witnesses. They see Christmas as a perversion of the faith. Or maybe she was referring to this story.

And I haven't seen you jump on a single "Jew behaving badly" story on this blog. There are plenty to be found. Perhaps not on HuffPo but elsewhere. Nope. Your ire is directed at Christians. If you are not Christian, why say anything at all to people this time of year other than the basic, "Have a nice day."?

"(...)it's not like Christians are an oppressed minority around here. They are, in fact, totally in control."

So. Because Christians are in the majority it's ok to take away their freedoms. Their time is over? Now that we've elected an agnostic President, Christians are fair game for abuse? If Christians were "Totally in control" I should be able to google the war on Christmas and see defeat after defeat for the ACLU but instead it is just the opposite.

You are all just as intolerent as the hand full of politically polarized Christians you've been running into the dirt and worse you've lumped them all into one amorphous "they" just like the woman who couldn't cite examples to back up her claims.

"They are, in fact, totally in control."

That's a gross exageration and it kills your credibility just like it killed hers. You seemed far more open minded than this in previous posts.

I don't necessarily agree with the WSJ article in so far as the economic melt down was a disconnect from Christianity, but if people were still connected with some moral and ethical code of conduct things like the Wal-mart stampede and the aquisitive credit tidal wave we've been on would have been less likely to occur.

David said...

As I see it, Ferfe, what's being viewed in a negative light is deliberate jerkishness. The people are deliberately jerkish about the holiday-greeting issue are, almost without exception, Christians.

Think about it. If I give a generic holiday greeting to someone because I don't know what religion (if any) he follows, and he responds in kind, I still don't know what religion (if any) he follows. Sure, odds are he's some sort of Christian, but I don't know that - and I really don't care. If, OTOH, he gets all huffy and says "Merry Christmas to you," I can safely assume that he is a Christian, but what will anooy me about him is that he's being a jerk.

JD Rhoades said...

Now that we've elected an agnostic President, Christians are fair game for abuse?

Wow. Talk about killing your credibility.

Obama isn't anywhere near being an agnostic. Do you not remember the whole Reverend Jeremiah Wright flap, or is it another thing you conveniently ignore?

I would venture to say that it would be impossible for an agnostic to be elected to the Presidency.

SinlessTouch said...

Why bondage gear
is seen like the devil clothes?

FerfeLaBat said...

Reverend Wright's "Church" is a political movement and bears many similarities to The People's Temple of Jim Jones' fame. Black Liberation Theology is about as far from standard Christian teachings as a church can get. It preaches a new world order. God is pretty far down on the list of priorities. If you read Obama's books you will find that he joined the church for credibility and connections. He says so. He does not attend church regularly and his answers to many questions in public forums tag him as agnostic.

His father and step father were muslim. His mother was an athiest. Obama has no set theology. That's actually one of his more apealing qualities for me.

It probably didn't matter to you one way or another or you would have researched it and at least taken time to read what he's written and listen to what he says. I was intrigued because his family is even more diverse than my own and I am always interested to see how other people handle that.

There have been others who came to a similar conclusion.

JD Rhoades said...

Obama has expressed his Christian faith many, many times, starting with the 2004 speech that catapulted him to the "celebrity" right wingers are so bitter about.

Quoting wingnut sites who say "Well, he says it but he doesn't really mean it because he's a Marxist Muslim" and then "support" that by cherry picking passages from his book and taking quotes out of context does nothing to bolster the credibility of your assertion.

It's absurd on its face, and your clinging to this particular zombie lie makes you look like a candidate for a tinfoil hat.

JD Rhoades said...

Really, where do these people get their information?

Voices in their heads, apparently.

David Terrenoire said...

Because Christians are in the majority it's ok to take away their freedoms.

See, now this is the part I don't get. What freedoms are we taking away? You still have the right to pray in school, to say Merry Christmas until your throat's sore, to celebrate Christmas in whatever way you please, and yet someone, somewhere is taking away your freedom? To do what, exactly?

The second bugaboo in this response is how intolerant we are. That's not true. I am very tolerant of anyone practicing their religion. But I am intolerant of officious jerks, people trying to start a fight, rudeness, and the manufacture of phony War on Christmas as a way to once again divide neighbor from neighbor.

And it might interest you to know that many of us who profess no religious identity celebrate Christmas as a time when we gather with family, give gifts to those we care about, and share the joy of community and the overall message of peace. You don't need to be a Christian to find those qualities attractive.

Just as the early Christian church took elements of the pagan solstice for their holiday, we pagans can take some things from Christmas to brighten our winter.

Gerard said...

Is this discussion finished yet? Can we talk about Bill Ayers now?

JD Rhoades said...

Flag pins are next on the agenda, Gerard. Then we can talk about Ayers.

Anonymous said...

While we're at it, could someone please tell the ignorant ya-hoos who post signs in my neighborhood about taking the X out of Xmas that X was used early on by Christians to represent Christ?

I've given up. I just say "have a nice day." To my friends I say "Happy Solstice."

freeneasy said...

Ferfe - what gets me is your ilk calling me agnostic, un-Christian, non-believer, un-American, unpatriotic, and all that other crap you and your ilk cook up every time a topic like this occurs. That includes the way you people cry every time you want to post the Ten Commandments in a courthouse or a park, or pray in school, or whatever, and the courts knock it down. It's not anti-Christian; it's merely a shabby alternative to giving every religion the equal right to display in the same manner, which would quickly junk up all our public institutions and drown us in a theological quagmire.

I'm a Christian, but I'm not an ass about it. I don't believe we have an exclusive right to this country. And I'm certainly smart enough not to believe every crisis this country encounters is because of our un-Christian behavior, or questionable morals. Merry Christmas? Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever. I use them all, and fuck the attitude I get in return. Frankly, I think you, Daniel Henninger, Bill O'Reilly and your ilk all have LaBats in you collective LaBelfry.