Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again...

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It's that time of year again, my good friends -- the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

And what would the season be without one of its most beloved traditions: the Phony War on Christmas, or as I now call it, the PWoC? Like I always say, there's no better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than with paranoia, feelings of persecution, and bullying people over imagined slights.

Like Christmas itself, the PWoC seems to come earlier every year. This year's alleged opening salvo already seems to have been fired at, of all places, the PetSmart chain.

According to an "Action Alert" filed by the American Family Association, "Christmas doesn't exist" at PetSmart. The word Christmas, the AFA gripes, "is not to be found anywhere on the chain's Web site." AFA checked out some local PetSmart stores, and "there was no Christmas there, either." (This was, we feel obliged to point out, in early November.) Apparently, all they could find were references to that filthy secular buzzword -- dare I say it -- "Holiday."

While a check on the PetSmart Web site actually does turn up several references to "Christmas," the AFA insists that those don't count because they are "very misleading." When you click on "Christmas," they say, "you are directed to a page containing the same gifts you get when you search for 'holiday.' Of all the items that pop up when you search for Christmas, not a single one mentions Christmas or is identified as being a Christmas gift."

Those heathen swine! How will my Golden Retriever learn about the Nativity of Our Lord if his new squeaky toy isn't designated specifically as a Christmas gift after you click through the word "Christmas" on the Web site? If we're not careful to designate those fuzzy fake mice as Christmas gifts rather than holiday ones, the cat might even turn Muslim! She's already showing terrorist tendencies.

No dispatch from the front of the PWoC would be complete without some mention of Bill O'Reilly. In the PWoC, O'Reilly is like the berserkers of old, ready to throw himself wild-eyed and frothing at the mouth against the nearest adversary.

His latest target was the city of Fort Collins, Colo., whose principal crime seems to be using symbols like penguins and snowflakes in their holiday decorations along with "items such as Christmas trees, crèches, menorahs and other winter holiday symbols," according to the local newspaper, the Coloradoan. Not only that, O'Reilly sputtered, but those Fort Collins commies are using white lights instead of colored ones!

I'm not sure what O'Reilly has against white lights. I'm rather partial to them myself as Christmas decorations. They're pretty. But the white lights in particular seemed to drive O'Reilly and his guest, right-wing Denver talk show host Dan Caplis, utterly ballistic.

"You have this arrogant minority," Caplis said, "that wants to go to the point of stripping away Christmas trees and colored lights. I mean, this sounds like something out of the old Soviet Union." Because we all know how Stalin used to send people to the gulags for colored Christmas lights.

O'Reilly, not to be out-crazied, chimed in with a typically over-the-top persecution fantasy: "I mean, I think you get put in jail now if you go in there and say 'Merry Christmas' in Boulder, right?"

Paranoia over an alleged assault on Christmas isn't new. As far back as 1959, the John Birch Society took time off from issuing dire warnings about Communist plots to put fluoride in the water to warn us that the "godless U.N." was plotting to remove all religious symbolism from American life during Christmas.

"Department stores throughout the country," they warned, "are to utilize U.N. symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations."

Now, I wasn't even born then, so maybe my older readers can fill me in: Did armies of blue-helmeted U.N. troops storm Woolworth's and forcibly replace all the Nativity scenes with the U.N. symbol? If there is a War on Christmas, it's apparently been going on a long time, and it apparently hasn't been very effective.

The hysteria over the PWoC becomes self-sustaining: "Sorry, kids, we can't say 'Merry Christmas' or the ACLU will sue us. I saw it on Bill O'Reilly." So then the story becomes "kids can't say 'Merry Christmas' because they're afraid of being sued," and around and around we go, generating more nuttiness -- and more bucks for people like O'Reilly.

I'm thankful for one thing, though. When you're a columnist on a tight pre-Thanksgiving deadline and you're looking for blowhards and nut cases to make fun of, the PWoC crowd, like PETA, is a gift that keeps on giving. Ho Ho Ho, y'all!

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage. He reminds his loyal readers that his three novels "The Devil's Right Hand," "Good Day in Hell," and "Safe and Sound," make excellent Christmas gifts.


Unknown said...

Very well written rant, and I agree totally... Just one thing though, your name and the nickname from where I found this blog is ringing bells. Do I know of you from aeons ago via one of the Callahans incarnations of alt.callahans on usenet or the #callahans IRC.


Kit Fenderson-Peters said...

Yes, Bun, this is the same Dusty we know and love from a.c./#c.


Anonymous said...

Well writ Jerry.

I just added your rss feed. So you can expect me to be checking up on you regularly now.

-- Bill Gawne

Anonymous said...

I have to stick up a little for Petsmart here. I haven't checked out the site, and could care less what they say, but most places/people who adopt out pets really discourage taking a pet home for Christmas morning-it's just a bad idea all around.

Really though, I also think it's a bad idea to get your pet from Petsmart too. Go to a local rescue or shelter.

David Terrenoire said...


I agree. Rescue a dog. It'll be grateful forever.

Cats, on the other hand, show no gratitude, adopted or bought. As it should be.

And Dusty is right that the PWoC is a wonderful gift to bloggers.

JD Rhoades said...

Greetings, Callahanians!

Sean Chercover said...

Yes! and Yes!

Nice rant, Dusty!


Get your pet at the local shelter!

Steve Allan said...

Yes, Christmas as an American phenomenon is disapperaing. Why last Thursday I saw that the ridiculous discounts at WalMart didn't even match the ridiculous discounts from last year. Plus I didn't witness as many shopper-on-shopper acts of violence. What's X-mas without a little bit of blood? What will I tell my children?

Nichelle said...

Nice post. I'm from Fort Collins and have seen those non-colored Christmas lights : ). How dare they.