13 December 2008

Surprising? Not really.

The weird yet perennial "war on Christmas" rhetoric - in which, regular as Santa Claus, the conservative commentariat gets up in arms about some perceived slight to the Christian origins of the holiday - has always mystified me. It's transparently mean-spirited to transform the words "Merry Christmas" into a proclamation of cultural dominance, to the point that the neutral "Happy Holidays" has become more Christian in spirit. Over in Washington State, the addition of an atheist belief statement to a holiday display has set off an arms-race of symbolic appropriation culminating in demands to include a Festivus pole and a sign saying that "Santa Claus will take you to Hell," finally forcing the state government to place a moratorium on additions.

Max Blumenthal writes that this absurdity has its roots in Anti-Semitism. Because you know who really hates Christmas? The Jews:
Unlike their more respectable counterparts, Brimelow’s writers dared to name the true anti-Christian Grinch: Jews. The winner of Brimelow’s 2001 War on Christmas competition, a “paleoconservative” writer named Tom Piatak, insisted that those behind the assault on Christmas “evidently prefer” Hanukkah, which he called the “Jewish Kwanzaa,” a “faux-Christmas.”
Which makes perfect sense; nothing offends a racist like showing basic courtesy to someone different from them. Saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" implies that you can't assume some random person on the street is Christian. That doesn't strike me as particularly scary or bad; but for the Christmas Warriors, it's the end of the world as they know it.

2 comments:

  1. I think the former post-doc in my lab had the best way around the Christmas/Holiday question - he'd wish everyone a happy Saturnalia.

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