Thursday, December 15, 2005

"War" on Christmas Rant

It's hard for be to believe that Bill O'Reilly would knowingly report false stories, so I have come to the conclusion that he is just a really crappy reporter*. In any case, many of the examples of the "war on Christmas" he has been blathering on about are largely false or distortions of the truth. You can read about them in detail on the "Dispatches from the Culture Wars" blog ( here and here ). Apparently it is OK to disrupt schools by falsely accusing of being "anti-Christmas" as long as your show gets good ratings.

Meanwhile, a number of "mega churches" plan to close on Christmas Day (which falls on a Sunday this year), due to anticipated low attendance. The message is clear: only the superficial trappings of the holiday are important (greetings, wearing red and green, decorations). It is ironic that this emphasizes the many of bits of pagan winter solstice celebrations that have been incorporated into our Christmas traditions, rather than the real "meaning of the season".

Also apparently forgotten is the real war on Christmas in America, which was waged by the Puritans. In the "good old days" in Massachusetts, celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed (from National Geographic: "Christmas: When it was illegal"). Even our Founding Fathers didn't find Christmas so sacred: Congress was in session on December 25, 1789 and there was no Federal Christmas holiday until 1870.

I find it really annoying that this is even a topic of discussion, when there is real injustice and intolerance in the world. How can people get worked up about being wished "Happy Holidays" when there are countries where Christians are beaten and arrested, large parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are still devastated from Hurricane Katrina, and more than 2100 members of the US Military have died in Iraq (not to mention the dead civilians).

I say doesn't matter if you wish me "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays", as long as you say it with a smile.

*Or perhaps the problem is that O'Reilly's fact checkers were schooled with textbooks based on the principle
"if the conclusions contradict the word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them," which would definitely lead to a muddled idea of what constitutes a "fact".

Update 12/16: In a unexpected turn of events, I am apparently in agreement with Moral Majority co-founder Cal Thomas, who says in his column: "The effort by some cable TV hosts and ministers to force commercial establishments into wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas" might be more objectionable to the One who is the reason for the season than the "Happy Holidays" mantra required by some store managers." (via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

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