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War Against Christmas 2004 Competition [XX]: The Winner!
I got John O'Sullivan to start the War Against Christmas Competition, aimed at finding the most outrageous attempt to abolish Christmas, in the mid-1990s, when he was Editor of National Review. The last Competition ran in 1997, at which time William F. Buckley for his own discreditable reasons had already fired O'Sullivan, but not yet leaked the cover story that he was "resigning to write a book." The War Against Christmas Competition was promptly dropped, along with the cause of immigration reform. In 2000, NR itself actually published a "Holiday Edition."
That was the year we re-started the War Against Christmas competition at the just-launched VDARE.COM.
By an amazing coincidence, 2000 now seems to have been NR's Nativity nadir. In 2001, Christmas reappeared at NR—if only, a VDARE.COM reader suggested, because Christians were now needed to fight a war.
Last year, NR's Jay Nordlinger actually re-started a War Against Competition in his column. This year, however, he announced
"I'm not going to go on any, or many, can't-say-'Christmas' tirades this year. That is my gift to you! But I will simply remind you of my tirading last year, which culminated in a [rather weak] piece for NR, 'December's C-Word.'"
Those of us who use NR as a Zeitgeist-meter immediately concluded that the adaptable courtiers who now run it were tacking again, sensing some powerful source of disapproval. But in fact, in the end, NR did run some Christmas stuff, albeit late. The probable reason: in 2004, the War Against Christmas went mainstream. (David Orland tells us from Paris that this was even noticed in France.)
The most noticeable aspect of the War this year was the large number of mainstream commentators who noticed that there is a War on, and who are decrying it. Bill O'Reilly made a big deal about it, and even Charles Krauthammer wrote about it…I think those of us who have been writing about this for a while can take credit.
The counterarguments have been mixed. Some, like Frank Rich in a December 19 New York Times column (attacking both Mel Gibson and those defending Christmas) argued that this is much ado about nothing, since Christmas is the same as ever….
Others, such as Cathy Young of Reason and Jonah Goldberg of National Review, urged everyone to "lighten up," which although seeming at first glance to be a "plague on both your houses" argument, actually trivializes Christmas as something no one should be concerned about. They don't write many columns urging people to "lighten up" about things they actually care about.
Finally some, such as Julian Sanchez at Reason, take a different tack at trivializing Christmas, by saying our concerns represent an absurd attempt by a still-overwhelming majority to claim "persecution."
But, obviously, just because no one is being fed to the lions doesn't meant that what's going on isn't worthy of noticing.
And, unless people push back, Christmas will disappear from the public sphere—without anyone needing to be fed to any lions.
My attitude began to change a few years ago when I was working at Liberty magazine. I was inspecting the letter we were sending out with our Christmas gift offer. It had an image of a Thomas Nast Santa but no use of the word "Christmas." I unsuccessfully argued that our subscribers, though overwhelmingly secular would be more likely offended by the PC phrase "holiday gift" than by the mention of Christmas. I began to notice the extent to which some people and organizations go to avoid saying Christmas. Now, I am mildly offended by the banal phrase happy holidays."
Organizational Christophobia was the reason I was once again tempted, as in 2002, to give the prize to myself.
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When I saw that Amazon was offering "holiday graphics" to its participating websites, I wrote asking for a Christmas one. Unlike in 2002, Amazon was prepared. It answered instantly:
Thanks for writing to the Amazon.com Associates Program.
As we previously explained to you in December 2002, we do not have an official statement as to why we do not offer Christmas graphics in Associates Central. For your convenience, I have included our e- mail response from December 2002 below my signature.
Our policy regarding holiday graphics has not changed.
We appreciate your feedback, and please know that it has been passed on to the appropriate department.
Please note that we will no longer respond to inquiries regarding this matter.
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Amazon.com Associates Program
So Amazon not only refuses to provide a Christmas graphic on request, but it also won't say why not.
Much as I admire this remarkable company, it is hard to see this arrogant attitude as anything other than conscious Christophobia.
The Christmas Controversy does have a remarkable similarity to the immigration debate. At the beginning, we find Americans being stampeded like sheep. For the ignominious results of this in the case of the Khristmaskampf, we need only study the President Bush's White House website's page headed "A Season Of Music and Melody" (what season could that be?) with the word "Christmas" is almost completely expunged.
Eventually, some sensible sheep realize what's going on and try to stop. This is a critical moment. It would only take a few to turn the whole flock around.
In the immigration debate, it materialized that in among the sheep were some dogs, consciously herding them along. The dogs fell on the sensible sheep and tried to tear them in pieces, before they could have an effect.
This is the situation that we're in with the War Against Christmas. There is finally a widespread awareness that it exists. But as with the immigration debate, I believe, it will next emerge that the War Against Christmas is not merely an accident. Its backers really want it.
Next year, they will get nasty.
The winner of the VDARE.COM War Against Christmas 2004 has already experienced this nastiness. He is the anonymous Midwestern Seventh grader mentioned in Tom Piatak's article who was threatened with punishment if he called his class tree a "Christmas Tree" or wished anyone "Merry Christmas."
Subsequently, this boy wrote to us:
"I have been accused of being 'way against Jews' and of being a Nazi by some of my classmates, even some of my friends, while my sponsor (homeroom teacher) stood by, allowing it to happen, all because she supposedly wanted to avoid a 'conflict'
"I cannot turn to the administration because I am sure that I will get this line almost verbatim – 'Our school is a diverse community where we accept and acknowledge all religion.' Excuse Me? If our school is a diverse community where we accept all religions, how come I can't say anything about Christmas?"
We are withholding this boy's name for obvious reasons. But he (or his parents) will get champagne and an autographed copy of Alien Nation.
In the end, the War Against Christmas will be defeated by myriads of individual Americans who are prepared on a personal level to face what his cowardly teacher calls "conflict."
Peter Brimelow, editor of VDARE.COM and author of the much-denounced Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster (Random House - 1995) and The Worm in the Apple (HarperCollins - 2003)