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War Against Christmas 2005 Competition [VI]: The Winner!
The Twelfth Day of Christmas, January 6th, is when we aim to end our Annual War Against Christmas competition to find the most outrageous attempt to abolish Christmas. (Not always successfully—but as I start writing this, I've still got about an hour of January 6th left!)
As Tom Piatak has noted, in 2005 the War Against Christmas met with "rampant and increasing grass-roots resistance" across America. There was significant coverage throughout the media, for example Fox TV and WorldNetDaily; the issue was—finally—picked up by conservative religious leaders, for example Reverend Jerry Falwell; and even some politicians made a stand, for example Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia (not normally praised in VDARE.COM).
There's a price to be paid for the support of Fox TV and the "religious right". I'll get to it later. But when the immigration disaster gets their attention, it will be a happy day for America.
In contrast, I don't believe there was any coverage at all of the Khristmaskampf in the mid-1990s, when I first persuaded John O'Sullivan to run a War Against Christmas Competition in National Review—no doubt contributing to his firing, after which it was promptly dropped, along with the cause of immigration reform.
I say this, not to lay any claim to credit—you don't get credit in this business—but to make a point: things change. The celebration of Christmas has indeed evolved. And right now it's evolving back to where it was.
The time will come when "Happy Holidays" will seem as dated as, oh, Madonna (a popular singer, circa 1990).
Probably it will be about the same time that an immigration moratorium bill is passed—with Ramesh Ponnuru claiming credit.
I can't wait.
America's cultural commissars have reacted to this unexpected peasants' revolt by scurrying about frantically, like cockroaches surprised by a sudden light. A common reaction—for example, Frank Rich's I Saw Jackie Mason Kissing Santa Claus in the New York Times on Christmas Day itself—is to deny everything. Talk of a war on Christmas, blustered Rich arrogantly, was "suburban legends…irrational hysteria."
Unfortunately for Rich and his fellow Khristmaskampf deniers, we have it on the authority of no less a commissar than Charles Krauthammer himself (December 17 2004) that "The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless." The evidence for the War Against Christmas is enormous and overwhelming. The deniers are simply lying.
It is notable, however, that Krauthammer was silent on the War Against Christmas this year, as all the Big Foot columnists e.g. George Will seem to have been. (Ask Will why. Ask Krauthammer why.) My theory: the issue is simply getting too dangerous. You don't get to be a Big Foot by taking risks.
Evidence of the underlying passions: both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times felt free to publish remarkable and explicitly Christophobic attacks on Christmas and Christians—What 'War on Christmas'? by Ruth Marcus, December 10, 2005; Oy To The World, by Joel Stern, December 6, 2005 ("We Jews find it a little embarrassing that adults can still make such a big fuss over Christmas…I get that I live in a Christian nation. And I'm fine with it. I like you guys. I think it's adorable that you ring giant, white pipe cleaners around streetlights and make everything taste like peppermint and thought the world was going to end when the calendar went to three zeros in a row. It's like living with children.go nuts with your celebration, with your lying to children about where presents come from and your beverages made from raw eggs and your desperate use of greenery to get women to kiss you.")
One of the nice things about our War Against Christmas competition is that we get entries, and reaction, all year. So I was prepared for 2005's trademark combination of arrogant denial by this email from North Carolina, which arrived last fall.
"Not sure why this link is the top pick when you google "Asheville Holiday Parade", but please remove the article from your list…Not sure of your point, but FYI, most parades that take place in November are called Thanksgiving parades. We chose 'Holiday Parade' so we could celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas."
Eleanor Campbell (email her)
Asheville Merchants Corporation Holiday Parade
88 Roberts St
PO Box 1600
Asheville, NC 28802-1600
Actually, of course, the workings of Google are a mystery to us as to all webpersons (our story was sixth when I last checked). And no law that we are aware of exempts the Asheville Merchants Corporation from criticism.
More importantly: I suppose it is possible that the predecessors of "59th Annual Asheville Holiday Parade" were called "Holiday Parades" back in the 1940s.
But I don't believe it.
Here are a random few of the "suburban legends" reported by VDARE.COM readers:
- From "Kris" in Arizona:
"Seattle, Washington—Lunch menus imprinted with the words 'Merry Christmas' have been discarded and replaced in the Federal Way school district south of Seattle.
"The December lunch menus for all 23 elementary schools were recalled and reprinted with the words 'Happy Holidays' at a cost of almost $500.
"A school district spokeswoman says printing 'Merry Christmas' on the menus violated school system policies because 'it has a religious connotation for some people.'"
- From Mark Krulacz (email him)
Here are my (first) two entries in this year's War Against Christmas Competition:
Framingham Massachusetts, Target Store, Early Dec 2005—My family is considering the purchase of an artificial Christmas tree, so we all go the store one night. "Holiday Trees" and "Holiday Ornaments" are on one side of the aisle to the left. No mention of "Christmas" anywhere. On the aisle to the right, a big sign that says "Hanukah Items". I am not kidding. It was so blatant I wanted to make a scene right there and then. If I go back there, I'll take pictures.
Home and Garden TV, Early Dec 2005—Emeril is cooking up "Holiday" Cookies, and helping us make a "Holiday" Dinner. HGTV has commercials showing us other shows that will help me prepare for the "Holidays". Not one mention of Christmas, except by accident on a commercial preview of a show about ginger bread house construction competitions, where a "Merry Christmas" banner could be seen on the wall of a convention center in the distance. Then, right before Emeril comes back on, a big splash screen that reads "Happy Hanukah!!!".
- From: Chris Mallory
"Paducah KY has changed its annual Christmas parade to a 'Holiday' parade, in order to be more 'inclusive.' Inclusive of who, I don't know. The city literally has a Christian church on every street corner."
- From: Georgetown Lawyer
"When is the War on Christmas feature beginning? Here's an e-mail I received from the Catholic Jesuit Georgetown University. It made me sick to my stomach.
DECEMBER 9, 2005
Special Events and Campus Ministry
Holiday Tree-trimming Party
- From: Patrick Arsenault (email him):
"I thought you guys might wanna look at this site, [Pennsylvania State University Office of Human Resources/ Holidays] and note that these sick individuals try as hard as possible not to mention Christmas, and yet they must refer to it directly so they opt to instead use 'the December 25th holiday', all the while referring to 'the January 1 holiday' as New Year's Day, easily, in the very same sentence.
(Arsenault maintains his own War On Christmas website.)
- From: [Anonymous]
Religious McDonald's Sign Draws Attention In Raleigh, WRAL.com, December 14 2005
"RALEIGH, N.C. -- …The sign at McDonald's on the corner of Falls of Neuse and Spring Forest Road reads: 'Merry Christmas, Jesus is the Reason for the Season.' It is a holiday message that Amanda Alpert thinks comes on a little too strongly.
"'It offends me because it specifically talks about Jesus, Merry Christmas. It doesn't give credit to anyone else,' Alpert said.
"Alpert called the McDonald's corporate office in Atlanta and requested that the sign be changed to the politically correct Happy Holidays. The response was the owner has the right to do what she wants with the sign.
"'I care because I'm Jewish, and the reason for the season is upsetting to me,' Alpert said….
"McDonald's managers say the sign has been good for business. They say church groups have stopped by to eat, and some people who usually don't eat food from McDonald's have stopped by because of the sign."
(McDonald's is a franchise operation, with the individual restaurants being owned by independent entrepreneurs. Readers report that, in other parts of the country, McDonald's has succumbed to political correctness).
The second reaction of America's commissar cockroaches to this year's peasant revolt: blame it all on Fox/the "Religious Right". Of course, this is annoying for those of us who have been banging on about the Khristmaskampf for years. But there are a lot of cultural/ sectional divisions within the American nation, so this ploy can be quite effective. For the first time, VDARE.COM has been getting a trickle of email from supporters complaining that, in this area, we are following Bill O'Reilly's lead. (Grrrr!)
For example, our friends at the paleolibertarian site lewrockwell.com. Lew Rockwell's sad and surprising Celebrate Christmas, or Else! is apparently motivated by his visceral dislike, as a Catholic convert, for the New England Puritan tradition from which he believes the Bush-voting/Iraq War-supporting/Red State "Religious Right" is descended.
Like others, Lew is excited by the paradox that, historically, the Puritans downplayed Christmas—because they regarded it as Papist. But he has to admit that, even in Boston, Anglicans always celebrated it. The reality is that Puritanism is only one of several American Christian traditions. On the matter of Christmas, it did not prevail.
And even the Puritans never attempted to eradicate the word "Christmas" from the public square. Yet the Post Office's Madonna and Child stamp, the existence of which Lew triumphantly instances as evidence that the War Against Christmas is an "urban myth", is conspicuously described on the USPS website only as "Holiday Traditional" and carefully upstaged by stamps celebrating other purported "holidays".
Something more radical than Calvinism is at work here. Ironically, Lew's emotions have led him to enlist on the opposite side than the one he took in the other recent notable defeat of the culture commissars: their attempt to discredit Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of The Christ. For his instruction, I suggest last year's attack by the appalling Frank Rich both on Gibson and on those defending Christmas (The Year of the 'Passion', New York Times, December 19, 2004) in which the connection is made quite clear.
What now? Somewhat to my surprise, I think Microsoft—about which VDARE.COM has said some critical things—is on to something in an article posted on its Small Business Center website. (I read it because we transmit our email bulletin—subscribe here—with Microsoft's ListBuilder.)
In the ominously-titled Make it a politically correct holiday season: 7 tips, author Jeff Wuorio writes (Tip Six):
Balance it with Christmas. Stay aware of the relative significance of other holidays when compared with Christmas. As most of us know, Christmas is one of the most valued holidays in the Christian calendar—by contrast, Hanukkah is a good deal less significant to the Jewish community. Moreover, Kwanzaa—while of great importance to many African-Americans—is primarily a cultural celebration rather than religious. As such, keep all three holidays in their proper perspective. 'It can be a serious mistake to elevate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah to the level of Christmas,' says Steven Rothberg, president of CollegeRecruiter.com. 'To do so might be really insulting to Christian customers.'
The truth is that there is no "Holiday Season." There is only Christmas. Everything else is a distraction and a delusion.
American Christians do not hunt around for days dedicated to obscure saints—Lew Rockwell can supply a list on request—and celebrate them loudly in order to step on Ramadan or Yom Kippur. Neither should anyone else step on Christmas.
When people get cards wishing them "UNmerry Christmas", then they can start getting offended.
And only then.
"Unless society draws a line—the only obvious place to draw it is at Christianity—an unmanageable tumult will ensue: gridlock in the public square."
This year's award, champagne and an inscribed Alien Nation, goes to Jerry Cline, who shows that there is War Against Christmas and what must be done about it:
"On Friday, December 23, 2005, my wife and I went to the Barnes & Noble in Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio to do some Christmas shopping for my eldest daughter (7). At the entrance of the Children's Section on the second floor were three prominent displays of books: one labeled, 'Happy Kwanzaa', another, stating 'Happy Hanukkah' and the other, the largest of three, and containing only Christmas books, had a sign that read 'Happy Holidays'.
"Looking around, I could find no 'Merry Christmas' signs. So I asked the salesperson why not. She informed me that it was store policy not to offend anyone. I then stated that the exclusion of the word 'Christmas' offended me. She then politely referred me to the store manager if I had any more questions.
"Upon engaging the store manager on the subject, she replied that it was 'corporate policy' and that the signs were distributed by 'corporate.' At that, I informed her that this was highly insulting and asked why the word 'Christmas' was so distasteful or offensive, to which she gave no reply.
"I then handed her a stack of books I had intended to purchase and wished her a 'Merry Christmas.'
"As VDARE.COM readers already know, this is not a war against 'religion,' else Barnes and Noble would not have distributed the Happy Hanukkah sign. It is also not a war against racist, Marxist holidays, else the Happy Kwanzaa sign would not have been displayed. As is all too apparent, Christianity itself is the target of this war.
"For all of the fools who deny that such a war exists, I invite them to contact Barnes & Noble and ask them why only Christmas was so singularly offensive."
5 a.m. on January 7—See you next year!
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)