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War Against Christmas 2008: A Christmas Eve Report
December 23, 2008
I took a look around Google News and the Blogosphere today—courtesy search engines—to see what is going on in the War On/Against Christmas. (The National Review competition invented by Peter Brimelow in the mid 90s was "Against", but "On" is clearly the more popular formulation.)
A huge change has occurred compared to earlier this decade.
First of all, actual atrocities are harder to find, and many of those about are foreign.
Unfortunately, as I noted the other day, that is partly because news is about change. Enemies of Christmas conquered huge swathes of territory in years gone by: their holding on is hardly news.
And it is clear that that is how the MSM likes it. Most UK stories, for example are provided by one newspaper, the London Daily Mail. There, the editor is interested. Nearly everywhere else, editors clearly are not—the controversy has been declared a non-subject.
A very clear example is National Review itself, now of course just the MSM's Potemkin Village for conservative-minded naifs. Having neglected its own (in an institutional sense) issue for several years, it explicitly renounced it two years ago. Now the word, let alone the subject, is hardly to be found on the NR website. Mark Steyn does break ranks once with a slighting quip, no doubt reflecting the control faction's true feelings.
On the other hand, no doubt reflecting a perception of their target market's actual preferences, the ostentatious use of "Holiday" gratingly apparent early this decade, has been curtailed. Thus Jonah Goldberg, touting his new book, does so under the headline of Christmas Reading I Can Get Behind. (VDARE.COM prefers Steve Sailer's America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story Of Race And Inheritance".
More widely, as the Catholic League's Bill Donohue has noted, he latest gambit by the anti-Christmas Czars is to flood public parks with a vast array of cultural symbols. For example, at the Fort Collins Museum in Colorado, in addition to a nativity scene and a menorah, they are displaying the Indian Diwali Festival of Lights, the Thailand Buddhist celebration of Loy Krathong, the Chinese Lantern Festival, African-American Kwanzaa, Muslim Ramadan, and the Scottish Hogmanay festival.
And this is reflected in a number of op-eds and prominent Letters to the Editor too.
The ludicrous tactic of War Against Christmas Denial, explicitly renounced by the Los Angeles Times two years ago and utterly refuted by the VDARE.COM War Against Christmas archive, is rarely found in the MSM itself this year. It is fairly common (frequently scabrously expressed) amongst more dim-witted left blogs.
However, a fine example from Australia, which could have appeared in any American outlet two or three years ago, is worth considering as insight into what caused this War: Forget the phoney war on Christmas, feel the goodwill, by Adele Horin (Sydney Morning Herald, December 20 2008).
It starts with the familiar aggressively contemptuous name-calling:
"In Australia you can find a parent to complain when the preschool nativity play is ditched in a favour of a musical extolling peace on earth. The tabloid media can always foment mock outrage over a card that says 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas'. Someone can be found to whinge when the Christmas carols at the end-of-year concert are of the Jingle Bells genre rather than the Away In A Manger ilk.
"And a bigot somewhere will use Christmas to try to ignite resentment against immigrants for their failure to appreciate that 'Australia is a Christian country'.
"From the other side, some zealous atheist, Muslim, Jew or civil libertarian may be goaded into denouncing the encroachment of Christmas into a child-care centre or school."
(Any War Against Christmas veteran will immediately see that although adjective-strewn, the facts are conceded.) But Horin eventually discloses her motive:
"As a Jew in a state school, I dreaded the first First Noel and the first Away In A Manger, for they heralded, not for me the angels singing, but a season of confusion and alienation. Australia then was a less multicultural and more Christian nation, less tolerant of difference. It was an era of veiled anti-Semitism when Christians blamed Jews for the death of Christ, and Jews, at least where I grew up, barely acknowledged that Christ had existed.
"Teachers showed no glimmer of sensitivity to the sensibilities of those not in the club. The class nativity play was compulsory, we sang the holy songs, and festooned the room with drawings of the manger, and a baby Jesus I was not supposed to believe in.
"Well into adulthood, Christmas re-awakened in me feelings of discomfort, of being an outsider in my own land. But the more diverse and secular Australia became, the more I have learnt to like Christmas…
"More and more 'outsiders' seem happy to turn Christmas to their own pleasurable purposes so that the day has become a national holiday - and unlike Australia Day or Anzac Day—it's a day for the extended family."
Of course, Christmas has always been a day for the "extended family". But historic Australia had to be destroyed before Adele Horin could bring herself to tolerate the festival. (email Horin)
On a pleasanter note, the American media is finding some room for measured and intelligent discussions of the issue. For instance YOUR VIEW: A battle in the war against religion, by Kevin Cardin SouthCoastToday, December 19 2008 is a good statement of anti War Against Christmas case. I miss "Merry Christmas," but not for the reasons you think by Kathleen O'Brien NJ.com December 21 2008, albeit preceded with some weasel words distancing her from the War Against Christmas foot soldiers, is a charming celebration of the phrase "Merry Christmas".
And from England. Oliver Cromwell and the original PC brigade, by Ted Wallace, (The First Post, December 21 2008), although again preceded by some weaseling, is a useful refutation of the claim that Puritan disdain for Christmas was a large or enduring part of the tradition brought to the New World.
Subjectively, The War Against Christmas offensive has clearly been blunted. This is probably the biggest (perhaps only?) conservative achievement in the Culture War for many years.
The price: eternal vigilance. And support for those willing to defy the PC Commissars and their fashion-fearing fellow-travelers.