Last Thursday, we had our monthly editorial meeting, and after, our monthly happy hour. We all crammed into George’s by the Washington Monument for their two-for-one drink special, and as your editors drifted in and out of conversations, something on the news caught our eye. It was too loud to hear anything, but the caption read: "The War on Christmas."
Hmmm…we’d heard about the War on Terror, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs – but the War on Christmas? This was news to us.
But apparently, this wasn’t new to anyone who watches FOX News. The channel has been covering what they are calling "Christmas Under Siege" since before Christmas of 2004.
You may be wondering why people are up in arms. Well, as it turns out, this conflict has many layers, and many strategies. Some retailers, particularly Target and Wal-Mart, are telling their employees that instead of wishing their customers a Merry Christmas, they must use the non-denominational, non-offensive phrase, "Happy Holidays." According to Christian conservatives, President Bush is also involved in this crusade against the merriment; he recently sent out cards with a generic end-of-the-year message, wishing 1.4 million of his close friends and supporters a happy "holiday season."
And on the other side of the battle, at least 1,500 lawyers have volunteered to sue any town that tries to keep nativity scenes out of its holiday displays. And about 8,000 public school teachers stand ready to report any principal who removes Silent Night from the choir program, reports the BBC.
FOX News host John Gibson has even authored a book on the subject, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought. FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly recently interviewed Gibson, and during O’Reilly claimed that the ‘war’ is "all a part of the secular progressive agenda to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square. Because if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs, like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious-based, usually."
We are not bringing up this so-called holiday battle to choose sides, or even dignify it with a response. As far as we’re concerned, if you want to say ‘Merry Christmas,’ go for it. If you feel more comfortable, dear reader, wishing friends and co-workers a ‘Happy Holiday,’ who are we to judge?
What we hope to point out by bringing up this controversy is what lies at its core – something that is a major theme in all empires: keeping the nation involved in wars on the periphery and bread and circuses at home.
"Between 1917 and 1971, the country was transformed from a simple republic that mostly minded its own business to a grandiose empire with imagined interests and real troops everywhere," write Bill and Addison in their NY Times bestseller, Empire of Debt.
"In normal places at normal times, people go about their normal lives earning a living the best they can. But an empire changes the way people think. The common householder turns away from his humble house and his spouse and begins to think about the fair world beyond his kith, kin, and ken. He looks outward and sees how much better the world could be if he and his fellow citizen could run it their way. He sees that he must play a greater role in global affairs…that he must walk on the world stage, not as a bit player, but as the main character – the hero."
Our stance on the "War on Christmas" is irrelevant. We just urge you to not get so distracted by the buzz that the imperial world-improvers create that you lose sight of what’s really going on in our world.
December 19, 2005