Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Very Taliban Christmas

Until this year, I've been blissfully unaware that the "War on Christmas" has joined Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and the Grinch in the pantheon of seasonal media perennials... guess I need to pay more attention, eh? Imagine my surprise (dismay, actually) to discover that this was not just some News of the Weird item, but a somewhat serious issue in some allegedly mainstream media outlets.

Well, beating up on retailers (Wal-Mart, Target, Land's End, et al.) during the "overcommercialized" holiday shopping season (there's some irony there, about which more in a bit) is always easy, but today I'm reading reports (e.g., here) that even the Bush White House has run afoul of this self-appointed Christmas Inquisition. It seems that the White House has, like the aforementioned retailers and many others, opted for an inclusive, nonsectarian holiday greeting, sending a "Christmas" card that wishes recipients a happy holiday season. Horrors!

Now, the "overcommercialization" of Christmas has been a theme of public comment for as long as I can remember. In fact, I believe that's one of the major themes in the 40-year-old A Charlie Brown Christmas. Viewed from that perspective, you'd think that retailers "taking the Christ out of Christmas" by using generic non-Christian holiday greetings would be a feature, not a bug... a welcome separation between the allegedly crass commercialism of the season and serious religious observances. Apparently not, according to the "War on Christmas" crowd (and there's that irony I mentioned above).

But never mind commerce, what about the President... our President... a professed Christian? Shouldn't he send out "real" Christmas cards? In a word, no. Let's be clear about something: "Happy Holidays," "Season's Greetings," and such do not insult, demean, or exclude Christians; what such greetings do is not exclude non-Christians. Given that he is, in fact, our President, it's entirely appropriate that Mr. Bush include all of his constituents in his holiday greetings, whether they are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Druids, Wiccans, agnostics, atheists, or whatever. Even secular humanists!

People who reject these efforts at inclusiveness, no matter what they may say, are not "defending Christmas." They are, in fact, attacking all expressions of holiday cheer that are not explicitly Christian. This is the Taliban attitude: It is not sufficient that you tolerate and respect my faith; you must respect my faith above all others. Ideally, you must practice my faith, in the way I consider correct. If you do not practice my faith, you must shut up about the existence of any other faiths, or about the notion that some people practice no faith. It is this attitude that led the original Taliban to destroy all signs of other faiths, even at the cost of denying the world historic treasures, and it is this attitude that motivates these American Taliban to shout down all expressions of winter holiday joy that are not their own.

Now, on the grand stage of world events, arguing over holiday greetings might seem trivial... and it would be, if that were all that was going on. But already the "War on Christmas" has been tied to Supreme Court nominations, and that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Consider: The Bush White House represents the most overtly religious, Christian-friendly administration of my lifetime. If they don't satisfy the "War on Christmas" faction, it's hard to imagine anything short of outright theocracy will. People, I don't care whether you're religious or secular; right or left; Republican, Democrat, or other... you must not vote for these theocrats or anyone who supports them, or enable them in any way. If you think you're safe because you're Christian, think again: If the President isn't Christian enough to suit them, how do you know you are? And if you are today, how do you know you will be tomorrow? Don't forget that under the original Taliban, the people who suffered the most were Muslims.

That's about enough for my first real blog entry, eh? So I'll just say... Happy Holidays!!


PS: This may be the only time I ever defend the Bush White House, so enjoy it while you can. ;^)


ATalbot said...

Secular humanists? What is the world coming to!

Have you heard about teh poll that came out recently that said something like 80+% of Americans believe that saying "Merry Christmas" to a non-Christian intentionally is not offensive.

Good thing we've got Bill O'Reilly on the job. Without him, even if the Executive, Legislative, Judicial, State, and Local branches of government were still controlled by Christians, those secular liberals would have already won.

ATalbot said...

P.S. This guy's blog is great:
Somewhere On the Masthead

Bill Dauphin said...

That poll result is interesting, atalbot. In general, I think it's pretty curmudgeonly to take offense at any heartfelt good wishes, even if they reference a faith other than your own. Getting your knickers in a twist over somebody else's expression of faith is just as Taliban-like as demanding expressions of your own faith.

That said, it's certainly insensitive, and potentially offensive, to deliberately throw your own faith in the face of someone you know doesn't share it. That goes beyond heartfelt good wishes. If, for instance, a Christian group set up shop outside a synagogue and aggressively accosted folks coming out of services with "Merry Christmas"... well, it'd be pretty easy to see that as something significantly less wonderful than seasonal cheer!