Thursday, December 16, 2004

"Are we going to abolish the word 'Christmas'?"--Newt Gingrich

I can see I need to get out more. Having heard about Bill O'Reilly's claim of being the only defender of Christmas in America (apparently), and being surprised to learn Christmas was even under attack, Frank Rich, in a column that deserves wider consideration, lays out the current "case against Christmas," as presented by its "defenders."

Apparently Christmas is on the verge of disappearing; something which will come as news to all of America, if not the world, since the American "style" of celebrating Christmas is now almost ubiquitous in the world (I remember a story last year about store employees in Germany filing a claim over "Xmas music" being played in their stores in December. They claimed it was a violation of their human rights, because it was inhumane to force them to endure such dreadful music all day every day for a month. I could only sympathize.) But apparently, according to Bill O'Reilly:
"...more than 90 percent of American homes celebrate Christmas. But the small minority that is trying to impose its will on the majority is so vicious, so dishonest — and has to be dealt with."

What's going on? Well, as Mr. Rich points out:
The idea is to intimidate and marginalize anyone who objects to their efforts to impose the most conservative of Christian dogma on public policy. If you're against their views, you don't have a differing opinion — you're anti-Christian (even if you are a Christian).

That, and the connivance of the media. The Rev. Debra Haffner (a Unitarian Universalist minister who directs a national interfaith group, the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, and quoted by Mr. Rich) "detects an overall "understanding" in the media that religion "is one voice — fundamentalist." And, says Frank Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice: "There is the belief that the conservative view won, and the media are more interested in winners."

So this is a silly thing, but a silly thing with momentum. Demonize your opponent, turn anything they say into blasphemy (anti-Christian, anti-American; it's all one), reduce the issue to "us v. them," and get people to vote on their fears. It's perhaps the oldest political strategy of all; and the most effective. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

How do we respond to it? I have some suggestions; some ways, even, of celebrating Christmas (or Winter Solstice, or the year's end, or what have you) that are responses in themselves. I was going to present them in the next week anyway. But now I have a "framing device."

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