We wish you a buried Christmas...
...and a jappy Jew queer. Or so some claim.
Last year was the first one in which I remember the substitution of "Happy Holidays" for "Merry Christmas" by numerous merchants and other public entities becoming an attention-gathering issue. As you might imagine, I didn't really care; I'm an atheist who is technically a "Christian" by birth (the WASP son of an agnostic and a lapsed Catholic), has always taken part in the commerical ritual of modern-day Christmas, and -- being well aware of the pagan origins of the holiday presently dictated by consumer extravagance and credit-card debt -- has never questioned the clear detachment of the life and times of Jesus Christ from Frosty the Snowman, red-nosed reindeer, or egg nog.
Moreover, I took no special pleasure in watching innumerable Christians complain about an increasingly popular move which, according to their claims, is aimed at striking Jesus from the American historical record and denying this nation's "Christian heritage" (which is demonstrably nonexistent, but that's for another disgustion). If anything, I initially found it odd that Christians would rail so strongly in favor of ensuring that tableaus rife with toy-making elves, popcorn garlands, mistletoes, and the Grinch would reign supreme in the public eye over menorahs and Kinaras, given that Jesus would likely have been mortified by the whole Yule display of human excess at its finest. But then I quickly reminded myself that vocal Christians' chief mission is to blindly ensure that the word "Christ" appears in this country in as many places as possible, regardless of context. They may claim to wish only to spread "God's word," but at heart they're all for the P.T. Barnum model of publicity. Like every other business, they enjoy free advertising, but in their case they literally feel entitled to it, which makes their declarations of woe especially malignant.
This year, the volume level of this particular channel has shot up tremendously. Since before Thanksgiving, every day has brought several news items revolving around the decision of a major retailer or outfit such as Wal-Mart or the USPS to de-emphasize Christmas in favor of a more general approach to getting people to buy shit during the all-important holiday season. Here is a representative one. Note the pastor's observation: "The way I see it is retailers want to make Christmas money without acknowledging Christmas." That's right -- not unlike the way Christians want creation "science" taught in public schools without acknowledging science. Then there are amazingly vacuous bits of "but why, Grandpa?"-style demagoguery like this, and biology professor P.Z. Myers has a nice summary of the whole circus at the eminently pro-nontheist Pharyngula.
Bill O'Reilly, who would be the first person admitted to Hell if there really were such a place and its chief sexual harassment correspondent, wasted his and his viewers' time (not that people parked nightly in front of Fox have anything better to do) with this segment, in which he examined who is and isn't adopting the MC-HH transmogrification. In each instance of "Christmas-squashing," a large band of wingnuts has surfaced to generate large amounts of static about the efforts of secularists, liberals, communists, atheists and their chief abettor, the ACLU, to destroy "the true meaning of Christmas," though no one seems clear on what that actually is, with the possible exception of the ancient Romans.
To hear them tell it, the National Guard is standing by and prepared to sweep anyone uttering a peep about Christmas off the streets and in the general direction of Gitmo. They're also convinced that the phrase "Happy Holidays" somehow excludes Christmas by not making overt mention of it -- an archetypal example of Christians' demand for pedestal placement.
To be honest, especially given America's slate of more pressing concerns, this is a bunch of bullshit. There's no reason people should be hesitant to sing Christmas carols, deck the halls, display trees or nativity scenes. Christians, though misguided in myriad ways and especially in conflating the American holiday with the Jewish folk hero, are correct in pointing out that Christmas is an American tradition. If a guy like me can swallow it without wincing, it can't, at its root, be faith-driven.
The maneuverings of the ACLU may seem excessive. The thing is, if Christians aren't kept in check at all times, they engage in increasing levels of tomfuckery until someone shuts them down. Whenever they claim to be asking only for equal treatment, they're demanding the expansion of the special treatment they already enjoy across multiple realms. The best example I can provide is the gathering of mushbrains at StopTheACLU.com, whose collective penchant for whine-based lying is trumped only by its writers' and followers' inability to understand the subjects they choose to rant about. That the government gives these talking cloacas property-tax exemptions and money for bullshit-based sex abstinence programs says it all. So it's best to nip their machinations in the bud.
Overall, when I watch Christians squawk and stomp their feet over the "denigration" of Christmas, the term that comes to mind is just desserts, or, if you prefer, divine retribution. For as long as anyone can remember, plenty of us have been telling Christians -- directly and indirectly, personally and through media or legal channels -- that we don't want them coming to our homes to push their mythology on us, we don't want them arsing up our biology classes or biomedical research, we don't need their ideas about homosexuality to become a part of American law, we don't care for their insane ideas about the origins of natural disasters, we aren't sympatico with their conviction that God and morality are inextricable, and we don't give a rip what their charmed book of ghost stories claims will happen if we stick our pee-pees in places some jealous skygod allegedly doesn't approve of. But feeling supremely entitled to the imposing of their views on anything with a pulse, they've never paid attention. They're surely unable to grok or appreciate the irony here, but it's fun to watch anyway.
In addition, we non-theists have stressed at every opportunity that it's not Christianity per se that is bothersome but religious aggression, which of course is virtually synonymous with fundagelicalism in the United States. Ever notice that Jews, Native American spiritualists, and Buddhists aren't out to convert people? It helps to not be worried about being posthumously shipped off to black-fantasy-world furnaces and torture chambers where no one bothers to keep track of the time.
The bottom line is that Christians are choking on their own bile. The funniest part of it is that if they bothered to act remotely in accordance with what they supposedly stand for, they wouldn't have to.