War On Christmas

Starbucks Fires The Opening Salvo In The War On Christmas

… and it is a direct hit.

These year, I am not going to mock the War on Christmas.  I’m going to join it.  This time, I’m fighting for Team Pagen.

And so is Starbucks apparently:

The sight of red cups being handed out at Starbucks usually signifies the “most wonderful time of the year” is underway, but this year’s holiday season at Starbucks is already being marred by a red cup controversy.

While red cups of Starbucks past have featured holiday symbols like reindeer and ornaments, this year’s cup is plain.

When the cup was unveiled earlier this month, the coffee chain described it as having a, “two-toned ombré design, with a bright poppy color on top that shades into a darker cranberry below.”

starbucks

Joshua Feuerstein, an evangelical pastor and a social media and internet personality, posted a rant on Facebook declaring that Starbucks had removed Christ and Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.

An interesting claim, because the older cups had snowflakes.

Feuerstein said he “pranked” the store by ordering his coffee and telling the barristas his name was Merry Christmas, which they wrote on his cup. He also wore a T-shirt with an image of Christ on it. He flashed a small pistol he said he carried into the store in defiance of CEO Howard Schultz’ request that customers not bring firearms into the stores even in states that permit open-carry.

The outrage spread over the internet with the help of conservative websites like Breitbart News, who called it part of the “war on Christmas” and said political correctness had gone over the line.

But still, I think Starbucks first shot was a good one.  Maybe we can win the War On Christmas this year.

And to end this post, here’s a response from a Christian on this issue:

What is Feuerstein doing wrong? There are five things I’d like to talk with him about if he’d be willing to contact me:

  1. He’s trying to impose Christian morals on a secular company. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth that holds spiritual meaning for Christians. The rest of the world celebrates other things on December 25th and certainly the least festive thing is to try to make people feel guilty or stupid for not acknowledging your holiday.
  2. He’s confusing a greeting with the holiday. Christmas is larger and bigger and will happen whether a company recognizes it or not.
  3. He’s taking the battle to a company rather than to the hearts and minds of people. As we’ve seen in the past few months, Starbucks tends to serve as a stomping grounds for flashy, dramatic conservative Christian performances of antagonistic faith. It is a great place to demonstrate how you stand up to the “liberals of the world,” and because Starbucks wants your money and for you to like them, they won’t fight back. They don’t care. These people are still buying coffee. And, incidentally, while Starbucks is demonstrated at, friends and neighbors who could be being loved or given truth to about the Gospel are being ignored.
  4. He’s equating Christianity with conservatism. Conservatives are right about a lot–I identify as one–but Christian does not equal conservative and certainly doesn’t equal American or gun-owner. When Feuerstein flashes his gun and challenges “all great Americans and Christians” to “prank” Starbucks as though they are the same thing (probably something he could clarify but which his syntax implies), he’s completely wrong.
  5. Feuerstein isn’t convincing anyone. By accusing Starbucks of hating Jesus in his video description, he’s vilifying them and using flashy click-bait tactics to spread his video. His tactics encourage disagreement and win-lose situations.

What should we be doing? 

If you’re an American and a Christian worried about the growing absence of Christ in public businesses or institutions there are three things that we can do that won’t make the situation worse:

  1. We can stop martyring ourselves with no cause and stop “fighting back” with flashy, viral, passive-aggressive demonstrations. Losing a Christmas greeting on a cup is very small battle compared to the battle for the one neighbor you’ve been meaning to tell about Jesus but haven’t gotten around to talking to yet. Starbucks isn’t persecuting us and even if they were, our marching orders from Christ himself are simple: “Turn the other cheek.”
  2. Do extraordinary acts of love. It’s not about winning arguments or using brute shows of force. By the way, if Feurestein is correct in saying that tens of thousands of Christians have visited Starbucks in the last 20 hours and done this, that’s at least $100,000 worth of business he’s sent to his opponent. Starbucks is laughing all the way to the bank. And if Feuerstein’s sarcastic, flippant, aggressive attitude is indicative of the attitudes of those working with him, Starbucks employees probably aren’t being convinced of the extraordinary love of Christ.
  3. Stop equating Christianity with America or conservatism or gun rights. Civilizations come and go. They are mortal in the truest sense as C. S. Lewis points out in The Weight of Glory. Human souls are eternal. If we were expelled from America, lost all of our guns, or couldn’t vote for Republican candidates anymore, we Christians would still be Christians, and we could still follow Christ. The rest of that can melt away. (Admittedly, such a situation sounds terrible, and it’d be difficult for me to let go of some of those things peacefully, but Christ is in me perfecting me so that I truly can cling to Him when I lose everything else.)

That’s all I’ve got to say….

Trump Beginning To Lose Hard Right?

Moments ago at the conservative Value Voters summit (which met Rubio this morning to much applause), this happened:

Trump also does this:

Seriously? THAT old chestnut?  P.S.  Check out this inspiring Churchillian oratory:

CPxEfFfWwAAl5nH

Megyn vs. Jon: What Color Is Santa?

Santa Claus is not real, so he can be any color anybody wants him to be.

But this didn't sit well with Fox News Megyn Kelly:

 

Oy.

After the controversy came to a boil, Kelly tried to dismiss her attitude in the segment:

"In kicking off the light-hearted segment, I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching, saying that Santa — who I joked was a real person whose race was identifiable — is white," Kelly said. "Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes, that is lost on the humorless." She then lambasted her critics for failing to get the joke.

No, you weren't.  You were totally serious, Kelly.

When a child says terrible racist things, and then says "I was only kidding", it's reprehensible.  But coming from someone who claims to be a "news journalist"?

There are no words.

Wrong Guy?

You know, what with the Boston Marathon bombing last week, we almost forgot about the other "terrorist" — the guy who sent ricin in the mail to his Senator and President Obama.

Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested last Wednesday.

Except… hmmmm… there's breaking news that they released him today, the day of his first hearing before the court:

A federal official says the man charged with sending poison letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge has been released from jail.

Jeff Woodfin, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Oxford, Miss., says Paul Kevin Curtis has been released from custody.

Woodfin says he doesn’t know if there were any conditions on the release.

The development comes hours after officials canceled a detention and preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Curtis was arrested Wednesday at his house in Corinth, Miss., and charged with sending ricin-laced letters to Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker and a Lee County, Miss., judge.

Through an attorney, the 45-year-old Curtis has said he is innocent.

Law enforcement screwup?

UPDATE: Twitter is alive with rumors that there was another Ricin attack at an Air Force Base today.  So maybe Curtis' claims of innocence were right after all.

The War On Christmas 2012

No, it hasn't gone away.  It's very very real, so says Bill O'Reilly.

And now we know who is behind it… the gays!

 

MCGUIRK: The war on Christmas is very, very real, and if you ask me, in addition to some grouchy misanthropic heathen atheists it has to do — at the root of it — with two things — abortion and the gay rights agenda, because Christianity is against those things. It’s subtle but that’s why it’s so pronounced in recent years.

O’REILLY: Hundred percent agree. I absolutely agree 100 percent that the diminishment of Christianity is the target and Christmas is the vehicle because the secularists know the opposition to their agenda (legalized drugs is in that as well) comes primarily from the Judeo-Christian traditionalist people.

Oy.

Racist Non-Reaction

Ok.  I'll say it.

Last weekend, there was a terrorist attack.  The shooter was white; the victims were Sikh.

There was, of course, a negative reaction — but now, a few days later, all seems to have normalized.

Thought experiment: Suppose the same thing had happened, except that the shooter was of Arab descent, and the victims were white?  Would reaction be muted by now?

I think not.

Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic asks the same question:

Hold the victims constant and give the perpetrator the last name Mohammed. Does anyone think for a moment that such an attack wouldn't still be the most discussed story at Fox News andNational Review? And at various network news shows and unaffiliated newspapers for that matter?

Instead Wade Michael Page was the gunman.

***

It ought to be self-evident that non-Muslims perpetrate terrorist attacks, and that a vanishingly small percentage of Muslims are terrorists, but those two truths aren't widely appreciated in America. That doesn't mean they won't reassert themselves, for terrorist attacks have always been with us; the tactic has never been exclusive to a single ideology for very long; and the power the state marshals against one sort of terrorist is sure to be first to hand when another sort strikes. 

Anxiety over this possibility was evident early in President Obama's term, when a Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism was roundly denounced by conservative bloggers, who know as well as anyone that you don't want to wind up in a class of people whose rights are determined by the Office of Legal Counsel. Spencer Ackerman just did a followup with that report's author. Whatever you think of the document, its warning against the possibility of a disgruntled military veteran perpetrating right-wing extremist violence seems vindicated by initial reports from Wisconsin.

***

[T]he American majority is naturally loath to focus its attention on a terrorist who looks, talks, and dresses as they do. It is particularly uncomfortable for those in the country who feel most reflexively safe when "an American" is beside them on a plane, instead of a bearded man with a turban. Watching Oak Creek, that subset of Americans was put in a position to realize that a day prior they'd have identified with the terrorist more than his victims. 

And so they quickly looked away.

I’m Opposed To Aborting Jesus, Too

The anti-abortion activists have a new protest tactic for Christmas — empty manger Christmas caroling!

Here, for example, is a schedule of upcoming events from a Pro-Life Wisconsin website:

Last year's Empty Manger Christmas Caroling effort was so popular, we're doing it again this year, and in more cities to boot!  

What better way to bring the joy of Christmas to a place where hopelessness abounds? 

Dates, times and locations as follows (please note the La Crosse location has been added and the Appleton time is finalized):

- Milwaukee: Pro-Life Wisconsin and 40 Days for Life of Milwaukee will be singing Christmas carols on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. both days, outside Affiliated Medical Services. Affiliated is located at 1428 N. Farwell Ave, Milwaukee. 

- Madison: PLW affiliate Vigil for Life will be singing Christmas carols on Dec. 22 at 5:30 pm at Planned Parenthood, 1306 Orin Road, Madison.  

- Green Bay: Pro-Life Wisconsin and 40 Days for Life of Green Bay will be singing Christmas carols on Dec. 23 at 3pm at Bellin Hospital, 744 South Webster Avenue, Green Bay. 

- Appleton: Pro-Life Wisconsin will be singing Christmas carols on Dec. 23 at 5:30 pm at Planned Parenthood, 3800 North Gillette Street, Appleton. 

- La Crosse: PLW affiliate 40 Days for Life of La Crosse will be singing Christmas carols on Dec. 22 at 3 pm at Options Clinic, 1201 Caledonia Street, La Crosse. 

We will have copies of Christmas carols and the empty manger. Please spread this message far and wide. Most of all, prepare the way of the Lord by joining us in song to glorify the King of kings. 

[Emphasis mine]

Um, ok.

Caroling

GOP Candidate Lie Of The Day

"I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." – Rick Perry in his new ad

Hey, Rick.  Kids CAN openly celebrate Christmas AND pray in school.  There's a difference between (1) schools compelling religious celebration and (2) schools squelching religious celebration.  Neither one should happen.

Did I just explode your little Texan head?

The Reason For The Season

The Scottsdale (AZ) Gun Club is inviting people to enjoy Santa and Machine Guns.The family event allows people to take a holiday card picture with St. Nick — and a high-powered fire arm.Santa poses against a backdrop of an $80,000 Garwood minigun.Families can choose to pose with other firearms, ranging from pistols to modified AR15s. They also get a chance to test out the machine guns.

Family Pictures Taken With Santa, Machine Guns: MyFoxPHOENIX.com

Maybe Gabrielle Giffords will show up.

Why The “War on Christmas” Isn’t That Big This Year

Here it is — December 1 — and you are hearing almost NOTHING about the "War on Christmas".  What gives.

Sam Summers, a social psychologist at Tufts University*, has the answer:

According to recent reports, the "War on Christmas" may be in its final throes, and contrary to the fears of many, Christmas is winning. 

In fact, one of the groups that has lobbied most vocally on this issue, the American Family Association, faced a challenge this year even finding a Public Retail Enemy #1 to boycott. Indeed, only 8 stores remain on their 2010 "Companies against Christmas" list, headed by Dick's Sporting Goods. And what was Dick's heinous crime? An on-line collection referred to generically as the "Holiday Shop," which failed to make use of Christmas-specific nomenclature.

Oh, wait a minute… scratch that… Dick's has announced that as of November 28th, they'll be rolling out their "Christmas 2010" advertising campaign. And already today, on their official website, the "Holiday Store" is no more.

Phew. Boycott averted. Make that just 7 stores left to raise arms together in the increasingly lonely offensive being mounted against all that is righteous and good.

Yup.  There's not much of a War on Christmas this year because the Christ forces have won.

But I like what Dr. Summers continues to say:

Taking a step back, this whole notion of the "War on Christmas" reflects an interesting psychology underlying victimhood. Ever notice that people get pretty territorial when it comes to their own group's role as victims? I've heard many Jews bristle at the application of the term "Holocaust" to other examples of genocide. Same goes for the resistance of some African-Americans to recognize, say, the current same-sex marriage movement as a matter of civil rights. It seems that we often view victimization as a zero-sum game: more for you means less for me.

Now keep in mind, I'm not equating feelings about genocide, slavery, or institutionalized racism to the Christmas debate. But these examples certainly illustrate how defensive we can be when thinking about our own group's misfortunes. And in recent years, we've reached the point where the traditionally empowered majority wants to stake its claim to a piece of this victimhood pie as well.  Woe is me, just as much as it is you, the argument seems to go.

This all ties into to the origins of the "War on Christmas" idea. It's an effort–this time employed by factions of the majority group–to say, hey, you may think you've got problems, but so do we! By claiming victim status, we not only draw attention to our priorities and preferences, but we also give ourselves a ready-made excuse the next time we want to oppose or refute a claim of bias by other groups. As in, tough luck; we all get the short end of the stick sometimes, so deal with it.

Sure, in previous years some companies went overboard in their efforts at inclusion: I mean, really, why call it a holiday tree when we all know it's a Christmas tree? But still, what is there about a generic "Happy Holidays" that could possibly offend anyone? Or would, in any way, infringe upon people's ability to enjoy Christmas? In the past few years, have there really been that many conversations ending with, "Kids, I'm sorry to say we can't have Christmas this year–the grocery store receipt only saysWishing You a Happy Holiday Season"?

Of course not. Freedom of religion or the right to celebrate as you see fit have never been the issues here. After all, for years my family (and millions of others who don't celebrate Christmas) have had perfectly joyous celebrations of our own winter holidays without having the names of those occasions spelled out for us in store mailers, billboards, and websites.

50928-40681 You see, if this movement were really about restoring the importance and meaning of Christmas, then who in their right minds would ever couch it in the parlance of religious "war"? Nothing like a good military allusion to conjure up the true spirit of Christmas, right?

No, the "War on Christmas" has never been about religious freedom, individual rights, or even the supposed scourge of political correctness. Rather, it's just an attempt to get attention, jockey for victimhood, and make sure that other groups aren't passing yours by. The ability to celebrate as you and your loved ones wish to celebrate has never been at issue–unless your family had a tradition of meeting for Midnight Mass at Dick's Sporting Goods.

Yup.  So maybe it is a good thing that the "War on Christmas" has come to an end.  Now we won't have to here whiny religious organizations complain about how oppressed they are when they have to endure the degrading "Happy Holidays" banners at Walmart.

* I majored in social psychology at Tufts University, so I'm happy to throw this over to a social psychologist at Tufts University

************

Perhaps I spoke too soon:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday that he won't participate in Tulsa's Holiday Parade of Lights until organizers put "Christ" back in the event's title. 

"Last year, the forces of political correctness removed the word 'Christmas' and replaced it with 'Holiday' instead," the Oklahoma Republican said. "I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this change." 

Inhofe, who was Tulsa's mayor from 1978 to 1984, said he had participated in the parade annually, riding a horse as his children and grandchildren watched. 

"I did not do so last year because I'm not going to ride in a Christmas parade that doesn't recognize Christmas," he said. "I am hopeful that the good people of Tulsa and the city's leadership will demand a correction to this shameful attempt to take Christ, the true reason for our celebration, out of the parade's title. Until the parade is again named the Christmas Parade of Lights, I will not participate." 

Sensitivity Training

Don't tell me the anti-mosque crusade isn't about bigotry and racism.  Sure, the anti-mosque-eteers might give some lip to service to their notion that a "mosque" "at" Ground Zero offends the 9/11 families, but it doesn't take much to see that what's going on is more sinister: they don't want the mosque because they just don't like olive-skinned people.  Read this excerpt all the way through [source]:

Sunday's crowd included representatives of the conservative Tea Party movement, some of them wearing anti-tax T-shirts that had nothing to do with Ground Zero, Islam or terrorism.

"We must take a stand and we must say no," shouted rally organizer Pamela Geller as the crowd roared approval. Moments later, another keynote speaker, Robert Spencer, sparked more cheers when he asked, "Are you tired of being lied to?"

Spencer, however, did not explain precisely what lies he was referring to.

Many protesters held American flags. Many carried signs.

"A Mosque at Ground Zero Spits on the Graves of 9/11," one placard proclaimed. Another sign depicted a toilet, with this message: "This is a Mosque. Do You Want it Built at Ground Zero?"

At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

"Go home," several shouted from the crowd.

"Get out," others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called "The Way." Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

Nice.

House GOP Strikes A Blow In The Fictional War

The War on Christmas, as you probably know, is a ginned-up war against those who show their hate for Christmas by banning the word "Christmas".

Of course, nobody in reality bans the word Christmas, although some businesses like to acknowledge other holidays during the, you know, holiday season.  Still, to some on the right, even the acknowledgement of other holidays and other religions is, of course, nothing less than the equivalent of a public urination on Baby Jesus himself.  Hence, the hyped-up "War on Christmas".

Today, several house Republicans took a bold stand by adopting a non-binding resolution, (H. RES. 951), to make it clear that Congress isn't one of those Christmas-haters.  It reads:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.

Take THAT you people who want to ban references to Christmas.  Obviously, the resolution will pass, but I hope before it does, some smart Democrat attaches an amendment that includes support for the use of symbols and traditions of Channukah and Kwanzaa.  Let Republicans vote that down.

Because Nothing Celebrates The Birth Of Christ Better Than Shopping at Capitalistic Business Ventures

StandforChristmas.com is a new website venture brought to by (who else) Focus on The Family.  It allows users to rate how the "Christmas-friendliness" of various retailers, and by that I mean, whether or not they are sufficiently intolerant of Kwanza, Hannukah, and other Jesus-hating holidays.

Here's a typical comment — this one about Sears:

Comment Date: Nov 30 2009 8:57 PM
Rating: Christmas-Friendly
Comment: I noticed the slogan "More Values More Christmas" on nearly every 2-page spread in the November 29 Sunday flyer. Very nice.

"More Values More Christmas".  Yes, Jesus would love the fact that his birth is used as an occasion to provide discounts.

I think, however, they are getting spammed by people funning on the whole concept.  Check out this comment relating to the Gap:

Comment Date: Dec 1 2009 11:41 AM
Rating: Christmas-Offensive
Comment: First thing I notice is that they are only playing non-Christian Christmas songs (Jingle Bells, etc.). Unacceptable. I ask a clerk, "What is the reason for the season?" and I get back "What?". I buy a shirt and when they ask me what kind of wrapping paper, I reply that I want nativity paper or something showing the baby Jesus. They say they only have snowflakes and snowmen and green/red paper. What does green and red have to do with JESUS?

Or this relating to Borders:

Comment Date: Nov 28 2009 9:47 AM
Rating: Christmas-Offensive
Comment: I find it offensive that this store is so eager to have our money but neglects to honor the holiday. I won't shop here and as much as possible shop in Christian book stores. Borders has an agenda and it is nothing to do with Christian values.

Well, I certainly hope those are jokes.

Standxmas 

The War On Christmas Is Starting Early This Year

From the American Family Association:

Boycott Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic this Christmas

November 11, 2009

AFA is calling for a limited two-month boycott of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, the three stores owned by San Francisco-based Gap Inc., over the company’s censorship of the word "Christmas."

The boycott is part of our ongoing campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to put Christ back in Christmas. The boycott runs from November 1 through Christmas Day.

For years, Gap has refused to use the word Christmas in its television commercials, newspaper ads and in-store promotions, despite tens of thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas and in spite of repeated requests from AFA to do the same.

Last year, Gap issued this politically-correct statement to Christmas shoppers: "Gap recognizes that many traditions are celebrated throughout this season and we feel it is important to display holiday signage that is inclusive to everyone."

Christmas is special because of Jesus. It's not just a "winter holiday." For millions of Americans the giving and receiving of gifts is in honor of the One who gave Himself. For the Gap to pretend that isn't the foundation of the Christmas season is political correctness at best and religious bigotry at worst.

The Gap is censoring the word Christmas, pure and simple. Yet the company wants all the people who celebrate Christmas to do their shopping at its stores? Until Gap proves it recognizes Christmas by using it in their newspaper, radio, television advertising or in-store signage, the boycott will be promoted.

Yeah.  The thing is…. The Gap isn't censoring Christmas….

… it's celebrating as well as other holidays that come this season.  checked out the websites of Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy and quickly found several items that feature Christmas items including several Christmas books, a pair of boxer shorts that says “Christmas” in several languages and pajama pants that also have “Christmas” written on them.

This isn't about censoring Christmas or Christianity; it's about failure to censor other religions.  In other words, the AFA wants you to boycott The Gap because The Gap isn't bigotted, much to the AFA's disliking.

Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on December 25th?

The Bible doesn't mention the birth date of Jesus.  It probably wasn't in winter, because shepherds would not be tending their flocks in wintertime.

The simple reason we celebrate it on December 25th is because, in the 4th century, Pope Julius 1, said so.  Christianity had become the official religion of Rome, and he declared that the birth of Jesus should be a holiday.

Okay.  But why the 25th?  Well, Julius was no dummy.  There were already festive celebrations during that time all around the world – celebrations of the winter solstice by pagens.  In Scandanavian countries, for example, the pagen holiday was known as "Yule" during which a log was burned from the 21st until the new year.

So, Julius basically usurped the already-existing pagen holiday.  No other reason.  The choice of date certainly had nothing to do with Christ's birth.  Instead, it was a calculated attempt to change the nature of already-existing celebrations.

Over the course of several centuries, the choice of date finally paid off, and by the Middle Ages, this time of year was known more for its Christmas celebrations, rather than pagen celebrations.

Christmas trees didn't come onto the scene until the 16th century (a German custom which caught on), and Santa Claus didn't arrive until the late 1700's-early 1800's (originating from the Dutch's Sinter Klaas).  Rudoph, of course, was non-existent until 1939.

So remember, Christmas celebration has its roots in pagen festivities having nothing to do with Christ's birth. 

Just my little contribution to the War on Christmas.

You're welcome.

Winter Wonderland

Aimee Mann with John ("The Office") Krasinski, live at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on December 6, 2008, as part of Aimee Mann's 3rd Annual Christmas Show:

Dispatch From The War On Christmas: Southern California Frontlines

Minstrel Boy has oral surgery, goes shopping, and drops the F-bomb on a WoC commando:

Raisingthetree This is also the biggest time locally for our winter visitors, called Snowbirds. These are mostly retired folks from places like Michigan, Montana, Manitoba, and all the other states that freeze up in the winter. The Snowbirds hop into their motor homes and trailers and head down here to the desert. For the most part they are a big boost to the local economy and are a welcome addition to our small communities here.

While we're waiting in the checkout line, just ahead of us is a archetypal Snowbird. He's wearing the uniform so identification is a snap. Shorts and windbreaker, Costco sandals with sock, shocking alabaster white skin. Most of the locals here at least end up with "farmer" tans, even if they get their farmer tan on the golf course.

All is well and proceeding nicely until the checkout lady finishes up his transaction and hands him his receipt. She says "Happy Holidays."

You would have thought she said "Allah bless Osama bin Laden, and all gay marriages," Because the snowbird guy puffs himself all up and puts on his best Bill O'Reilly look of extreme indignation. He gives her what I expect he imagines as his best imperious and withering gaze and says:

"In MY house we say MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

Declaration-of-war800x1063 Usually I have my normal brought up on the rez type of reserve. I'm not known for being chatty or even saying all that much. Usually I just would have stood there and let things shake out the way that they will. It might have been the creeping pain that I was starting to feel in my jaw as the novocaine began to subside. It might also have been the two Vicodin that the oral surgeon gave me before I left his office. It might have been my extreme feduppitude with the whole bullshit "WAR ON CHRISTMAS" fiction that is so beloved of the social conservative crowd. It might even have been some residual resentment of out of state folks who spent bazillions of dollars in the last election to amend the California State Constitution for the first time in history with the express purpose of denying rights to a whole class of our citizens, including my cousin, with their odious Proposition (h)8.

It might have been all of those things all bubbling up in my opiate addled head. Anyway, the result was that I blurted out in the same cadence and tone of voice as the Snowbird dude:

"In MY house we say go FUCK yourself!"

It's out there, it's been said, the profanity is just hanging there. Everyone within earshot is waiting to see what happens next. The checkout lady is trying to stifle her belly laughs, she's holding on to the cash drawer and grimacing like she's been punched. Snowbird dude has whirled around to face me, he's doing the flushing up from the neck, past the ears thing. He starts to see what he's dealing with. My nephew is laughing out loud, he's also 6'3" tall and right behind me. Snowbird also takes in the bloody gauze poking out of the sides of my mouth, he also sees the opiate dilated pupils in my eyes and the look of wild abandon on my face.

He decides that I am neither a worthy nor a safe debating partner at the moment. He leaves. When my transaction is finished the checkout lady sings a little phrase:

"Happy Holidays to you…
Happy Holidays…"

We all have ourselves a little laugh.

Jon Swift’s Modest Proposal Re: Killer Walmart Shoppers

As you know, Black Friday got off to a great start when hundreds of Walmart shoppers at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y. literally trampled to death a Walmart employee who happened to situate himself between the shoppers and the bargains.

Jon Swift thinks the shoppers should be blanket pardoned:

Of course, my heart goes out to the family of this man who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but while it is unfortunate that someone got hurt, capitalism is not a dinner party. There will always be some collateral damage in a free market. ….

How can those of us who were not there judge people on the front lines of the Christmas shopping rush? Can we honestly say that we would not have rushed past or over this unfortunate man on the way to grabbing the last plasma TV or Wii to bring some Christmas joy to our children? After 9/11 President Bush said that the best way to defeat the terrorists was to “go shopping.” Should we now condemn those who took him at his word? If he meant what he said, then before he leaves office President Bush should issue a blanket pardon to these high-spirited consumers to head off this assault not only on Americans who were just trying to make Christmas a little better for their families in these trying economic times but on the capitalist system itself….

But issuing blanket pardons may not be enough. Kristol goes on to say that not only should the Bush Administration officials who kept this country safe receive pardons, they should be awarded the Medal of Freedom. “They deserve it,” he says. That would certainly send a message to the America haters who think that they can change all the rules just because they won an election.

And if police do succeed in identifying the Wal-Mart shoppers, think of the message President Bush would be sending about the free enterprise system by awarding these great Americans the Medal of Freedom. They refused to horde their hard-earned dollars in low-interest savings accounts but instead went out to spend it, just as President Bush has urged them to do, at an American company that in the best American tradition has given consumers the best bargains possible by not overpaying their workers and by scouring the world for the cheapest merchandise produced in countries that are not subject to draconian labor and environmental laws. Isn’t that the very definition of freedom?

Jon Swift: true to his name.

Black Friday: Hazardous To Your Health

No kidding:

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," saidJimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too…I literally had to fight people off my back."

Linking The War On Christmas To The Economic Crisis

I would call this "overreaching".  From the Wall Street Journal, columnist Daniel Henninger writes:

This year we celebrate the desacralized "holidays" amid what is for many unprecedented economic ruin — fortunes halved, jobs lost, homes foreclosed. People wonder, What happened? One man's theory: A nation whose people can't say "Merry Christmas" is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.

Uh… come again?

One had better explain that.

Yes, one better had, sir.

Now, I will spare you the forest into which that Mr. Henninger drags his readers.  Basically, he talks about the economic crisis and its roots, which he lays at the feet of borrowers, lenders and "secularized shamans" operating in a moral-free, greed-above-all-else environment.

Except for the "secularized shamen" (on which I'll plead ignorance), I'll grant Mr. Henninger's premise with regard to the moral-free world of high finance.

Finally, he brings it home:

What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.

Yes, I'm with you….

Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down.

Okay, still with you….

And so we come back to the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."

Bam!  You lost me.  Come at me again.

It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.

Wow.  So borrowers and bankers are Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals?  Any data on that?  (And isn't that kind of an "obnoxious political opinion"?)

And assuming that's true… that relates to saying/not saying "Merry Christmas" how?

The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.

Look, pal.  Religion isn't the ONLY thing that keeps players "inside the chalk lines".  Believe it or not, one CAN be an atheist AND a moral person.  By the same token, one can be religious AND corrupt as hell.

But even granting that premise, is failure to say "Merry Christmas" really "erasing the chalk lines"?   Is this man suggesting that had the checkout girl at K-Mart been allowed to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays", greedy Wall Street bastards would have shown responsiblity and remorse and not been so get-rich-quick?  Seriously?

I wondered if Mr. Henniniger had gone off the deep end, and then the final sentence of his editorial came along:

Feel free: Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max.

Yes, he means that Mad Max.  In his view, that's what will happen to the world if we stop saying "Merry Christmas" (which, by the way, isn't remotely likely to happen).

Oogedy-boogedy.

The Christmas Police Have Their Updated Rap Sheet

Actually, its just Jerry Falwell's Liberty Counsel and their annual Naughty and Nice List (PDF format).

It used to be called the "Friend Or Foe" list a couple of years ago.

"Naughty" stores are those that use the word "Holiday" in their ads. "Nice" stores, on the other hand, are brave enough to actually use the word "Christmas."  For example, Costco, K-Mart and  Nordstrom are naughty, Best Buy and Wal-Mart are nice.

The Naughty and Nice list is astoundingly petty.  K-Mart's website, the list tells us, has a "Holiday Shop", not a Christmas Shop.  To be honest, I couldn't find this "Holiday Shop" on K-Mart's website.  But I do know that you can go to K-Mart's website, and search for "Christmas", and get 815 items for sale — from trees to creches to ornaments to stockings.

More importantly, this list is astoundingly inaccurate.  For example, it states that on Nordstrom's website, there is "no mention of Christmas".  Yeah, whatever:

Nordweb   

But what they find offensive is that these websites use "Holiday" instead of "Christmas".  That is the criterium which separates "naughty" from "nice".-

And what I find offensive is that the Liberty Counsel doesn't seem to understand that Christmas isn't the only holiday this time of year.

I mean look at the items for sale at "naughty" World Market's webpage for its "Holiday Shop"  .  Notice something (you may have to click the image to enlarge?)

Worldmarkweb 

So what is Liberty Counsel saying?  A company is "naughty" and should be boycotted because it recognizes Hanukkah?

And they wonder why they sometimes get attached with the label "religious bigots"…