Dispatch From The Front Lines Of The War On Christmas

Ken AshfordGodstuffLeave a Comment

Well, the wingers were all pissed at Lowe’s Hardware this week. 

Apparently, the Lowes catalogue features "family trees" instead of "Christmas trees" in their latest catalogue.


Now, I was going to knock off a couple of points against Lowe’s here.  On its face, this was clearly a rather stupid decision.  I’d like to have a drink with the PR guy who thought to himself, "Well, we don’t want to offend any Jews or Muslims or Kwanzans by promoting Christmas trees.  Let’s call them . . . family trees."  Seriously, dude.  Get a grip.  Nobody is going to be offended by Lowe’s selling Christmas trees.

On the other hand, the over-the-top outrage from the Christian right is just as silly:

But is it the sort of thing that we want America to be? Do we want to cast aside our entire history, our traditions and ideals just to avoid a lawsuit instituted by a tiny but loud minority? When do we stand up and say "enough is enough"? When do we find politicians with the guts to pass tort reform legislation? When do we find politicians who will appoint judges who are interested in the law as opposed to activism and getting themselves in the newspapers? How long are we to put up with this nonsense? How long do we turn our faces away while people with ideas antithetical to America run rampant throughout our courts and halls of government?

As I was trying to digest all this, I came across this offering from Lowe’s: the "Holiday Living 7.5′ Pre-lit Switchit Cashmere Hard Needle Bavarian Fir tree".  According to the description, the "tree can be displayed in a traditional format or in an inverted upside down format".  You know, like this….


And then suddenly it dawned on me.

Lowe’s isn’t being silly — it’s being smart.  It’s getting free publicity for its trees by provoking the religious right. 

It goes like this:

  1. Promote "Christmas trees" as "family trees".
  2. This will be deemed offensive to groups like the American Family Association, but not too offensive.  (After all, how loudly can the American Family Assocation complain about "family trees"?  It’s not like they’re being called "atheist trees")
  3. Throw in an ambiguous-meaning upside-down "family tree" and the Christian right gets in a predictable uproar, and puts out action calls to its members, almost always linking to your site.
  4. Make nice-nice with the Christian right, claim it was an "error", and point out that you refer to "trees as Christmas trees in this season’s television and magazine ads and in its advertising flyers".
  5. Free publicity = profit!

Not too shabby a business model.

So, with the Lowe’s campaign come and gone, the wingnuts have now targeted Petsmart.  The particular objections here elude me.  According to the AFA press release (emphasis in original):

A search on PetSmart’s home page found 252 references to "holiday." It also found 43 references to "Christmas." But, alas, this is very misleading. When you click on "Christmas" you are directed to a page containing the same gifts you get when you search for holiday. Of all the items that pop up when you search for Christmas, not a single one mentions Christmas or is identified as being a Christmas gift.

At PetSmart, everything is "holiday."

Now, the gifts they are objecting to are things like a Santa-themed pet carrier and a Santa Plush Toy for your dog.  Excuse me, but wasn’t there a time when the Christian right complained that "Christmas" was so commercialized that it lacked perspective on Christ …and too much emphasis on Santa?  Apparently, those days are gone, because now they’re complaining that descriptions of Santa dog toys(!) don’t reflect enough Christ-i-ness. Go figure.

And that’s the state of play in the War on Christmas.  And it’s not even Thankgiving yet.

UPDATE:  Liberty Counsel’s "Naughty or Nice" list just got released (PDF format)

Here’s the "naughty":

Ace Hardware – "Holiday Decorations" section on their web site. Christmas Trees are referred to as "Trees." Only mention of Christmas is "Christmas lights" and "Christmas Holders."

Banana Republic – Web site: "Kick off the party season in style," "Holiday Gift Guide." No mention of Christmas.

Best Buy – Web site: "Gift Center: This season shop with confidence knowing your holiday will be: Wow Guaranteed," "Great savings… for the Holidays." Gift cards: "Happy Holidays" "Happy Kwanza" "Happy Hanukkah" and "Merry Christmas." No real celebration of Christmas.

Bloomingdale’s – Web site: "Gifted 2007," one "Christmas" ornament, one Christmas makeup kit, no celebration of Christmas made evident, no Christmas e-card or gift card, but there is a Hanukkah e-card.

Circuit City – Web site: "Holiday Gift Guide," "Free shipping by December 24th," "Guaranteeing all orders to arrive by Christmas day if…" Only mention of Christmas is in the shipping fine print.

Dick’s Sporting Goods – Web site: "The Gift Center." No mention of Christmas.

Ebay – "Give Santa a run for his money." No mention of Christmas.

Food Lion – Web site: "Make Family Time a Holiday Favorite" and "Get the latest on what’s new or in season." No mention of Christmas.

Gap – Web site: "For the Season." "Holiday Doggie Pajamas," "Sweet Holiday Dreams Long Sleep Set," "Holiday Graphic Bodysuit," "Holiday Letters Bodysuit." No mention of Christmas.

Giant Eagle Pharmacy – Mentions "holiday," "holiday cards," "Festive Seasonal Boxed Cards," and the slogan "Reach for the Stars this Holiday Season" on the web site. No mention of Christmas.

Hollister Co – Web site: "SoCal X-Mas" video, "Holiday Beach" video. No mention of Christmas.

Home Depot – "Holiday Gift Center," "Holiday Decorations," "Home for the Holidays," "Artificial Trees," not Christmas trees. No mention of Christmas.

ICE.com – "Gifts From the Heart," "This Holiday Give a Gift… to the special people in your life…" No mention of Christmas.

J. Crew Outfitters – Web site: "Holiday Look" "Highland Holiday," "The Very Merry Gift Shop," and "We’re Going Home for the Holidays."

K-Mart – Web site: "Holiday Shop," "Holiday Toys," "Get it in time for the Holiday," "Holiday Planner." They are selling "Christmas Decorations" and "Christmas Trees," but they are calling Christmas "The Holiday." *Local store has large ornaments hanging from ceiling that say "Merry Christmas."

Kohl’s – "Holiday shopping list," no Christmas trees – just Trees, "Hanukkah" section, "Holiday: find the perfect gifts," "45 days left – shipping deadlines," "stocking stuffers," "St. Nicholas station" and "Nativity" section, but never mentions "Christmas."

Land’s End – Web site: "Holiday Gift Shop," "Holiday Stockings," "Holiday Gift Sacks." No mention of "Christmas."

Lane Bryant – "Holiday HQ," "Gift Guide," "For a truly special holiday gift…" "Holiday Season," "Holiday Looks," and "Holiday Style" on the web site. No mention of Christmas.

Marshalls – Front Page of the web site: "Who Wants a Holiday That Looks Like Everyone Elses?" "Holiday Style," and "Holiday Decorating Ideas." No mention of Christmas.

Nordstrom – Web site: "Once Upon a Holiday… gifts were given," "Great Gifting." No mention of Christmas.

Office Max – Web site: "Great Gifts for the Holiday," "Snappy Holiday Gift Ideas," "Furnish your office in time for the holidays," and "Everything you need this holiday season and beyond." No mention of Christmas.

Old Navy – "Holiday Favorites," "Holiday Morning," "Season in Style," and "Holiday Gift Guide" sections on the web site. No mention of Christmas.

Pet Smart – Web site: "Holiday Central," "Photos with Santa Claws," "Holiday Games," "Holiday Wrapping Paper," and "Holiday Shops." No mention of Christmas.

Sprint – Web site: "Tis the season to give SprintSpeed," "Holiday Entertainment," "Holiday Season," and "Sprint lights up the Holidays." No mention of Christmas.