On Christmas Day, Beth and I caught a little of Bill O’Reilly continuing to sell his War on Christmas. Hey, what can we say? The Fox News crowd loves war.
Sadly, I don’t think he’s used the term “Blitzenkrieg,” although a Google search did turn up a few web pages that had. Anyway, one of the things he complained about was a billboard in Times Square put up by American Atheists, which apparently also drove a State Senator into a tinseled tizzy. It’s apparently offensive to Jews and Muslims as well as Christians, which is odd as these faiths don’t celebrate Christmas or believe Jesus is the Christ. If I remember correctly, O’Reilly misremembered the message as something like, “You don’t need God in Christmas,” which is actually less offensive. Saying that nobody needs Christ in Christmas isn’t particularly nice to the people who feel they do, albeit not really any meaner than the much more common billboards saying everyone needs religion.
The thing is, I’m not sure what result O’Reilly actually wants out of this alleged war. He wants everyone to acknowledge Christmas, but people who celebrate it in a secular manner aren’t invited to the party? Don’t forget that his main example of how the season is under siege is that a few store managers and school administrators think saying “Merry Christmas” is offensive, and hence urge others not to say it. I can’t say I’ve ever come across anyone who really WAS offended by this, but it’s certainly true that some people miss the forest for the Christmas trees when trying to be more tolerant, so maybe there’s a grain of truth to this. On the other hand, if you basically say, “Christmas isn’t for non-Christians, but they all have to acknowledge it anyway,” then yeah, that IS somewhat offensive.
The thing is, despite what billboards might suggest, I don’t think there’s really much of a divide here. Granted, I don’t have any actual figures on this, but I get the impression that a significant number of people incorporate both the religious AND secular elements into Christmas, not to mention a whole lot of pagan ones.
Sure, most people who accentuate the secular still call it Christmas, and what name could be more religious than “Christ Mass”? Names change, though, and if it were all about origins then we’d have to stop associating Eostre’s holiday with Jesus. Besides, wishing people a happy solstice has a bit too much of a New Age association to it.
If there’s a War on Christmas, it’s not about anyone wanting to do away with the holiday (even the Grinch changed his mind about that), but about O’Reilly and his Foxy friends attacking anyone who dares to celebrate it in a different way than they do. You know, like having a black guy play Santa. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Christmas from Fox News, it’s that out of all the centuries it’s been around (longer if you count its pagan antecedents), it was at its absolute peak in O’Reilly’s own childhood.
Oh, by the way, Sarah Palin loves the commercialization of Christmas. And here I thought Christmas having gotten too commercial was the one thing we could all agree on!