Wars and Rumors of Wars on Christmas

I haven’t said much about the “War on Christmas,” but my colleagues over at ITA have. Josh Claybourn posted on the John Gibson book promoting such a war and Ed Brayton responded on the negative side. I myself haven’t made up my mind entirely on the matter. On the one hand, the attacks on harmless things like Christmas trees or school holiday parties (I know of an elementary school that has renamed its “Sugar Plum Festival” to “Winterfest” to avoid Christmas connotations) are your standard P.C. busybodyism and rather annoying to the traditionalist in me. On the other hand, nothing in these little annoyances rise to the level of a vast anti-Christmas conspiracy envisioned by the likes of Gibson and O’Reilly, as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps I’m missing it.

This Michelle Goldberg piece in Salon (registration required) takes the anti-conspiracy position. While taking shots at modern defenders of Christmas (comparing them with the John Birch Society), she makes this good point towards the bottom of the first page, if one concedes that the anti-Christmas conspiracy is a myth: “It’s a myth that can be self-fulfilling, as school board members and local politicians believe the false conservative claim that they can’t celebrate Christmas without getting sued by the ACLU and thus jettison beloved traditions, enraging citizens and perpetuating a potent culture-war meme. This in turn furthers the myth of an anti-Christmas conspiracy.”

Fear can be as big a motivator as much as a legitmate threat. Even if there is no vast anti-Christmas conspiracy, the fear of one can get local schools and governments to change their plans as much as a phone call from a local activist. But here’s a crazy idea for nervous administrators, Christian or not: celebrate the holidays however you see fit. Be jolly. Say “Happy Holidays.” Say “Merry Christmas.” Don’t worry about the anti-Santa crowd until they show up at your door. Something tells me their numbers aren’t as vast as we’ve been led to believe.

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