Sunday, December 10, 2006

There are no weapons of 'mas destruction...

Where are those weapons of 'mas destruction?
A long story short: the war on Christmas wanes.
By Greg Beato
GREG BEATO writes a column about pop culture for Las Vegas Weekly.
December 9, 2006

THE DAY AFTER the midterm elections, the stage seemed set for the bloodiest war on Christmas yet. Democrats were taking over Congress, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a favorite "secularist progressive" scapegoat of conservative pundits, soon would be sworn in as speaker of the House. How would she use her power to destroy the sugar plums dancing in Bill O'Reilly's head? Would reinvigorated coastal cosmopolitans try to destroy Christmas once and for all, hunting down workplace secret Santas, forcing brewers to produce kosher versions of their annual Christmas ales?

But just as it was beginning to look a lot like the holiday that dare not speak its name, Wal-Mart came out of the Christmas closet and embraced the Christ child's birthday with explicitly merry greetings and full-frontal shots of Christmas trees in its December ads. Target followed suit with a plan to sell limited-edition angel ornaments, with the profits going to the Salvation Army.

Meanwhile, Hollywood, ground zero of Christianity-hating secularism, continues to stuff theaters and basic cable with pro-Christmas fare such as "The Nativity Story," "One Magic Christmas," "A Season for Miracles" and so on -- pictures that rarely win big ratings or substantial box office and that the movie industry apparently produces out of simple Christmas cheer.

And the Democrats have yet to outlaw those pine-tree air fresheners that look like little Christmas trees.

For the yuletide soldiers who've re-upped for the annual fight against the war on Christmas, all this peace on Earth presents a problem. Two years ago, Jerry Falwell explained how Jesus-hating secularists were scheming to "steal Christmas from America." O'Reilly, Fox News' most dependable yule log, called their efforts an attempt to "destroy religion in the public arena" and open the floodgates for the progressive agenda.

Secular America's insufficient merriness was such a hit with Fox viewers that the network renewed the war on Christmas story in 2005. According to, Fox aired 58 segments on the subject during one frantic five-day holiday binge last December. In O'Reilly's mind, apparently, only a thin line of theologically frank Hallmark cards was keeping us safe from "gay marriage, partial-birth abortion, euthanasia, legalized drugs [and] income redistribution through taxation."

This year, however, the Catholic League alone has found much success in sussing out new dangers. In the spirit of St. Nick, the religious watchdog group is making a list and checking it twice via its "Christmas Watch" website, which encourages volunteer elves to snitch on naughty "retailers, schools, websites, towns and municipalities that refuse to acknowledge Christmas as part of the 'holiday season.' " Currently, the list features a mere 33 "Grinches," which, given a U.S. population of about 300 million, means we're statistically safer from Christmas attack than Whoville.

As the Who's learned from experience, even one hairy green secularist can do tremendous damage. Still, unless someone discovers new weapons of 'mas destruction soon, peace and joy could erupt at any moment.


Well, I went to Walmart today actually... Just *had* to have the first season of "Bones" on DVD and also "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." It was a freaking *zoo.* I almost felt dirty when I left. The check-out woman was polite, but she did wish me a "Merry Christmas!" as I took up my bag and receipt. To this, I chimed back, "Happy Chanukah!" I was somewhat disappointed that she didn't seem to notice. I'll admit, I was hoping to shake things up a bit.

Even so, this will be my standard response to all in the retail-employed people who tell me "Merry Christmas" for the duration of the season, especially if I'm wearing a magen david... I can hear my mother saying that I shouldn't expect people to be observant of such things, but I do expect it anyway. Call me silly or over-sensitive, but I find it annoying that people *assume* I celebrate Christmas or that I'm anything other than what I am (I've had people take notice of my magen david before, like actually comment on it, and then the next thing out of their mouth is to ask me if I'm a Christian... I can only say, "wtf?"... Then again, I've also been asked if Judaism is a type of Paganism before as well, so I don't know why that kind of stupidity surprises me...).

Truth is that if it weren't for other members of my family celebrating Christmas because it's important to them and if it weren't for this season being a very convenient time of year to visit with family I don't get to see anywhere near often enough, I would go to the movies and out for Chinese like Jon Stewart says all the Jews in New York do on Christmas Day.

I really think everyone should have stuck to the much more inclusive "Happy Holidays!" of last year. After I heard of Walmart's hard-line stance, I was tempted to get a t-shirt from Cafepress last week. It said, "Don't assume I'm Christian and I won't assume you're Jewish." Unfortunately, it wasn't being sold in my size... Until it is, I'll stick with saying, "Happy Chanukah."


ilana said...

This is kind of long for a comment, but...
There are those weird Jews for Jesus people... and the messianic Jews... and some even stranger children of the corn-type people who call themselves something like "The Lost Tribe of Israel".. if you ask THEM if they're Jewish, they say not, and yet the first two might be likely to wear the magen. The latter, it seems, is just a bizzarre cult of what mom terms "The Boys From Brazil" -- all the children look nearly identical, with the same blonde hair, same facial structure, perfect skin, and body type, which leads me to suspect some ancient patriarch lurks in their "compound" and impregnates young women during strange ceremonies.
We just got back from a craft show, and in rural VA, there are LOTS of conservative Christians. They all seemed to be at this craft show, the key illustration being a guy who stopped at our booth and looked around; when we hinted that the holidays were a good time to hunt for gifts for wife/girlfriend/mother/daughter, mom added that if he wasn't a Christmas person, then Hannuka was also a good time for shopping. His response was that he "was a Christmas guy all the way" and told us about a church he'd once visited where the pastor left out the baby, Mary, and Joseph as a way of making the nativity scene more palatable to non-Christians. This apparently enraged the man (and he was quite worked up retelling the story), and mom tweaked him (inintentionally) still further by suggesting that if that was the case, the pastor should have put trees to make it more palatable to pagans, especially since Christmas draws from so many ideologies. This was where I should have kept my mouth shut... but being stupid (and a history major) I chimed in to say that I'd done research for a school paper and that gift-giving was institutionalized by Caligula's proclamation issued during the celebration of Saturnalia. He all but ran away from us because he was so unable to accept that HIS religious holiday might be older than he thought... because, as far as he was concerned, Jesus was probably born in the year 0 and the rest of the world didn't function before then, and Saint Nicholas never, ever punched anyone in the ear at the First Council of Nicaea -- which did happen, according to one of the books I cited when I was working on my paper about the pagan roots of Christmas.
So, no I don't think you're being over-sensitive. You can't look at someone and tell what holiday they celebrate, either, which was one of the things I pointed out to the man before he fled. And yes, Hellmart makes me feel quite unclean every time I go there; it wasn't even Thanksgiving and they were rolling out the Christmas clothes, decorations, wrapping paper, and who knows what else. Bleh! I remember when Christmas was reserved JUST for December, and didn't start six months in advance just to warm people up to the final rush of shopping and commercialization.

Rachael said...

Don't worry about it being long...

Never met the "children of the corn" people, thank goodness. That's scary... The Messianics, unfortunately, yes... They've tried to convince me on numerous occasions that I can "be saved" and Jewish at the same time. ::shudders:: The Messianics and the "Jews for Jesus" are the same entity, as far as I know , and they usually say that they're Jewish if you ask or they volunteer the information. At least, that's what they do when they're proselytizing because it usually gets their foot in the door to Jewish organizations, etc. when normally the door would be slammed in their face.

Other than the conservative Christians who couldn't face reality at the craft show, was it a good day?

ilana said...

It was okay for me. I did about as well as I usually do, thanks in part to the sale of one of the felted bags I took. I'll send you an e-mail I wrote to someone last night; it'll be a bit more detailed as to what happened. We met a few nice people; the folks at the neighboring tables are usually nice, which always makes it a little easier to put up with the crappy parts.

Okay. I didn't know they were the same thing. That's rotten of them, I think, but what can you do besides avoid them?

Rachael said...

I look forward to reading your e-mail.

There's not much one can do except avoid them, but they will sometimes try to insinuate themselves into Jewish Community Center activities in an effort to proselytize. Once they even took out an ad in the Jewish Press (which is a major bi-monthly newspaper that goes out to members of all the local synagogues), announcing the opening of an independent film about Passover, inviting people to the opening night at a local theater without telling them what it was really about. It was about some guy who became a "Jew for Jesus" and then went home for Passover to his Jewish family's home and then proceeded to try to get them to become messianic Jews too. People were pissed. The paper printed a public apology and explanation and everything...

ilana said...

Double yikes. It's really insidious, isn't it. Because we don't live near enough to a Jewish community of any large size, we're sort of insulated from that. Mom was interested in going to the synagogue in a town about half an hour away, but she decided against it in the end because she didn't feel welcome there... especially after the rabbi was really nasty to her at a party last year. The congregation is really insular, too, apparently, and that didn't make her feel very welcome, either.

Anyway.. *sigh* Double ick and double yikes. I can see why people would have been upset by that! Have you seen anything about this new video game that's causing quite a stir? I read something about it in a newspaper mom's been getting from New York (I always chuckle over the food ads on the back page for some reason); it's based on some ultra-religious series of books. The "Left Behind" stuff? I'll be tactful and refrain from making nasty comments, but I think it's pretty clear that I have no sympathy for the people who write or read that sort of book.
Speaking of insidious.. They try to get you coming and going, it seems. *sigh*

Rachael said...

How very awful that the rabbi was rude to your mother! He should have known better than that... I think there's a great portion of the Jewish community which is insulated and overly suspicious of outsiders. I can't understand it. I've taken friends with me to synagogue before and several have said afterward that they felt people were not happy they were there. One said she thought maybe she had "Catholic" stamped on her forehead the way some people kept looking at her. Our rabbi was always friendly though. It probably depends on the synagogue. Those with older, more established congregations, I would expect would be less welcoming than those that are newly formed and full of younger people. I've heard that there's also a certain amount of persistence required sometimes to break through the icy, less-than welcome... But if the rabbi was nasty, sounds like that congregation is just not wanting the blessing of her company and I say "their loss."