< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: The War on Christmas

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The War on Christmas

In the media and multiple op-eds around the nation, much has been made about the so-called "war on Christmas," (For an example, check out realclearpoiltics.com, which has a ton of op-eds on this topic). No one has pushed this idea more than Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times challenging O'Reilly to focus on fighting for the poor rather than fighting for people to say Merry Christmas. Below is Kristof's article, which I think is a good argument against the misguided and worthless arguments over the "war on Christmas."

A Challenge for Bill O'Reilly


Let us all pray for Bill O'Reilly.
Let us pray that Mr. O'Reilly will understand that the Christmas spirit isn't about hectoring people to say "Merry Christmas," rather than "Happy Holidays," but about helping the needy.
Let us pray that Mr. O'Reilly will use his huge audience and considerable media savvy to save lives and fight genocide, instead of to vilify those he disagrees with. Let him find inspiration in Jesus, rather than in the Assyrians.
Finally, let's pray that Mr. O'Reilly and other money-changers in the temple will donate the funds they raise exploiting Christmas - covering the nonexistent "War on Christmas" rakes in viewers and advertising - to feed the hungry and house the homeless.
Alas, not all prayers can be answered. Fox News Channel's crusade against infidels who prefer generic expressions like "Happy Holidays" included 58 separate segments in just a five-day period.
After I suggested in last Sunday's column that a better way to honor the season might be to stand up to genocide in Darfur (a calamity that Mr. O'Reilly has ignored), Mr. O'Reilly denounced me on his show as a "left-wing ideologue." Bless you, Mr. O'Reilly, and Merry Christmas to you, too!
Later in the show, Mr. O'Reilly described us print journalists in general as "a bunch of vicious S.O.B.'s." Bless you again, Mr. O'Reilly; I'll pray harder for the Christmas spirit to soften your pugnacious soul.
Look, I put up a "Christmas tree," rather than a "holiday tree," and I'm sure Mr. O'Reilly is right that political correctness leads to absurd contortions this time of year. But when you've seen what real war does, you don't lightly use the word to describe disagreements about Christmas greetings. And does it really make sense to offer 58 segments on political correctness and zero on genocide?
Perhaps I'm particularly sensitive to religious hypocrites because I've spent a chunk of time abroad watching Muslim versions of Mr. O'Reilly - demagogic table-thumpers who exploit public religiosity as a cynical ploy to gain attention and money. And I always tell moderate Muslims that they need to stand up to blustery blowhards - so today, I'm taking my own advice.
Like the fundamentalist Islamic preachers, Mr. O'Reilly is a talented showman, and my sense is that his ranting is a calculated performance. The couple of times I've been on his show, he was mild mannered and amiable until the camera light went on - and then he burst into aggrieved indignation, because he knew it made good theater.
If Mr. O'Reilly wants to find a Christmas cause, he should invite guests from Catholic Relief Services, World Vision or the National Association of Evangelicals - among the many faith-based organizations that are doing heroic work battling everything from river blindness to sex trafficking. Indeed, the real victims of Mr. O'Reilly are the authentic religious conservatives, because some viewers falsely assume that ill-informed bombast characterizes the entire religious right.
(I'm tempted to think that Mr. O'Reilly is actually a liberal plant, meant to discredit conservatives. Think about it. Who would be a better plant than a self-righteous bully in the style of Father Coughlin or Joe McCarthy? What better way to caricature the right than by having Mr. O'Reilly urge on air that the staff of Air America be imprisoned: "Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the F.B.I. and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything.")
Some authentic religious conservatives are embarrassed by television phonies. Cal Thomas, the conservative Christian columnist, warned: "The effort by some cable TV hosts and ministers to force commercial establishments into wishing everyone a 'Merry Christmas' might be more objectionable to the One who is the reason for the season than the 'Happy Holidays' mantra required by some store managers."
So I have a challenge for Mr. O'Reilly: If you really want to defend traditional values, then come with me on a trip to Darfur. I'll introduce you to mothers who have had their babies clubbed to death in front of them, to teenage girls who have been gang-raped and then mutilated - and to the government-armed thugs who do these things.
You'll have to leave your studio, Bill. You'll encounter pure evil. If you're like me, you'll be scared. If you try to bully some of the goons in Darfur, they'll just hack your head off. But you'll also meet some genuine conservative Christians - aid workers who live the Gospel instead of sputtering about it - and you'll finally be using your talents for an important cause.
So, Bill, what'll it be? Will you dare travel to a real war against Christmas values, in which the victims aren't offended shoppers but terrified children thrown on bonfires? I'm waiting to hear.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

--Tom Hayes


Blogger JB said...

Here is another great op-ed by Nicoholas Kristof on the subject of what it means to be a true Christian activist.

Bush Meets St. Peter

Published: December 11, 2005

If a meteorite crashed down on the White House today, the conversation at the Pearly Gates might go something like this.
''Oh-h-h. Where am I? St. Peter?''

''Welcome, Mr. President. I just need to see if you belong here.''

''Well, St. Peter, you know I'm a born-again Christian. I pray every day. I'm very religious. I brought Bible study classes to the White House.''

''That's terrific. And have you helped any lepers lately?''

''Not exactly. But my cuts in the top tax rates will create wealth that will trickle down and help lepers. I'm getting there indirectly, instead of barging through the eye of a needle.''


''And St. Peter, I've been upstanding in defending Christian values. We made sure that we call the tree at the White House a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree. And we sent out 1.4 million White House Christmas cards!''

''Wow! But I don't suppose any Christmas cards went to lepers. Or to prostitutes or beggars.''

''I don't send cards to Democrats.''

''Mr. President, our checklist doesn't have anything about sending out Christmas cards, or putting up Christmas trees. It's more about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and housing the homeless.''

''Well, my administration spent $8,000 for a drapery that was used for years to cover up a breast of a female statue. That was clothing the naked.''

''That was so silly that Lady Godiva went on a ride to protest it. We always get irritated with religious blowhards who proclaim that faith is just a matter of covering up, saying grace, looking dour and denouncing others for being lax -- the Taliban approach. This latest culture war over Christmas is a perfect example of religion based on denouncing others instead of loving them.''

''But St. Peter, they're just trying to put Christ back into Christmas. They see how faith is threatened by people saying 'Happy Holidays,' instead of 'Merry Christmas.' Fox News has covered 'Christmas Under Siege,' and one of its anchors has a new book called 'The War on Christmas.' The American Family Association is boycotting Target, and the Catholic League threatened a boycott against Wal-Mart. This hasn't been my issue, but these are my people, St. Peter. They're doing this to glorify Christ.''

''Frankly, Mr. President, here in Heaven, I say 'Merry Christmas,' but others prefer 'Happy Holidays.' Gandhi prefers it. And a Jewish rabbi told me that his family felt more comfortable with that as well. ''

''But St. Peter, that's one rabbi. ''

''Whose name is Jesus.''


''Jesus says Christmas shouldn't be about picking fights and organizing boycotts. All that legalistic nitpicking just reminds him of the Pharisees. Do you really think that if Jesus returns to Earth tomorrow, his priority is going to be organizing a boycott of Target stores? You think he's going to appear on Fox to say, 'Worry about genocide and hunger later -- first, let's battle with liberals over what holiday greeting to use'?''

''But St. Peter, I increased aid to Africa hugely. I launched a major program to fight AIDS.''

''Yes, your aid programs have been almost divine. And your administration helped lead the way in fighting sex trafficking. On the other hand, Jesus has a particular thing about genocide, and you and Congressional leaders just cut out $50 million that was supposed to go to stop the slaughter in Darfur.''

''Sorry, but it's been so hectic this month with 26 Christmas parties at the White House. I've just been too busy to deal with genocide.''

''Which Gospel did you say you read each day? Up here, we canceled our Christmas party, and held a vigil for the victims of Darfur.''

''St. Peter, you don't mean to say -- how do I ask this? Jesus isn't isn't a Democrat, is he?''

''No, no. He's nonpartisan. His gripe isn't with conservatives or liberals; it's with blowhards. We're always cheering the National Association of Evangelicals because it spends its time fighting genocide, battling sex trafficking, struggling for religious freedom. And there are so many others, like Senator Sam Brownback, who win respect from everybody because their humanitarian work shows they are trying to live the Gospels, not play charades. They're the conservative Christians who make God look great.''

''I guess I was just too busy with Christmas to pay attention to any of this.''

''Up here, we just pray that Christmas could be more than cards, trees and greetings. Jesus is so upset that he's talking of suing the blowhards to regain control of Christmas.''

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

9:09 AM  

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(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)