While most of us have our attention firmly riveted on the election and whatever feelings of excitement, dread, guarded hope, or please-make-it-be-over exhaustion that that might bring up, we may have temporarily forgotten the other national ritual that happens at this time of the year. I'm talking about the annual tantrum that conservative Christians throw over how horribly persecuted they are by an imaginary war on Christmas. The war as they see it has three prongs, local governments acknowledging the constitutional separation of church and state by refusing to pay for an official nativity scene, schools having "holiday" programs without overtly religious music (that constitution thingy again), and stores trying to be inclusive by using greetings like "happy holidays" or "season's greetings." In recent years, the last of those three has been the one that has most provoked their easily offended senses, leading them to proclaim widely ignored boycotts of any store that uses the offensive phrases.
The holiday whine is a tradition that dates back to, at least, 1921 when Henry Ford wrote that there was a conspiracy of Jewish department store owners trying to destroy Christmas by--you guessed it--saying "happy holidays." Forty years later, the John Birch Society was imagining a war on Christmas run by the Communists through the UN. These days, the sinister force trying to make the baby Jesus cry is godless liberals like you and me.
Rob Boston has spotted the first major whine of the season. The Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, an organization that specializes in unsuccessful boycotts against any business that even thinks about giving a fair shake to their gay employees, is selling buttons and bumper stickers that say "It's OK To Say Merry Christmas."
The War on Christmas is big business for groups like Wildmon's. Keeping the faithful paranoid about persecution is a cash cow that keeps on giving. If Christians weren't paranoid that someone somewhere was undermining their faith and marriage, they might stop giving to people like Wildmon, Bill Donohue, and James Dobson. Then they'd have to lay off their big staffs and get a real job. We can't have them roaming the streets getting into trouble so we'd better do our best to oppress them. Besides, they are the only thing preventing total victory of our radical atheist, gay, and gay atheist agendas. So, everybody raise your right forefinger, turn toward Mt. Crumpet, and repeat after me, in your best Karloffian tones: "I must stop Christmas from coming!"
And Happy Holidays.