WAR AGAINST CHRISTMAS COMPETITION 2008: [blog] [I] [II] [III] [IV] [V] [VI][VII][VIII][IX][X][XI][XII][XIII][XII][XIII] - See also: War Against Christmas 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Peter Brimelow writes: We've had our differences with Max Blumenthal, son of Clinton consigliere Sidney "The Scumbag" [© Taki] Blumenthal, but I was amused by his classic statement of War Against Christmas Denial just posted in The Daily Beast webzine (Who Started the War on Christmas? "The War on Christmas" started in a white nationalist cabal and spread to conservative media, by Max Blumenthal, December 9, 2008 | 6:09am).
Putting aside the ethnic paranoia and adjusting for abuse ("white nationalist", sigh) and various minor inaccuracies—apparently Barry Diller can't afford fact checkers—it's a relatively good account of VDARE.COM's role in exposing the War Against Christmas, the backlash against which has been one of the most significant cultural developments for many years.
James Fulford and I have lovingly annotated it; we will give an inscribed copy of Steve Sailer's new book AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE" to whoever reports the most outrageous attempt to abolish Christmas in 2008. Email entries to us at [email protected].
And PLEASE don't forget to donate. Blumenthal says we're "the internet's leading anti-immigration web journal". (He doesn't approve) This can only continue if you help NOW.
by Max Blumenthal. (Originally posted The Daily Beast, December 9, 2008 | 6:09am) (links in Blumenthal's text in original)
What would Christmas be without warnings of the secular crusade to destroy it? Thanks to the fulminations of cable news cranks and evangelical moralists, the War on Christmas has become an annual outrage. The story typically goes as follows: secular elements have intimidated stores into replacing the phrase "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays;" nativity scenes have been removed from public spaces under threat of ACLU lawsuits; a decadent culture is moving ever closer to eradicating Christian morality; and America slouches towards Gomorrah.
Judging from the panicked tone of movement conservatives, this year's War on Christmas campaign threatens the country's moral fiber more than ever. According to The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger, the secular Grinch has claimed the economy as its latest casualty. "A nation whose people can't say 'Merry Christmas' is a nation capable of ruining its own economy," he fumed on November 20. [Mad Max and the Meltdown] Having laid off 20 percent of its staff the day after Election Day, Christian right mega-ministry Focus on the Family declared "Merry Tossmas", imploring its supporters to toss out holiday season product catalogs that wish shoppers "Happy Holidays." (The 201 freshly unemployed staffers might have more practical reasons to trash their catalogs.)
[VDARE.COM: Actually, there aren't "201 freshly unemployed staffers"—they laid off 149, and decided not to hire another 53. Blumenthal was misled by the fact that the story said that they'd eliminate 202 "positions. (Focus on the Family to cut 202 jobs at headquarters, Denver Post, November 18, 2008). But why should an economic downturn change a conservative organization's position on the War ON Christmas?]
On December 2, Utah Republican state senator Chris Buttars sponsored an urgent resolution demanding that stores greet shoppers with the phrase, "Merry Christmas." "I'm sick of the Christmas wars," Buttars proclaimed. "We're a Christian nation and ought to use the word." [Buttars takes aim at stores waging 'war on Christmas', By Cathy Mckitrick, The Salt Lake Tribune, December 2, 2008]
The Christmas kulturkampf is a growth industry in a shrinking economy, providing an effective boost for conservative fundraising and a ratings bonanza for right-wing media. So who was the genius that created it? To find the answer, a visit with the ghost of conservatism's past is in order.
[VDARE.COM: Of course, it wasn't conservatives who created the War on Christmas; conservatives are the ones fighting back. Tom Piatak, quoting Adam Cohen of the New York Times, noted that there have long been complaints about the public celebration of Christmas, and William F. Buckley (!!!) editorialized against the New York City School Board's banning of religious symbols at Christmas back in November 26, 1955. (Krismas, PDF)]
Back during the culture wars of the 1990s, Peter Brimelow, then a Fortune [VDARE.COM note: actually, Forbes] magazine editor, grew incensed with the increasing use of the phrase "Happy Holidays" by retailers like Amazon.com. "I just got real interested in the issue," Brimelow told The Daily Beast, "because I noticed over the years there was this social shift taking place where people no longer said 'Merry Christmas.'"
In his 1995 book, Alien Nation, Brimelow argued that the influx of "weird aliens with dubious habits"
[VDARE.COM: See the (large PDF) online version, page 267, for the context: "In politics as elsewhere, if you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer—or at any rate a terse answer. And asking people if they want their communities to be overwhelmed by weird aliens with dubious habits is a stupid question. The answer is inevitable." Of course, this is meant facetiously, the point is that it would never be asked in that form, but obviously the answer will be "No!"]
from developing nations was eroding America's white Christian "ethnic core," and in turn, sullying its cultural underpinnings. The War on Christmas was, in his view, a particularly pernicious iteration of the multicultural "struggle to abolish America."
Brimelow went to his fellow Briton and Tory, John O'Sullivan, then editor of the conservative movement's flagship publication, National Review, with a big idea. National Review should host "an annual competition for the most egregious attempt to suppress Christmas." Though O'Sullivan liked Brimelow's idea, he was replaced as editor on Christmas Eve 1997 by Rich Lowry.
[VDARE.COM: In fact, O'Sullivan—who was fired in mid-1997, effective early 1998—did run the competition for some years, ending at Christmas 1997. We've told this story several times e.g. VDARE says Merry Christmas and VDARE says the hell with it, By Peter Brimelow, December 12, 2000]
With the exception of a 2001 column in which O'Sullivan blamed "religious minorities" for the War on Christmas, the issue disappeared from the pages of National Review. At the same time, the magazine jettisoned O'Sullivan's anti-immigration politics in favor of the Big Tent conservatism preferred by younger writers like Jonah Goldberg and Ramesh Ponurru.
[VDARE.COM: Sic, it's Ponnuru. Blumenthal doesn't link to the John O'Sullivan column, Scrooge on the Prowl, December 19, 2001, but he seems to be hinting that when O'Sullivan used the phrase "religious minorities", he meant "guys named Blumenthal". Not at all—here's the context:
"The sensible response of religious minorities to the sight of Christians celebrating the birth of Our Lord is surely to mark their own religious festivals with equal enthusiasm. And, to a considerable extent, that is now happening: Hannukah, Eid (the feast at the end of Ramadan), and even the Afro-American nationalist holiday invented in 1966, Kwanzaa, are celebrated by their devotees and increasingly promulgated to the rest of society."
Of course O'Sullivan also said
"Attempts to make it a celebration of season or snow or mere meteorology will fail — but there is a danger that they will succeed in annoying most Americans to the point where they will wish others a Merry Christmas not from merriment and kindness but as an act of irritation, defiance and aggression.
And that really would be the triumph of Scrooge."
The shift at National Review forced Brimelow even further into the political wilderness. Shunned by conservatives there rankled by his unabashed racial resentment—Goldberg belittled him in a 2002 column as a "once respected conservative voice"—Brimelow [VDARE.COM: see his reply] founded what would become the internet's leading anti-immigration web journal, VDare.com, named for the first British child born in the Americas. Brimelow's new venture provided a forum to allies like Jared Taylor, a white supremacist [VDARE.COM: nationalist] publisher, and Kevin MacDonald, an evolutionary psychology professor who has argued that Jews are genetically equipped to out-compete Gentiles for resources and power. In 2003, four years after VDare's founding, the Southern Poverty Law Center classified the journal as a "hate group".
[VDARE.COM: We are starting to get tired of hearing that the SPLC did this or that. The SPLC's living comes from finding hate among their political opponents, so they'll find it. They or Media Matters complaining that a given MSM source "failed to note" that we're "white nationalist" or a "hate group" is equivalent to conservatives complaining that the media quotes a liberal source and fails to mention that Ann Coulter called him a traitor. And she's a lot more likely to be right than the SPLC. As for providing a voice for the heterodox, that's our job. ]
VDare became the staging ground for the War on the War on Christmas. Unlike their more respectable counterparts, Brimelow's writers dared to name the true anti-Christian Grinch: Jews. The winner of Brimelow's 2001 War on Christmas competition, a "paleoconservative" writer named Tom Piatak, insisted that those behind the assault on Christmas "evidently prefer" Hanukkah, which he called the "Jewish Kwanzaa," a "faux-holiday." "Teaching children about Hanukkah, rather than the beliefs that actually sustained Jews on their sometimes tragic and tumultuous historical journey," Piatak fumed, "inculcates negative lessons about Christianity, not positive ones about Judaism."
[VDARE.COM: No VDARE.COM writer has ever blamed "Jews" for the War Against Christmas. Here's what the Piatak piece actually said:
"The malice of the multiculturalists is revealed in the way they present the alternative holidays they so evidently prefer. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and all the rest are presented as faux-Christmases, even anti-Christmases, in order to compete with, diminish, and ultimately efface Christmas. If Hanukkah customarily fell in October, would anyone other than observant Jews even notice it?"
Piatak did not use the words "faux-holiday", which Blumenthal must have accidentally edited in, out of force of habit.
As for the expression "Jewish Kwanzaa", that's not Piatak's but, as Piatak says in the article, Frederic Schwarz's. Schwarz is the author of Merry Chanukah, American Heritage Magazine, December 2000, in which he used the expression to make the commonplace point that Hanukkah was a minor holiday which expanded to fit in with the Christmas celebrations of the larger American society. (Also see Tom Piatak's response here)]
VDare's 2005 War on Christmas winner,
[VDARE.com: Wrong—Steve is a VDARE.COM writer, and couldn't be winner of the competition, he just wrote an article on the subject.]
Steve Sailer, a Eugenics enthusiast and author of the new biography of Barack Obama, America's Half-Blood Prince, picked up where Piatak left off.
[VDARE.COM: The early 20th Century liberal eugenics movement had a number of things wrong with it, most of them involving excess government power—forced sterilizations of people believed, on little evidence, to be defective. This has been condemned by Steve Sailer himself in Free To Choose? Insemination, Immigration, And Eugenics. However, all government programs that affect population and parenthood, including tax rates, welfare policy, and immigration policy, are ipso facto either eugenic or dysgenic, whether we like it or not.]
"American Jews," Sailer wrote, "those exemplars of successful assimilation now seem to be de-assimilating emotionally, becoming increasingly resentful, at this late date, of their fellow Americans for celebrating Christmas." Sailer went on to quote at length from a column by the purportedly Jewish writer, Bert [sic] Prelutsky, called "The Jewish Grinch Who Stole Christmas."
[VDARE.COM: We have no idea why Burt Prelutsky is referred to by Max Blumenthal as "purportedly Jewish"—Blumenthal does see cabals and conspiracies where most people wouldn't. Burt Prelutsky is a Hollywood writer and Townhall.com columnist who says he's Jewish. If you want to know how a previous generation dealt with this, you can go back in time through archive.org and listen to Jewish radio comedian Jack Benny celebrate Christmas with the gang. Except for the fact that they usually had Dennis Day, an Irish Catholic tenor, sing Adeste Fideles, they had no problem having a Christmas part with a turkey and such. ]
Brimelow was ambivalent when I asked him about Sailer's theory on Jewish de-assimilation. "It's an argument," was all he would say.
Following the invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush's re-election, and the Republican sweep of Congress, Brimelow said conservative movement elites could no longer ignore the right-wing populism sweeping the nation. Suddenly the War on Christmas was gaining traction. "This issue became very popular in the conservative grassroots, so conservative media had to pay concession to it," he said.
By 2005, Fox News personalities Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson were dedicating entire shows to the War on Christmas. While their rants were directed at "secular progressives," they echoed the arguments of Brimelow's allies. "It's all part of the secular progressive agenda," O'Reilly grumbled. "If you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs, like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage." National Review's website jumped back on the bandwagon, beginning with editor Kathryn Jean Lopez's promotion of Gibson's bestselling 2005 polemic, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.[Amazon link]
Of the conservatives who once dismissed his Christmas crusade, Brimelow remarked with a self-satisfied chuckle, "They went over to the dark side."
From its origins in Brimelow's website and fevered imagination to its popularization by the conservative media, the War on Christmas has become an institution. And the rest is holiday cheer.
Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is forthcoming in Spring 2009. Contact him at [email protected].
[VDARE.COM: The War on Christmas, obviously, didn't start with Peter Brimelow, or VDARE.com, although we're happy to take credit for raising American consciousness about it. We would like to thank Max Blumenthal for calling us "internet's leading anti-immigration web journal", which may cause a certain amount of annoyance in the much better funded Center For Immigration Studies, for example. And we have been slogging away on this issue with our limited funding since 1999.
Max Blumenthal wishes to illuminate for the benefit of the Daily Beast's readers how much harm we've done. We'd like to think of it as how much good we've done. As for his standard attempt at guilt by association, we hardly think that a writing fellow at the leftist Nation Institute, associated with the George Soros funded/David Brock run Media Matters For America, has any business telling anyone who they should be associated with.
But if he's right that we have this much influence—and we do have a good deal—then we can only continue with your help. Please give generously in the spirit of Christmas, Past, Present and Yet To Come, so VDARE.com doesn't become an empty chair by the fireside, like Scrooge's vision of Tiny Tim. ]
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