Let me start off by noting that the Duck Dynasty, ground zero of the most intense battle in America’s Culture War since Chick-Fil-A, drew an estimated 30,000 people from all over the country to the recent “Commander Christmas” (not “Holiday”) parade in Monroe LA.
The Culture Wars are One.
In 2013, the 2013 War Against Christmas is marked by the same patterns we have seen in recent years: an elite consensus that the War against Christmas does not exist coupled with outrage that anyone should care about constant attempts to diminish the public celebration of Christmas, matched by a steady popular resistance by ordinary Americans to further encroachments on Christmas. This popular resistance, as VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow has noted, is essentially leaderless. But it is nonetheless effective in maintaining this deadlock, even as other fronts in the culture war—most notoriously, “Gay marriage”—threaten to turn into routs by the left.
The War against Christmas, as VDARE.com has long noted, is not confined to the United States, and thus cannot be attributed to the First Amendment. I commented on this in May for Chronicles, after reading a piece in La Stampa describing how the education minister in the Spanish province of Asturias had ordered schools there to replace references to Christmas and Holy Week with references to "winter holidays" and "end of second term holidays." [Spanish province of Asturias says goodbye to “Christmas” and hello to “winter holidays”, By Marco Tosatti, May 21, 2013]The rationale given for this nonsense: the need to "not to hurt peoples' sensitivities," driving home the point that those of us who enjoy the public celebration of Christian holidays simply don't have "sensitivities" worth considering.
La Stampa’s Tosatti also noted similar efforts in Belgium, where All Saints Day has become "autumn leave" and the Carnival preceding Lent is now "relaxation leave." The Belgian bureaucrats reportedly justified this attempt to sever Belgian culture from its roots by citing the need not to offend non-Christian immigrants. The offense given to Christians or those who simply like tradition is, once again, simply not worth considering.
Indeed, anyone who objects to the concerted effort to remove all references to Christianity from the cultures of countries that were formed by Christianity now risks being labeled a "racist," "xenophobe" “anti-Semite” or the like.
Such treatment is not given to the defenders of other holidays. On October 25, 2013, my hometown newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, ran an opinion piece by Libertarian Inc. publicist Glenn Garvin War on Halloween has something for everyone. Garvin argued that the “political right and left have finally found [a war] they can agree on: the war on Halloween.” His argument: fundamentalists can target undercurrents of Satanism, conservatives can target costumes that sexualize children, egalitarians can ban costumes from school because some kids “can’t afford them,” while progressive school boards will try and avoid the whole thing because it’s sure to offend someone.
Nor, of course, is there a concerted effort to come up with euphemisms to avoid mentioning Halloween in late October. Thus, not too long after Halloween, I received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service advertising how it can help in “sending holiday gifts.” This letter never mentioned Christmas, though it did offer advice on how to “Get it there by December 24,” which just happens to be Christmas Eve. And the letter also stated: “Don’t forget your holiday stamps!” and showed pictures of a Kwanzaa stamp, a Hanukkah stamp, and a stamp featuring a gingerbread house but naming no holiday. [USPS ad for ‘holiday stamps’ omits Christmas — includes Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, By Cheryl K. Chumley, The Washington Times, November 22, 2013]
Conspicuously absent was a picture of the Christmas stamp—the same Christmas stamp the Postal Service tried to kill several years ago until it was saved by popular outrage.
Despite rampant War on Christmas Denial, this year has seen no shortage of those eager to wage war on Christmas.
The American Atheists observed Christmas this year by putting up an ad on a digital billboard in Times Square that, according to the organization’s press release, “proclaims, ‘Who needs Christ during Christmas?’ A hand crosses out ‘Christ’ and the word ‘NOBODY’ appears. The display then says ‘Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas’ and offers a series of cheery words: family, friends, charity, food, snow, and more. The commercial ends with a jovial ‘Happy Holidays!’” [Press Release: Atheists: Nobody Needs Christ at Christmas, December 3, 2013]
The American Atheist press release also asserted that “Christianity has been trying to claim ownership of the season for hundreds of years. But the winter solstice came first and so did its traditions. The season belongs to everybody.”
By “everybody,” of course, the American Atheists do not mean those of us who believe that Christmas has something to do with the person for whom it is named.
Even the American Atheists’ press release admits that “We all love this time of year.” And in fairness to the American Atheists, their press release came out before Adam Chandler’s December 17 article in Tablet celebrating the 2003 movie Bad Santa: All-Star Team of Jews Defiles Christmas in Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Bad Santa’.
Chandler regards Bad Santa as “the greatest Christmas movie of all time” precisely because it is really an anti-Christmas film. As Chandler writes, the movie represents an “assault of impiety” and averages over one “f—“word per minute. Chandler quotes director Terry Zwigoff as explaining
how the Coen Brothers [the film’s executive producers] turned Bad Santa from holiday pastiche into scorched earth. ‘Like the kid would ask Santa, ‘Do you and Mrs. Santa ever think of having kids?’ And in the original script it was just, ‘No, thank God.’ And the Coens made that into, ‘No, thank the f—‘ Christ.’ That’s their gift. They have a gift for dialogue.
Chandler also praises Bad Santa for avoiding a happy ending, and hence the suggestion that there is something positive about Christmas. He gloats:
The crucial difference between typical Christmas movies and Bad Santa is that the others oscillate in the direction of yuletide goodwill just before the final credits roll. At first they don’t believe and yet they come to believe. With the ‘othering’ undone, the narrative of Christmas redemption is served. It’s as if the meaning of Christmas would be impossible for others to divine without someone there standing in opposition to it. (See: Christmas, War on.) While Bad Santa jerks in the direction of a happy ending, there is little redemption to be had. After all, no one is asking that we get into the spirit of Christmas or channel its goodwill. For a Jew at Christmastime, it’s all we could ever want in a holiday movie. [Link in original].
Actually, my experience is that the great majority of American Jews enjoy various aspects of Christmas, including the type of movies Hollywood used to make to celebrate Christmas. Indeed, as Steve Sailer has pointed out, Jews were intimately involved in the construction of the historic American Christmas. But there can be no doubt that Chandler now views Christmas as something to be “defiled.” And he sees Bad Santa as doing just that.
Perhaps this year’s most egregious assault on Christmas was the performance of a bowdlerized version of Silent Night at a recent school concert in Kings Park, New York. According to a December 20 article for Yahoo by Beth Greenfield, students sang a version of the beloved carol “that had all references to ‘the savior’ and ‘holy infant’ removed by school administrators.” [ School Omits 'Christ' from 'Silent Night,' Upsetting Parents ] Fortunately, outraged parents secured an apology from the school district. Greenfield quotes one parent’s cogent objection: "It's offensive. If you're going to remove words to not offend other religions, what about the religion that that song belongs to, which is Christianity?"
Unfortunately, as Greenfield notes, many schools simply ban Christmas carols. Indeed, Greenfield quotes Liz Cavell of the Freedom from Religion Foundation arguing that schools should only perform secular songs since “’there doesn't seem to be a dearth of secular music out there.’ That way, Cavell claims, ‘nobody's excluded, nobody's offended, and nobody's songs need to be edited.’”
Cavell’s solution is the same one Columbus OH school administrators offered years ago, when they suggested replacing a performance of Handel’s Messiah at a specialized school of the arts with a performance of Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman. ['Messiah' is victim of policy, By Bill Bush and Dean Narciso, The Columbus Dispatch, December 20, 2002.]This approach offends not only Christians but anyone who values the traditions and culture associated with Christmas.
After all, Silent Night is not only a heartfelt expression of the meaning of Christmas, but also a beautiful piece of music—many contemporaries assumed it had to have been written by someone like Beethoven or Haydn—and its lyrics are undoubtedly the most famous poem written in German. It has been translated into more languages than any other song. The notion that children should not be allowed to sing it is absurd.
Fortunately, the parents of Kings Park rebelled against this absurdity. And as long as Americans continue to resist similar absurdities, the War against Christmas will not be lost—and may even be won.
Tom Piatak (email him) writes from Cleveland, Ohio.