In his Talking Points Memo this week, Bill O’Reilly endeavored to describe a matter that must be very dear and personal for him: Why Christmas Matters.
So with an earnestness that befit the occasion, he began by talking about his TV ratings and why his viewers, who are insufficiently alarmed by the War on Christmas, are wrong:
“While our ratings have been very high this month, some viewers have written to me complaining we’re over-covering the Christmas controversies. They say the subject really isn’t that important. Well, they’re wrong.”
Apparently O’Reilly has gotten over his suspicion that the Nielsen ratings were conspiring against him. Last October he unleashed a paranoid rant directed at Nielsen that included an absurd threat:
“The bottom line on this is there may be some big-time cheating going on in the ratings system, and we hope the feds will investigate.”
Of course, the Feds have nothing to do with private market research firms, so let’s get back to the importance of Christmas. O’Reilly proceeds to explain how Christmas was made officially into a holiday in 1870 as a measure to unite a nation that had been bitterly torn by civil war. Surprisingly, he actually got the basics facts about this right. However, he thoroughly mangled the interpretation saying…
“…President Grant realized that Christmas was one of the few things that Americans had in common, that just about everybody back then respected the holidays.”
Actually, there were significant differences at the time, with some Christian denominations discounting the December feast as a remnant of Paganism. But more to the point, Grant was not seeking to sanctify a date that everyone respected. He was merely trying to find one that a majority would tolerate. He previously rejected Easter as being too overtly religious, and the Fourth of July for having too close an association with a Yankee victory. So the Christmas holiday was not a commemoration of a shared faith in God – it was a calculated, political compromise.
That doesn’t stop O’Reilly and his ilk from glorifying the occasion and disparaging those who truly seek unity and inclusiveness. He says that the “extremely vicious” secular progressives are out to diminish religion. On the other hand, O’Reilly considers himself a stalwart defender of faith. As evidence he offers up a sales pitch for his book “Culture Warrior,” and claims to be prevailing over what sounds like a nocturnal, Zombie army:
“…we are up against some very bad people. Thanks to you, we destroy them every night.”
Despite destroying them every night he also claims that they “have made huge gains.” An interesting and absurd contradiction. What then is O’Reilly fighting for? He has previously hailed Christmas as a celebration of holy consumerism:
“Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable.”
Now that’s a sentiment that just oozes with the season’s warmth, joy, and humanity. But what more can you expect from a man that considers himself proof of the existence of God:
“Next time you meet an atheist, tell him or her that you know [me]. Then, while the non-believer is digesting all that, ask him or her if they still don’t believe there’s a God!”
And just a couple of days ago, O’Reilly was promoting his new book, “A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity,” on the Christian Broadcasting Network, where he was asked if he considers himself “someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus?”
“I don’t look at it that way. My whole theology is based upon what I believe I’m here to do on earth. I believe I was given talent. I don’t believe it just happened because a meteorite crashed into the world and all of this is just luck. I believe I’m here for a reason, that I was blessed with talent.”
So O’Reilly’s whole theology is based on himself and his alleged talent. And that’s the Culture Warrior who is promising to save Christmas and the rightful place of religion in American society. That’s the self-centered, ego-maniacal demagogue who is intent on convincing us that…
“There’s a struggle going on to redefine America. And in 2009, that struggle will become even more intense.”
Yes, that’s the expression of Yuletide spirit that unites all people. O’Reilly, in this rant, has revealed himself for what he is – a narcissistic, self-promoter who thrives on division and an imagined sense of superiority. He is an opportunistic provocateur who cannot exist without conflict. He must nourish hostility to survive.
And that’s Why Christmas Matters to Bill O’Reilly.