Last week Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly stirred the War On Christmas pot again while adding a new racially charged component by insisting that “Santa Claus just is white” (and Jesus too). That declaration of epidermal elitism is both offensive and historically wrong. Nevertheless, Kelly doubled-down after receiving a barrage of criticism. And she was joined by her colleagues at Fox who agreed with her.
Now Fox has published an editorial that that addresses the larger question of the long-running “War on Christmas” that is largely the product of their bigoted imaginations. The author is Kelly Shackelford, the president and CEO of the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based (where else?) conservative legal foundation that opposes the separation of church and state and defends the rights of Christians to force their beliefs on others on public property and with public funds.
Shackelford’s article is nothing more than an enumeration of some recent legal disputes wherein Christians were prohibited from exploiting public assets to impose their religious beliefs on others. Shackelford accused those who defend the separation of church and state of bullying and intimidating the poor oppressed Christian majority that gets all of its religious observances declared legal holidays and whose celebrations are shoved down the throats of all Americans with non-stop proselytizing, parades, and television programming that is steeped in Christian fervor for weeks on end.
The War on Christmas that is imagined by Shackelford and his ilk is really just an attempt by Americans to keep the government from establishing the sort of state religion that the Constitution explicitly forbids. But zealots like Shackelford are determined to force everyone to bow to their God. They could be satisfied with promoting their faith on the grounds of the tens of thousands of churches they have built and on other private property where they are free to express themselves. But their fanaticism is defined by an unceasing need to coerce others into accepting religion on their terms.
It is in this regard that Fox News has inadvertently stumbled onto the real War on Christmas. It is a war that soils what Christians claim to be the spirit of the season. While they speak of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, they practice discrimination and foment hostility. They are fighting a war against their fellow citizens in an effort to punish them lest they conform to the spiritual will of the majority. And make, no mistake, their purpose is not to save souls, but to shape a political environment that adheres to their conservative principles.
This is the real War on Christmas. It is the exploitation of Christmas as a political cudgel, and it is nothing new. In 1959 the rabidly right-wing, anti-communists at the John Birch Society issued a pamphlet titled “There Goes Christmas?!” that warned:
“One of the techniques now being applied by the Reds to weaken the pillar of religion in our country is the drive to take Christ out of Christmas — to denude the event of its religious meaning.”
That’s right. Fifty years ago the War on Christmas was in full swing. Then, like now, it was attributed to leftists seeking to undermine society and weaken our moral foundation. This imaginary assault on values has been a staple argument for the right for decades. But it goes back even farther than that. In 1921 Henry Ford’s repulsively racist tract “The International Jew,” stated:
“The whole record of the Jewish opposition to Christmas, Easter and other Christian festivals, and their opposition to certain patriotic songs, shows the venom and directness of [their] attack…And it has become pretty general. Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone’s Birth…Now, all this begins with the designers of the cards.”
There you have it. It is a cabal of Jewish greeting card designers that is behind the whole War on Christmas thing. And of course the blame had to eventually be shifted to Jews who the right believe are in control of the media, the law, and all the money.
The fact that this War on Christmas meme evolved from such repugnant historical beginnings says a great deal about the hate mongers who perpetuate it today. It is exactly the same sentiment that drives this message, even if the messengers like Shackelford, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Sarah Palin (whose new book is wholly consumed by this subject), refuse to admit it. The people promoting the so-called War on Christmas are themselves waging a war on Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even other Christians who respect religious and Constitutional freedom.
If these right-wing pseudo-Christians were really concerned with preserving the spirit of Christmas, they wouldn’t allow it to be exploited and trivialized by commercial enterprises and greedy corporations. They wouldn’t shove it down people’s throats. And they wouldn’t join the ranks of anti-Semites and bigots to perpetuate a campaign of hate.
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