Tuesday, December 20, 2005

No, Virginia, There Is No War on Christmas

The silly "war on Christmas" nonsense deserves to be thoroughly ignored, except for the revealing history of this canard which Hendrik Hertzberg supplies in this week's New Yorker Magazine.
The War on Christmas is a little like Santa Claus, in that it (a) comes to us from the sky, beamed down by the satellites of cable news, and (b) does not, in the boringly empirical sense, exist. What does exist is the idea of the War on Christmas, which, though forever new, is a venerable tradition, older even than strip malls and plastic mistletoe.
The "idea of the War on Christmas," he also reminds us, has very ugly roots:
The War on Christmas seems to have come along around a hundred years later, with the publication of “The International Jew,” by Henry Ford, the automobile magnate, whom fate later punished by arranging to have his fortune diverted to the sappy, do-gooder Ford Foundation.

"It is not religious tolerance in the midst of religious difference, but religious attack that they" -- the Jews -- "preach and practice," he wrote. "The whole record of the Jewish opposition to Christmas, Easter and certain patriotic songs shows that."

Ford’s anti-Semitism has not aged well, thanks to the later excesses of its European adherents, but by drawing a connection between Christmas-bashing and patriotism-scorning he pointed the way for future Christmas warriors.
Hendrick has more insights, including why Fox News' chickhawk in chief, Bill O'Reilley (who "sat out Vietnam"), is busy "in the trenches... grouping together a variety of enemies, where they can all be rhetorically machine-gunned at once."

Which reminds us: Has anyone warned Santa Claus that he can be legally shot in Florida even before he comes down the chimney?

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