Simply Having a War on Christmastime
As I’ve discussed endlessly in this space, one of my favorite things about the right-wing persecution complex that’s been so carefully cultivated by conservative politicians over the last 50 years or so is hearing people complain about things that are not only not actually happening, but are the opposite of happening. We hear, for example, that London is a ‘no-go zone’ because of the vast influx of Muslims, when in fact its Islamic population, at under 12%, is less than half the black population of New York; or that America, unquestionably the most fanatically religious country in the Western world, is intolerably hostile to Christianity. Crime, actually in the midst of a decades-long downturn, is said to be at an all-time high, and it is claimed that law enforcement officers are being murdered at a record pace when in fact they are actually murdering civilians at a record pace.
But by far the most fun of these patented conservative reality reversals is the War On Christmas, which, unlike that tree you buy from a sketchy Michigan teen smoking unfiltered cigarettes in an abandoned gas station parking lot, is evergreen. There is no surer bet in Vegas than that every year, right after Thanksgiving, some pandering G.O.P. turd will break out the news that America has become so politically correct that you can’t even say “Merry Christmas” anymore. Even our newly anointed flab-swatch of a president, certainly no stranger to force-feeding the country’s lowest common denominator, is getting in on the act, bravely declaring last week that the occupant of the Oval Office is going to start saying “Merry Christmas” again. This is presumably in contrast to exiting Muslim deep agent Barack Hussein Obama, who, despite the existence of yards of video footage of him saying those exact words, we are to believe spent the last eight years in office angrily muttering “Allahu Akbar” under his breath every December 25th.
It is hard to reckon how anyone developed this notion that Christmas has become verboten by the social justice Schutzstaffel. Christmas is still, according to some research I just made up from Forbes and the Financial Times, a fourteen-quadzillion-dollar business, with even cranky atheist bums like myself spending absurd amounts of money on gifts for their various loved ones, casual acquaintances, and mail carriers. It is literally impossible to go to any urban or suburban center without seeing countless displays of Christmas cheer. My home town of Chicago, one of the most diverse and religiously heterogeneous cities in America, sponsors a seasonal marketplace on government property that is named after the infant Jesus. The constant presence of Christmas music beginning around Labor Day is so well-established that it’s become a trope of hacky observational comedians; every pop star in the country has put out a cash-in Christmas album full of corny classics, and a song with the word “Christmas” in it remains the best-selling single in the history of the planet. We have so relentlessly marketed Christmas to other parts of the world that it has become an important holiday in places like Japan, where they have never even heard of Christ and instead worship a pair of soiled schoolgirl panties purchased from a vending machine. Christmas, far from being endangered, is absolutely inescapable.
And that’s fine! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I haven’t believed in God since I was ten years old and learned the meaning of the word ‘paradox’, and I wouldn’t trade Christmastime for a million dollars. I love all kinds of hokey shit about Christmas: mall Santas, goofy carols, overpriced limited-edition beers, cheeseball sitcom episodes where someone learns a valuable lesson about family, drinking hot chocolate while watching the snow fall, peace, love, joy to the world: all that crap. If there was a socialist revolution tomorrow (which, by the way, is my #1 Christmas wish every year, despite the weird faces I get from the bourgeoise mall Santa and his false-consciousness-havin’ elves), I would gladly volunteer to be the Commissar of Christmas, and rejigger the holiday to be about collective mobilization of state resources to make sure cute kids get to smile and have dumb bullshit toys. (Even the Soviets recognized the value of Christmas culture, although they did turn Santa into a crazed wizard in a blue robe and made him the sidekick to a spacefaring waif named Cosmonaut Boy.) I am a total mark for Christmas and I always will be.
The difference is that I don’t care if other people celebrate Christmas differently than I do, or don’t celebrate it at all, and I don’t think it’s the job of the government to structure our national jubilance. What’s really offensive to people isn’t that there’s a War on Christmas — hell, Christ himself would probably pop a clot if he saw how completely we flip our shit for his birthday anymore. What’s offensive is that we’ve decided to be just a tiny bit sensitive to the fact that other people, as American as they are, have other ways of enjoying the holiday season, and have had the unmitigated temerity to ask to be treated with respect as they do so. It’s essentially the same motivation that stems from white supremacy: it’s not that straight white guys are no longer in charge of anything. They’re still a pestilence in the highest echelons of every industry, party, organization, and institution you care to name. It’s just that they are no longer universally in charge of everything, and to these thin-skinned whiners, it’s all or nothing. Adam Smith’s vile maxim is still in effect for the entitled holiday honkies: everything for us, and nothing for anyone else.
Well, fuck that noise. I was raised by a couple of devout Southern Baptists, and while most of their moral lessons didn’t stick past the age where I could buy alcohol, they did teach me that Christmas is about caring for other people. Seems to me, especially in these days when the government has taken on the role of Scrooge, abandoning their responsibility to the poor and driving them instead to prisons and workhouses, that the best way to celebrate Christmas is to help those in need, and respect those who practice different faiths and traditions. If you want to make war on Christmas, there’s no better way than to practice the kind of intolerance, contempt, and exclusion that Christ himself would have despised.