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War on Christmas

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The Christmas wars just won’t stop, even though Christmas is right upon us, at least for a year and maybe forever, if the anti-Christmas warriors have their way.

While the warriors have been waging their crusade to make everyone from school kids to presidents say “the holidays” instead of “Christmas,” their allies in the media have been pretending the whole war is just a conservative fantasy.

Thus, liberal columnist E.J. Dionne can’t quite grasp why Christians get so upset about people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

“Politicians who speak of ‘the holidays’ instead of ‘Christmas’ now face angry Christian protests,” he asserts.

Well, not really. Most Christians and conservatives simply snicker at that kind of emptiness. What they get upset about is being forbidden to say “Merry Christmas” themselves or call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree, as actually and repeatedly happens. [Peace on Earth?By E. J. Dionne Jr., December 21, 2004]

The reason they get upset is only in part religious and has nothing to do with intolerance, bigotry, fanaticism, or the other dark passions that secular liberals imagine are what invariably explain any expression of religious belief.

The reason they get upset is that the expression of religious belief and the practice of secular customs derived from religion are being banned.

The name for that is not bigotry but tyranny. And the people who defend it are called liberals.

Mr. Dionne seems to take a moderate position on tyranny. He acknowledges, “There is something defective about a religious tolerance open to every expression of religion except for the faith of those who believe most passionately,” but then again, being a good liberal, you’ve got to think of the other side too, which is:

“What in the world is ‘Christian’ about insisting on saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to a devout Jew or Hindu who might reasonably view the statement as a sign of disrespect? At the level of government: Is it really ‘Christian‘ for a religious majority to press its advantage over religious minorities, including nonbelievers?”

The answers, of course, are no and no, and you don’t have to be a liberal to give them.

I don’t think I know a single Christian who would “insist” on saying “Merry Christmas” to a devout non-Christian (or even a non-devout non-Christian), and that’s not at all what the Christmas controversy is about anyway.

Nor can I imagine too many devout Jews and Hinduswho would regard someone wishing them a Merry Christmas “as a sign of disrespect.”

If Mr. Dionne knows such people, I hope he doesn’t introduce them to me.

Now, “Is it really ‘Christian’ for a religious majority to press its advantage over religious minorities, including nonbelievers?” I would think not, but again that’s not what the controversy is about.

The controversy is about whether Christians can celebrate or even observe in public their own religious holidays in a country (or even local community) that is overwhelmingly Christian and has been so throughout its history.

The larger question is that if non-Christian “religious minorities” are offended by the majority religion of the nation, why did they come here at all?

Why do such minorities invite themselves into a society in which they feel alien and then insist the majority abandon its religious beliefs and national identity so the minority can feel at home?

Mr. Dionne winds up quoting Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:“the chief source of man’s inhumanity to man seems to be the tribal limits of his sense of obligation to other men.”

He adds, “I fear that in these Christmas debates, Christians are behaving not as Christians but as a tribe: ‘We will pound them if they get in the way of our customs and rituals.’”

But I have seen no evidence (and Mr. Dionne offers none) that any Christian has “pounded” anyone.

It’s the Christians who are being pounded for saying “Merry Christmas” or “Christmas tree,” and those doing the pounding are the non-Christians, or their buddies the liberals.

As for “tribal behavior,” Mr. Dionne, like liberals in general, imagines there is this creature called “man” (or nowadays “humankind”) that can somehow be separated from tribe—nation, religion, community, ethnicity, gender, history, culture.

“During my life,” wrote the great French conservative Joseph de Maistre, “I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, and so on …but I must say, as for man, I have never come across him anywhere; if he exists, he is completely unknown to me.” [Considerations on France, 1797]

De Maistre’s point was that “tribal behavior” is what makes human beings human.

Take it away from “man” or “humankind” and what you get is not “pure man” or “liberated man” but dehumanization, and from that, tyranny.

That’s exactly where the War Against Christmas (and similar wars against other expressions of “tribalism”) is heading.

When it gets there, I’ll bet even liberals, including Mr. Dionne, won’t like it much.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: War on Christmas 
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A tip of the hat to Charles Krauthammer, Jewish neoconservative (not necessarily a redundancy, despite what many neocons claim) who last week lobbed a much-merited smack at the face of the anti-Christmas lobby.

“The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless,” he writes, and he’s perfectly correct. [Goodbye Christmas? Charles Krauthammer,, December 17, 2004]

Well, actually, he’s not perfectly correct. Despite his defense of the most important traditional (and official) American and Christian holiday, it’s not quite clear from Mr. Krauthammer’s column exactly why we should keep Christmas at all.

The reason it’s not entirely clear: Mr. Krauthammer is a neoconservative, and this is what’s wrong with those people.

The reason the war on Christmas is absurd, in his view, is that “The United States today is the most tolerant and diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced countries in Europe, are unique.”

What’s absurd is to claim that the observation of Christmas, as most Americans do observe it, is in some way evidence of intolerance or discrimination.

Mr. Krauthammer, as a Jew, allows as to how he actually enjoys Christmas, not for any religious reasons but because it’s an inherently enjoyable and pleasant holiday. He also offers some snippy and well-placed cracks about the sudden elevation of Hanukah, “easily the least important of Judaism’s seven holidays,as a kind of replacement for Christmas.

For the anti-Christmas warriors, it’s OK to observe the religious holiday of one faith or several other faiths, but not the major one of the Christian faith.

That’s why it’s accurate to say that the war on Christmas is not just a misguided crusade of secularist liberalism; it’s pretty much a concerted attack on America’s Christian identity.

But that’s the point Mr. Krauthammer, as a neoconservative, doesn’t quite seem to get. His objection to the war on Christmas is that Christmas is essentially harmless. He has two other objections also.

One is that the anti-Christmas crusade is “ungenerous” and the other that it’s “a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, the United States does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.”

His first reason is fine, but in his second, we begin to approach the issue of what’s wrong with neoconservatism.

What’s wrong with neoconservatism is that it is a form of liberalism, and as such it is incapable of saying flatly and clearly that while Americans certainly enjoy a right to practice whatever religions they wish, Christianity remains the public religion of the nation—whether one believes in it or likes it or not.

Liberals (and neocons) can’t say that because they don’t believe in public religions and (especially) that America should have one.

A “public religion” of course is not an officially established church, as the Church of England is still. Nor is it the religion to which the majority of citizens adhere, any more than a high school glee club founded fifty years ago is young because all its members are under 18. What is true of individual members is not necessarily true of the group.

A public religion is the religion with which a country publicly identifies, and we know it identifies with it because we know it has become vital to its identity as a nation.

It is precisely because Christianity is vital to our national identity that there is a war against it, and that’s the reason also there is now a nationwide resistance to that war by Americans who wish to conserve our national identity.

Thus, the major national holiday is and always has been the major Christian holiday, and throughout American history presidents and public leaders of all parties and persuasions have acknowledged the Christian identity of the country, without any supposition of controversy.

Only recently has an American president (namely, President Bush) gone around babbling “Happy Holidays,” as he did in a press conference in Italy with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last week, and even “Happy Hanukah.”

That’s because Mr. Bush is a neoconservative too, and the refusal or inability of neoconservatism to affirm that America does not just “celebrate and welcome and honor” “minority religions” but is publicly and historically identified with a particular religion central to its institutions and values, its culture and identity, has begun to catch up with him.

The more it does, and the more public leaders absorb neoconservatism, the less effective their war against the war on Christmas and the larger war on America will be.

And that’s why, as sensible as Mr. Krauthammer’s column in many respects is, we need more than neoconservatism to conserve our nation.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: War on Christmas 
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December is not even half over, and already the war on Christmas has started. Out in the Red State of Colorado, where traditional culture supposedly thrives, the city of Denver has waded into a little cultural gunplay that is attracting national attention.

But Denver is not the only battlefield. Increasingly it looks like Christmas may be pitched in the same trashcan as the Confederate Flag.

In Denver, local merchants have for years sponsored a pallid festival called the “Parade of Lights,” which sported Santa Claus but no Christian images. The “mood,” as the New York Times described it last week, “was bouncy, commercial and determinedly secular.” The Parade “shunned politics and anything remotely smacking of controversy, including openly religious Christmas themes that might offend.” (Well, not entirely.) [A Question of Faith for a Holiday Parade, By Kirk Johnson, December 6, 2004]

It’s interesting there’s someone in Denver who thinks that “openly religious themes” in a Christmas event “might offend.”

It’s even more interesting to consider that someone in Denver actually would be offended by such themes.

But perhaps most interesting of all is that nowhere in the entire New York Times story, despite several references to “the controversy,”is a single person or group identified who actually admits to being offended by religious imagery.

The people who were offended were local Christian groups fed up with the absolute refusal of local businessmen to mention religion at all. This year the Faith Bible Chapel sought permission to run a float in the Parade of Lights that carried explicit religious themes with a choir singing hymns and carols.

Permission denied. Too controversial, you see. Can you imagine what would happen if somebody in a Christmas parade actually started singing “Silent Night”? The horror, the horror.

Michael Krikorian, [Send him mail] a spokesman for the Downtown Denver Partnership, which sponsors the parade, says they don’t allow “direct religious themes,” and that includes “Merry Christmas”signs and singing or playing traditional Christmas hymns.

“We want to avoid that specific religious message out of respect for other religions in the region,” Mr. Krikorian smirks. “It could be construed as disrespectful to other people who enjoy a parade each year.”

But the horror of being misconstrued apparently extends only to Christian themes. The Parade of Lights, as the Rocky Mountain Newsreported, “includes the Two Spirit Society, which honors gay and lesbian American Indians as holy people; a German folk dance group; and performers of the Lion Dance, a Chinese New Year tradition ‘meant to chase away evil spirits and welcome good luck and good fortune for the year.’” [Parade prohibition puzzles preacher, By Jean Torkelson, Rocky Mountain News, December 1, 2004]

Sounds sort of like a “specific religious message,” no?

Nevertheless, denied permission to chase away the evil spirits of their choice, “hundreds” of Denver area Christians showed up on the sidewalks anyway and sang “carols about mangers, shepherds and holy nights, handed out hot chocolate and spoke of their faith.”

There you go. The witchcraft trials can be expected to start any day now.

In fact, nothing much happened, except the businessspersons now say they are going to have to “re-evaluate” the event.

“This was always just supposed to be a cutesy parade, for the kids,” says Jim Basey, president of the Downtown Denver Partnership.“The purpose was to get bodies downtown.” No offensiveness for Mr. Basey.

Denver is not the only city to enjoy a little Christmas cultural warfare. The Washington Times reports that the mayor of Somerville, Mass. [Send him mail] as issued a public apology for “mistakenly” calling the local “holiday party” a “Christmas party,” while “School districts in Florida and New Jersey have banned Christmas carols altogether, and an ‘all-inclusive’ holiday song program at a Chicago-area elementary school included Jewish and Jamaican songs, but no Christmas carols.”

In Kirkland, Washington, a school banned a play of “A Christmas Carol” because of Tiny Tim’s prayer, and neighboring libraries banned Christmas trees.

The website sponsors an annual scrutiny of the “War Against Christmas.” It has lots more examples.

Christmas, to be fair, is not an exclusively religious holiday, though Christians are entirely right to insist on preserving that meaning among others. It’s a celebration that has been around so long it has acquired non-religious meanings as well, but meanings that go well beyond Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.

It’s a festival that comes from the heart of the traditional West, which is why music, literature, films and common social customs center around it so much.

At least some of the people who want to abolish it are not intentionally anti-Western. They’re people who have simply disengaged themselves from their own civilization and are entirely indifferent as to whether it survives or not.

Being strangers in their own land, they no longer have a clue as to what Christmas and its symbols mean.

And it’s not only Christmas that’s “just supposed to be a cutesy parade.” It’s everything else their civilization has created.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: War on Christmas 
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Thanksgiving is over, but the country is probably lucky it took place at all. Various reports disclose that the war against Thanksgiving is almost as ferocious as those against such other evil institutions as Christmas and the Confederate Flag.

A story in the Washington Times last week discussed the war and who’s behind it. As you might expect, it’s pretty much the same people who want virtually every other white, Christian and national holiday abolished or, even better, subverted to suit their own political purposes.

Two years ago the Board of Selectmen of Plymouth, Mass., where the Pilgrims landed in 1620, put up a plaque denouncing them for coming at all.

“Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers,” smirk the officials. “To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture.”

That doesn’t stop the officials from continuing to live on the land their ancestors stole, which today is worth a good deal more than when the Pilgrims swiped it. [Pilgrims' progress? November 25, 2003, by Robert Stacy MCCain]

The Selectmen are not the only warriors in the jihad against Thanksgiving. The Times also notes that in 1996, an instructional guide published by the U.S. Department of Education warned school teachers, “At Thanksgiving, shift the focus away from re-enacting the first Thanksgiving.”

The guide, written by a teacher who’s a Pueblo Indian, might be suspected of containing hidden racial agendas, if it were permitted to suspect anyone but white people of such wickedness:

“The conception of Native Americans [she meant Indians, not citizens born in the United States] gained from such early exposure is both inaccurate and potentially damaging to others.”

Just to confirm her point, this year a school principal in Skokie, Ill.,banned cardboard Indian headdresses in the school’s Thanksgiving pageant because it might offend Indians.

Yet another Native American (I mean Indian) named Moonanum James, who led a protest against Thanksgiving in Plymouth back in the dark ages when there was no plaque denouncing the white settlers, has even more damaging lessons to impart: “The Pilgrims did not come here seeking religious freedom. They already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture.”

There are two problems with that thought: (a) it’s not entirely true, and (b) so what if it were true?

The real problem with the Pilgrims’ commercial venture, says Mr. James, was that it

“introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails and the class system to these shores. About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in ‘New England’ were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people.”

The Wampanoags, as you may have guessed, were also Native Americans (even though there was no America at the time).

“What native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands and never-ending repression.”

There are those lands again.

It would be pointless to refute all this kind of stuff, since those who believe it or worry about it probably aren’t terribly open to persuasion (nor are those who don’t believe it or worry about it).

The point of the war against Thanksgiving is not to teach history but to destroy the national myth—and therefore the nation itself—that the holiday and its traditional representation help symbolize.

Some years ago, when the war against the Confederate flag and similar Southern symbols cranked up, a good many Americans thought it made sense to denounce them because of the blatant “racism”they represented.

What they didn’t get was that they and their own local myths and symbols were next on the hit list.

Now what is happening ought to be obvious, even to them.

What is being fought in the jihad against the Confederate Flag, Thanksgiving, Columbus Day and Christmas is not the “sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry” and other pastimes of Western man but the West itself and its local manifestation in American civilization.

The isms being denounced are icing on the cake. The real target is the cake itself, and those taking aim at it know the only way they can get to it is by scraping off the symbols and icons that represent it in the minds of most Americans.

Americans who still care what the real meanings of their holidays, as opposed to the three-day orgies of stuffing, guzzling and spending the national ruling class wants them to mean, need to know that the war against holidays is a war against their country and against them.

If they don’t hang together in defending each other’s myths and icons, sooner or later their enemies will hang all of them separately.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Multiculturalism, War on Christmas 
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Before you O.D. on Christmas cheer this season, you might want to check out an article by writer Tom Piatak in the December issue of Chronicles, the magazine of the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Ill., as well as a few other sources of useful information. According to Mr. Piatak, the nation is at war—not just with terrorists in Tora Bora but with Christmas itself. And his argument is compelling.

You may have noticed the same trends Mr. Piatak has. In shopping malls, public streets and even private stores, Christmas and any mention thereof is vanishing. There are still bells ringing, Santa Clauses chuckling, and store clerks pushing the usual junk on none-too-reluctant customers. But what’s going on is not called Christmas anymore.

“In order to avoid giving offense to anyone anywhere,” Mr. Piatak writes, “millions of Americans are now seemingly content to keep quiet about the holiday they do celebrate and to act as if all sorts of other minor festivals—Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Diwali, Ramadan, the winter solstice—are equally important.” Mr. Piatak’s charge is not the stale “Keep Christ in Christmas” sermon we hear from pulpits every year. What is going on is not so much the disappearance of the religious faith that created Christmas as the shrinkage of the civilization that sustained the holiday.

Mr. Piatak offers example after example of school children being either discouraged from engaging in observances of Christmas by their teachers or outright forbidden to do so. “My sister’s children until very recently attended a public elementary school in an affluent Detroit suburb…. teachers are forbidden to mention Christmas. Instead, they teach about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. So thorough was the indoctrination that my nephew asked two years ago why we did not celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.”

Mr. Piatak isn’t the only one to document the war against Christmas. The Washington Times recently carried a story that offered more details. A teacher in Plymouth, Ill. was warned not to read her class a book about Christmas, even though the book was in the school’s library. The school board in Covington, Ga., dropped reference to “Christmas” from the school calendar after the ACLU complained about it. Two students in Rochester, Minn. were disciplined for wearing red and green scarves in a Christmas skit and saying “We hope you all have a merry Christmas.” The details could go on.

What is happening is not that Americans are ceasing to care about or observe Christmas. What is happening has no popular foundation at all; it’s rather a concerted campaign by the nation’s elites to obliterate observance of Christmas per se. There’s no objection to observing a major holiday at this time of the year, and there’s really no objection to other holidays from other cultures that fall around this time of year. The objection is to Christmas itself.

What is happening is the same culture war that attacked the Confederate flag and other symbols of traditional identities, and it bears out those who warned that the attack on the Confederate flag was only the beginning. As the enemies of one civilization gain power—in school boards, city councils, law courts—they make war against it and seek to replace it with—what?

Their own civilization? Well, sometimes. Some non-Western peoples in the West want their cultural symbols to replace ours. But in most cases of the war against Christmas, those waging the war don’t have any civilization at all. What they have is the globalist-humanist peanut butter of the New World Order, where no one has any nation, religion, race, or heritage and we all vegetate together as “Humankind.”

Mr. Piatak to his immense credit sees through this fraudulence easily enough. “Giotto never painted a Kwanza scene. Bach did not write a Hanukkah Oratorio, and Dickens did not pen A Ramadan Carol.” Real civilization isn’t about and doesn’t revolve around the oleomargarine versions of Christmas, and the fake “civilization” that the multiculturalists and multiracialists babble about and try to force everyone else to observe never created anything. No one ever fought for it or died for it or even planned their schedule around it, so almost by definition it can’t possibly produce anything like a real holiday. Nobody, except the thin-blooded munchkins who concocted it, cares a hoot about it.

“Ultimately,” writes Mr. Piatak, “we should be free to celebrate Christmas publicly and joyously, because it is a great holiday, and because it is our holiday—one of the //crowning glories of the Western culture that gave birth to America and sustains us still.” If, of course, you are not part of the “we” to which “our” refers, then maybe you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. But then maybe you shouldn’t be in America—or anywhere else west of Tora Bora.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: War on Christmas 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”