Holiday Wars

Copyright © by Len Holman, 12/23/13


  It’s that time of the year:  jingle bells, fir trees, presents, mad crowds scrambling to get a few cheap TVs, including fistfights and the occasional shooting or stabbing, food kitchens where celebs go once a year to feed the needy while showing their bleached teeth for the cameras, movies about Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Santa’s elves, reindeer and, oh yes, whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”  From the accounts of conservative Christians and their fellow worriers, Christmas is under attack by the Godless, uncaring, self-righteous Left, and the various flavors of humanists who want to see all public displays of this particular holiday stricken from view. 

  The patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” reality show family, Phil Robertson, is under attack for his comments in GQ magazine on the sins of the world, which includes homosexuality, so everyone, including Sarah (“I gotta get back in the spotlight”) Palin, is chiming in on the evils done to the Christian faith and this bearded old man who was only answering a question about his faith.  A commentator on Fox, Bill (“I’m gonna play calm and reasonable and use my indoor voice”) O’Reilly called Christmas a “national holiday.”  This implies that any evil attempt to curtail displays of the Nativity in public buildings is tantamount to unpatriotic behavior.  Now, the fact that a conservative Christian finds homosex a sin is not a shock.  The fact that conservative Christians find it a sin is not a shock. It is also not much of a shock that A&E (the network which airs the hugely popular “Duck Dynasty” show) has suspended the old man.  They must have immediately decided that their ad revenue was at risk and jumped into this mess with both waders.  A little premature, I think. 

  “Free Speech” is a founding principle of this nation and when someone asks about your faith and about behaviors which violate the tenets of that belief, how is this grounds for landing on the guy like Thor’s hammer coming down on some world-destroying villain?  Fourteen million people tuned in last week to watch the clan jabber and clown around, so A&E has a problem: revenue versus a vocal and powerful segment of public opinion.  Why does one man’s opinion, known to anyone with a connection to this reality, make such a fuss?  His comments were mistakenly construed (mistakenly?  Hmm…) as to equate homosexuality with bestiality, when all he was doing was listing some of the sins which will keep a person from entering the Kingdom of God.  Is this a surprise? 

  Should the man have kept his opinions to himself? Should he have cleared the interview with the execs at A&E?  If he had, wouldn’t that violate the prior censorship issue the Supreme Court so especially dislikes?  It is also not shocking that every news show I watched had some discussion of this Duck Disaster and the attendant ruckus about the “war on Christmas,” which is frequently equated with “the war on Christianity”—which shoots the “national holiday” thesis in the head.  The tone of the GQ article was breezy, smugly smirky, and sounded like the writer was talking out of the side of his mouth to an agreeing cohort at the bar about the weird old guy who is their boss. 

  Ol’ Phil comes off as pretty innocent of the ways of the entertainment world, pretty straightforward in his beliefs, pretty unselfconscious about who he is.  He is NOT sophisticated in the ways of the political or social-commentary cosmos, nor does he seem to edit everything in his mind to see how it will play before saying it.  In short, he is not ready for the Prime Time of the American commentary/opinion/point-scoring zoo which is our public life.  I do not really care what a person says to me in a holiday greeting.  “Hello” would be ok with me.  Chanukah is December 17-24, and I guess a Jew would be making war on Christmas if he or she said “Happy Chanukah” to someone. It might be better for this person to wait until Christmas Day, then rush out into the street with a bullhorn to shout “Merry Christmas” to all the passing traffic, and be saved.  How about that “Happy Holidays” thing? 

  By logic, Christmas is a holiday (for most), so greeting someone with “Happy Holiday” includes Christmas...but wait!  “Holiday” doesn’t contain the word “Christ” and is therefore useless for making a point. And making a point is what it appears to be all about.  I have seen snippets of Duck Dynasty, which is not my particularly favorite form of entertainment, but from what I did see, there was nothing objectionable.  The family says prayers at the supper table, and Phil pounds his Bible like a drum, but so what?  If I were a Zoroastrian or a Hindu or a Daoist, I STILL wouldn’t be offended.  Words can be offensive, but using the wrong words?  Using no words?  If Christmas means a spiritual renewal and affirmation to someone, fine with me.  If it means shopping and acting like a wolf tearing into a lamb chop at the XBox center, I might sigh, but that’s for THEM to work out.  Of course (just ask any Buddhist) there doesn’t have to be one special day to reflect, meditate on one’s life, and vow to be more righteous.  To say that there IS only one day is foolish, at least, and dangerous at most.  Phil, I don’t watch your show, but if you wanna believe and say you do, then be my guest.  We have free speech here, don’t we?


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