It's that time of year when Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, and all of their cohorts in Right-Wingnutville get their knickers in a twist over what they call "the war on Christmas." For the rest of us, surrounded as we are by symbols of Christmas everywhere we go and perfect strangers wishing us a merry Christmas, this "war" looks a lot like peace, but you'll never convince those who peddle the war stories.
It turns out, though, that the war stories they constantly peddle on Fox News and in books like Palin's book, Good Tidings and Great Joy, are mostly pure bunk.
We had an example of that bunk in Texas just this week when State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) held a press conference to crow about the bill he had introduced that had just become law. His law ensures that everyone in Texas has the right to say "Merry Christmas." Yes, the Texas legislature this year, with all the serious and real problems that this state has, took time to pass a law that we can all say "Merry Christmas" to each other. Not that anyone had been prevented from doing that before and even Bohac could not give any examples of this having occurred, but just in case, thanks to our noble legislators, our rights to give each other greetings of the season are now protected by law!
The idea that people are somehow prevented from saying "Merry Christmas" is just one of the myths that the purveyors of the idea of a war on Christmas promulgate in their annual fight to annihilate the warriors against Christmas. Some of the other myths were outlined in article in Salon.com today. They include:
"Public schools have banned the colors red and green." According to Salon, this one has been floating around the right-wing bubble for years and has now attained the status of "Religious Right urban legend." Of course, no one can offer any real evidence that this has happened - for the very good reason that it hasn't. But still, every year the old canard gets trotted out once again and gullible people believe it.
"Public schools can't recognize Christmas anymore." Of course they can, but public schools serve kids from many religious backgrounds and they must strive for balance and inclusion of all those traditions. To translate that need for inclusiveness into an idea that the schools can't recognize Christmas is just ridiculous.
"You can't use the term "Christmas tree" anymore or even display them in public." If this is true, why do I run into Christmas trees everywhere I go in public at this season? This particular myth, of course, does not recognize that the so-called "Christmas" tree is, in fact, of pagan origin, a tradition that was co-opted by Christians. (For that matter, the holiday itself is of pagan origin and was adopted by Christians as the date that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated, even though evidence indicates that the birth probably occurred in summer.)
"Cities and towns can't decorate for Christmas because someone will be offended." Same question again - if this is true, why do I see municipal seasonal decorations everywhere I go in December every year? But, again, as with public schools, these municipalities are home to people of many religious traditions and unless the governments of these places are completely tone deaf and indifferent to the sensibilities of their citizens, they will make an effort to include seasonal decorations of other groups besides Christians.
"Clerks in stores have been ordered to say 'Happy Holidays,' and store flyers and catalogs no longer mention the word 'Christmas.'" Again, stores that attempt to be inclusive of all their clientele may indeed instruct clerks to say "Happy Holidays." After all, how do they know whether you are Christian or if you celebrate Christmas or not? Are they supposed to ask first? "Happy Holidays" actually seems to me to be a very sensible way for such a business to greet their customers, but, of course, it is highly offensive to the rabid religious right which recognizes no holiday and no religious traditions except their own.
This is all such nonsense. Christmas is in no danger of being vanquished and obliterated from our calendars or our sensibilities. But Bill O'Reilly has to have something to rail against to keep those ratings up. At least while he's ranting about this, he can't be spreading more disinformation about the Affordable Care Act.