The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Friday, December 23, 2011

War on Christmas Annual Report

Last year, I had thought that the annual "War on Christmas" idiocy was rather muted, and figured that the popularity of this particular form of stupid alarmism was finally fading.  And then, this year, it picks up again, with the U.S. Congress even getting in on the act (funny, I thought that maybe they'd have other things to do).  And while last year I had encounters with twits, this year I see signs like this one broadcasting twitdom along a major highway:

Sign on Highway 180 in eastern Fresno County.

Now, had I seen this sign 20 years ago, it would have been in a social context where it was very clear that it was an admonishment towards Christians to not lose the religious value of the holiday to commercialism.  Even as an atheist, I can see merit in this view.  But in the days of the non-existent "War on Christmas", these signs now tend to be aimed at non-Christians and are intended to give them what-for and let them know that they are not welcome.  In other words, twenty years ago, someone who was sincere and in at least some way honorable would have such a sign up as a way of trying to elevate fellow believers, an honorable thing to do.  Now it's just bigoted assholes who do so in an attempt to hurl abuse at those who are outside of their club.

Hell, even the sorts of people who used to express concern over the commercialization of Christmas now demand the commercialization of it, provided that the money-changers in the temple pay lip service to Christianity to the exclusion of every other group on the planet.  Don't believe me?  Let me show you the mis-named American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list.  Yeah, they honestly are not only okay with the commercialization of Christmas these days, they are actively campaigning for it as a way of making non-Christians feel unwanted.

Head spinning...too much stupidity...

To make things even more bizarre, the usual Religious-Right bullshit about how "Christians are persecuted in America" has been getting amped up, with everything from the tendency of rational people to roll their eyes at Tim Tebow to the refusal of public schools to force non-Christians into Christian prayers seen as a sign of the persecution.  As in previous years, this reached it's usual December peak o' stupid this year when I began to hear, both around town and in the media, about how wishing someone "Happy Holidays" is a form of anti-Christian persecution.

The dictionary on my desk defines "Persecute" as "To Harass with Cruelty and Oppression."  So, members of the LGBT community, who often face direct violence as well as legislation aimed at stripping them of rights can fairly argue to be the most persecuted minority in the U.S.  In many locales, while legal persecution of ethnic minorities may be prohibited, it is still nonetheless a common practice (such as this church that banned an inter-racial couple*).  Religious minorities, while they usually face much milder harassment (although in some areas even this gets increased), also could argue to some minor persecution (people losing jobs, being harassed or even physically attacked, being barred from public speaking and advertising - which is, notably, in every case open to Christians).

But Christians?

Christians make up something in the neighborhood of 70%-80% of the U.S. population (depending on how you crunch the numbers).  A politician can not become elected without pandering to Christians in some way - even non-Christian politicians have to engage in some degree of pandering.  Christianity is the only religion that has one of it's holidays observed as a Federal and State holiday within the U.S.  While acts of vandalism occur against Christian churches and property, they are far, far, FAR less common than acts of vandalism against the places of worship of religious non-Christians, and the property of the same non-Christians plus atheist organizations. 

What's more, the attempts at bigoted legislation, hogging the public square, and acts of vandalism and aggression against non-Christians are pretty routinely helmed by, you guessed it, Christians.

Now, it should be said, most Christians don't do this sort of thing, most are actually good citizens, and decent people...but, and there is a but of course, they tend not to speak up when other, more radical, members of the Christian community are doing these things.  While the majority of Christians are not engaged in this sort of nonsense, by remaining quiet when the obnoxious minority are engaged in it, they give them cover, and the willingness of many otherwise decent Christians to reflexively strike out - whether through the media or the ballot box - at anyone who questions the obnoxious minority, they make themselves complicit.  At most, they will attempt to claim that the offender is "not a real Christian" as a way of denying that their own religion can give rise to the sorts of assholes that they will readily spot in other religious groups.  In short, Christians are not persecuted in the U.S.  If anything, Christians are either persecutors or are complicit through silence in the persecution of others. 

Christians who complain of persecution in the U.S. are fools or liars or both.  And regardless of which of these options best describes the one that you most recently encountered, they slander their fellow Christians in other nations who really are facing persecution.  In Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other nations, it takes great courage and conviction to declare one's self a Christian.  I may not agree with their views, but I can see something admirable in their fortitude.  In the U.S., declaring one's self a Christian is not an act of bravery, as it is the declaration that one stands with the majority.  At best, it's a statement of fact, which is honorable but not remarkable.  At worst, it's a disingenuous attempt to claim to be part of a privileged minority.

And it's privilege that this is all about.  Nobody is persecuting Christians in the U.S.  Nobody.  Nobody has the power to do it, even if they wanted to.  What is happening is that Christians are being told that there are other people living here, and that they have as much a right to speak and be heard as anyone else.  And, it should be said, most Christians accept this with grace and with ease.  However, a very vocal group can not see the difference between not being allowed to persecute and being persecuted themselves.  They can not see that they have the same rights as everyone else, and are not entitled to special rights that the non-Christians don't have.  And, unfortunately, the Christians who get it, who are generally decent and honest and aware, seem to be unwilling to call them on their bullshit.

And the yearly "war on Christmas" bullshit is symptomatic of this.  There are many holidays during this time of year.  There are people who celebrate no holidays this time of year.  The fact that the Federal and State governments essentially shut down on December 25 means that even those who don't celebrate Christmas are forced to observe it in some way - even if the observance is trying to figure out how to get work done without the necessary agencies involved.  So, if you support Christmas being a Federal and State holiday, but are upset that non-Christians are doing something to make it their own - the sentiment expressed in the phrase "Happy Holidays" - then you are an empty-headed hypocrite.  I have no respect for you, nor will any person with more than two brain cells to rub together.

You are not being persecuted, maltreated, or harmed in any way.  Grow up, and get over it.

*The church later rescinded the ban, but the fact that it occurred in the first place shows the depth of racism and willingness to engage in real persecution that exists in that particular church community.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

sigh... not gonna happen, poor, persecuted Christians who can't have it all their own way!