Column: What war on Christmas

By Craig Colbrook

Last Friday, I braved the post-Thanksgiving crowds and headed into my local Barnes and Noble. I was just ambling through the store when I came across John Gibson’s “The War On Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought.” Now, I’m pretty liberal, but I’d never heard of such a plot. And I have my own newspaper column, so you’d think they’d send me a memo or something.

There is, of course, no “War on Christmas.” If we liberals were that organized, we’d probably be able to win a Presidential election every once in a while. It does makes for good politics, though. The Bill O’Reillys and Sean Hannitys of the world bring it up specifically to froth at the mouth about it. They cite some town that had to remove a nativity scene from its city hall or some store that decides to put “Happy Holidays!” on its banners instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Then they explain that this is just the first step in the grand liberal plan. First, they get rid of Christmas, or at least get the religion out of it. Once it’s gone, they’ll have a much easier time pushing their radical social agenda, which includes outrageous things like allowing women to choose, gay rights or stem cell research.

But lets get real; does anyone actually want to get rid of Christmas? Of course not. Christmas, like sex and pizza, has entered a rarified air of universal acceptance. I love it, at least. I love the gravitas of the church services that day, I love spending time with my family, and I love exchanging gifts over TNT’s 24-hour “A Christmas Story” marathon.

If anything, liberals are looking to protect the religion of Christmas and all the other holidays this season. We’re looking to make sure that Jews, Muslims and other religious minorities aren’t overwhelmed by our two-month long celebration of Christmas. That’s what the whole concept of the separation of church and state is about.

Now, admittedly, some people go too far with this ideal, and there’s no way to please everyone. But if a store changes its banners to say “Happy Holidays,” that at least doesn’t exclude anyone, and who the hell cares what Wal-Mart or Sears say about religion anyway? It’s so minor that I have to assume Bill and Sean only talk about it so they don’t have to talk about actually important things (like, oh, I don’t know, maybe the real war?)

Of course, there is a tiny kernel of truth in Gibson’s book. Christmas is becoming more commercial and less religious. That even disturbs some of us liberals. A great deal of us are Catholic, after all, so we’d like to see the birthday of our Lord receive a little more reverence and a little less bargain hunting. I’m sure the orthodoxy of all the other religions would like the same for their respective holidays.

There are two things that the “War on Christmas” ideology overlooks, though. First of all, reverence for the holidays has to begin at home. If the family doesn’t look beyond the gifts and parties, no display in the town square is going to be able to replace that lost respect.

Second, if you’re really concerned about the commercialization of Christmas, you’d better take another look at free market ideology. It’s the conservative devotion to laisseiz-faire business strategies that have led to extended holiday shopping hours and month-long advertising blitzes. We need to do better balancing capitalism with our ethics, and blaming liberals for the problem isn’t going to help.

So, it seems to me that the “War on Christmas” is just a boogeyman created to sell more copies of “The O’Reilly Factor for Kids,” not a major concern for our country.

Then again, maybe I’m just faking my opinion long enough to get a TIVO out of this holiday season.

Craig Colbrook is a senior in Communications. His column appears every Friday. He can be reached at [email protected]