Icing the controversy brewing over red cups

By Stephanie Youssef

If anyone ever told me that they were offended by Starbucks, I would have guessed it would have been due to their disgusting coffee. I still remember the one and only time I ever bought a coffee drink from Starbucks and instantaneously spat out the revolting, bitter and burnt cup of liquid dirt the moment it touched my lips. Never would I have guessed that the problem people would have with Starbucks concerned something as innocuous their cups.

I was wrong.

Starbucks recently released this year’s version of their seasonal cup as a simple two-toned red color, with the body of the cup lacking the snowflake and reindeer designs seen in previous years. Instead, snowflakes were designed as a print for the cardboard cup sleeves.

It’s the unraveling of a modern Greek tragedy ladies and gentlemen. Oedipus pales in comparison.

Former Pastor Joshua Feuerstein recently posted a video rant on Facebook titled “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus”, describing how the new design of the seasonal Starbucks red cup is part of the ongoing war on Christmas. He then detailed an elaborate scheme of how he told the barista his name was Merry Christmas in order to get it written on the cup, and encouraged others to do the same and post about it with the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks. https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/videos/689569711145714/

“I thought the new design for the red cup was really festive,” said Alex Bahadri, Senior in LAS. “I didn’t really see anything controversial about it.” Virtually every student I spoke to about this issue echoed the same sentiment.

For a company that is selling an Advent calendar and a seasonal blend of coffee quite literally labeled “Starbucks Christmas Blend”, the soldiers for Starbucks’ alleged war on Christmas aren’t exactly armed and ready. But that’s not to say that a war on Christmas doesn’t exist otherwise.

For the past few years, Christians across the nation have seen “Merry Christmas” turn into an offensive slur rather than a pleasant greeting. They watched the constitutionality of public Nativity scenes debated in court while Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee tried to ban the word Christmas from the Christmas tree lighting at the State House in favor of the term “Holiday Tree.” They witnessed little girls getting kicked out of grocery stores in Washington for singing Christmas Carols while a school in Texas banned everything down to the colors red and green. http://mrconservative.com/2013/12/28874-little-girls-kicked-out-of-grocery-store-for-offending-customers-with-christmas-carols/ http://mrconservative.com/2013/12/28630-texas-school-bans-not-only-christmas-trees-but-the-colors-red-and-green-too/

This repeated admonition of the public use of religious Christmas symbols by political correctness extremists has seen justified backlash from the Christian community. A small faction of people, who held a more extreme position, were quick to displace their general frustrations with this marginalization to Starbucks.

In reality, Starbucks red cups never displayed religious symbols—the designs have always been secular. A statement released by Starbucks claimed that the more simplistic design of this season’s cup came as inspiration from customers who have been drawing their own designs on cups for years—the intention being that the cup is a canvas for people to personalize.

Wanting to make doodling more accessible seems like an innocent enough objective, but that still didn’t stop some people from shouting blasphemy. Feuerstein and those like him who demand that Christmas symbols decorate every inch of any container that houses their mediocre-at-best coffee from November through December are declaring oppression in voices just as extreme as the hyper-politically-correct culture they are fighting.

In truth, focusing microaggressions on something as silly as coffee cups detracts from some of the real questions regarding religious liberties and freedom of expression during the holiday season—questions that actually call for concern. Should religious floats have been banned from holiday parades in Denver? Should nativity scenes be taken away from public properties? What about religious Christmas songs on the radio? These are the legitimate concerns that we should be discussing. To say that leaving snowflakes off of a paper cup design represents an assault on Christianity just seems a little weak, forced and unconvincing.

Feuerstein’s video has garnered over half a million likes and shares, and #MerryChristmasStarbucks trended with photos and posts on Instagram and Twitter.

In reaction, those who rolled their eyes at this cup controversy as hard as I did began posting responses under the appropriate hashtag: #ItsJustACup.

Stephanie is a senior in LAS.

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