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Letter From The Editor

The war on the war on the "war on Christmas"

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I'm hereby declaring war on the war on the "war on Christmas." I can no longer sit idly by as Fox News escalates this annual crusade of duplicitous demagoguery every holiday season. Yes, I said "holiday season." Get used to it.

Bill O'Reilly is the primary culprit, having spent the past several Novembers and Decembers ginning up outrage over the mythical "war on Christmas." In O'Reilly's world, saying "Happy Holidays" is an insult, part of a craven liberal plot designed to demean Jesus' birthday and remove Christianity from Christmas. If a corporation, a school, or any other public entity posts "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" in its stores or as part of its marketing or advertising, it's perpetrating the war on Christmas and insulting all good Christian Americans, and O'Reilly will call you out on it. Because ... he's tough that way.

Now, predictably, O'Reilly's Fox-mate Sean Hannity is jumping into this ignoble fray. And, even more predictably, so is the grizzly grifter, Sarah Palin, who's "written" a book about this horrific problem. It's called Good Tidings and Great Joy, and it is neither.

Palin went on Hannity's show on Veterans Day to plug her book. Hannity introduced her by bemoaning the "unbridled and unprecedented attacks" on Christmas. Palin turned it up a notch, claiming that "angry atheists" armed with attorneys "want to tell patriots ... that no longer can you acknowledge that Jesus is the reason for the season." Because ... rhyming.

Stop it, you tools. There is no Santa Claus, and there is no "liberal" war on Christmas. Yes, we can all agree that the idea of Christmas as a simple Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ has gotten lost in the blow-up yard snowmen, the billion-light house displays, the shopping binges, the chrome and neon Christmas trees, and the relentless commercials and sales. But let's be honest: It's opportunistic retail capitalism and our own lust for more "stuff" that's waging war on the true meaning of Christmas. If you want to get back to simply gathering your family, filling a stocking for everyone, and having a nice turkey dinner, no one's going stop you, patriot — though Walmart won't be pleased.

And people don't say "Happy Holidays" because they are angry liberal atheists who hate Jesus. They say it because they're aware that several other holidays occur in December and/or that not everyone celebrates Christmas. They're being sensitive and sensible, especially if they don't know you. They're doing unto others as they would like others to do unto them. (I read that somewhere.) Anyone who could twist a greeting wishing you happiness into an insult or a declaration of war is not a Christian. They're a fool or a demagogue. Or both.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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