James Wolcott on the Christmas Wars

From his blog:

Firing off his cap pistol in the enfeebled War against the War on Christmas, Jay Nordlinger, sounding like one of Cal Thomas’s old cardigan sweaters, simpers, “Two seconds ago, ‘Merry Christmas’ was about the warmest, nicest, most joyful thing you could say to someone. Now, it can be borderline hate speech.”

Oh please. Stop with the dearie-me hokum. I was out in the heathen streets of Manhattan yesterday and heard Merry Christmases being exchanged between shoppers, sales staff, pedestrians, parents and children without anybody blowing a whistle for the constable or falling face first in the filthy snow with stricken indignation. I don’t for the life of me understand why certain conservatives seem determined to sprout a bristle tail if somebody wishes them Happy Holidays (instead of M C), acting as if this were a weaselly euphemism meant as a slap in the face of the baby Jesus in the manger. Considering how eerily, bleakly empty so many of the streets and stores were yesterday on the final weekend before Christmas, I suspect shoppers, salespeeps, and store managers alike have larger worries on their minds than which holiday greeting would cause the least abrasion.

I’m all for Merry Christmas, but I do wonder what the reaction would be to widespread use of “Eid Mubarak.”

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7 Responses to James Wolcott on the Christmas Wars

  1. TrueNorth says:

    I don’t give a what greeting people use, provided they do it of their own free will, rather than for some moronic, multicultural PC reason. If some Muslim wishes me “Eid Mubarak!” I will be more than happy to reply “Same to you!”.

    All normal people, left or right, religious or atheist, should be annoyed by this Orwellian intrusion into our familiar, traditional forms of speech. I’m with Jay Nordlinger on this one.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Derek Scruggs says:

    I’m not clairvoyant enough to know whether someone is being PC. But I am an atheist and this prefer to say Happy Holidays. Does that pass muster, TrueNorth, or am I being offensive?

  3. David Hume says:

    My own observation is that in institutions (public or private sector) I hear happy holidays, but in civil society (e.g., “on the street”) I hear Merry Xmas. If I was in New York I would probably say Happy Holidays because of the large numbers of Jews, but not in most regions of the USA because of the Christian majority.

  4. TrueNorth says:

    Derek Scruggs:

    I use “Happy Holidays” myself too, when I know the person I am addressing is religious, but not Christian. My ire is directed at such places as Amazon.com turning the “Twelve Days of Christmas” into the “Twelve Days of Holiday” or the Christmas Tree store that warns its employees not to use the dreaded C-word. How dumb is that? Can one not assume that persons buying a Christmas Tree are going to be celebrating Christmas?

    I am also an atheist, by the way. I celebrate Christmas and I say “Merry Christmas” because it has a nice ring to it.

  5. Sean O'Hara says:

    I never tell anyone “Merry Christmas” except on December 24th and 25th — you don’t tell someone “Have a happy Fourth of July” in the middle of June, so why would you say “Merry Christmas” at the beginning of December?

    As for “Happy holidays,” I don’t think it was invented for PC purposes, but as a shorter way of saying “Merry Christmas and happy New Year.” I can’t believe serious conservatives get their undies in a bunch over it.

  6. B.B. says:

    I remember that in 2005 Bill O’Reilly was making a big deal out of the fact that some stores were using the word “Holiday” instead of “Christmas”. Liberals had a good laugh when it turned out his own online store was selling “Holiday” ornaments for “Holiday trees”.

    I think the reality of the situation is that most people used to use these words inter-changeably without putting much thought into it, but it seems some religious conservatives have elevated saying “Happy Holidays” into some malevolent politically correct conspiracy to de-Christianize and secularize society. The effect it has had is that now people have to be extremely self-conscious of what Holiday/Christmas greeting they will give in order not to offend the sensibilities of religious conservatives. Now, who is really being politically correct here?

  7. Kevembuangga says:

    The only safe way is to put a disclaimer:

    From the wisher (me) to the wishee (you) please accept without obligation implied or implicit my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct low stress, non-addictive gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious and or secular persuasions and or traditions of others or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

    I wish you a financially successful personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year of 2009 but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects having regard to the race creed colour age physical ability religious faith choice of computer platform or sexual preference of the wishee.

    By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms:
    This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal.
    This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the propriety rights of the wisher are acknowledged.
    This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes.
    This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably as may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.
    The wisher warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
    Any reference in this greeting to “the Lord”, “Our Saviour”, “Rudolph theRed Nosed Reindeer,” “Aliens” or any other festive figures whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting and all propriety rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.
    Have a great holiday. Whatever Christmas means to you.I hope you and those dear to you have an enjoyable time.

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