…but Joe Hargrave’s completely unhinged rant, which manages to use my suggestion that we not use Christmas as an excuse for completely unhinged culture war rhetoric, has to win some kind of prize. Seriously:
Now I turn to Mark Shea, who prides himself on navigating between what he thinks are the extremes, the radical secular left and the supposedly “fundie” right, Catholic and Protestant. In this post he complains about the “Christmas Inquisitors” who are supposedly just as offended by the absence of religious terms and images during Christmas as the secularists are offended by their presence, and both need to chill out. Well, that isn’t going to happen. And let me tell you why.
First of all, seemingly little things matter. Seemingly little things add up. There is quality, and there is quantity. When quantities reach a critical mass, they transform qualitatively. When you add up enough little incidents, enough little setbacks, enough little unbalanced and one-sided compromises, eventually they add up to one massive defeat. You reach a point at which there are no inches left for you to take a step back into, when you are finally up against the wall or the sea, and you have no choice but to fight. We aren’t there today, but we’re being pushed there, and we aren’t pushing back hard enough. The Christmas battle is one of many fronts in the culture war that we cannot afford to lose. If there is no Christian culture, there is no Christianity.
You think it’s too much. You’re rational, you’re calm. Maybe you attended Jon Stewart’s “Restore Sanity” rally. Maybe you think you’re a conservative and you thought David Frum’s patronizing sham “No Labels” was a good idea. Maybe you think that the people out there who hate Christianity, who hate children and treat pregnancy as a disease and a threat to the environment, who hate home schools and private schools and want to corral the children you do have into government-run pornography sessions called “sex education classes” are reasonable and rational and clam like you.
Well, I hear Eichmann was clam as he gave the orders to gas the Jews. I hear that some of the men who pulled the levers and turned the spigots that released the gas into the chambers did their jobs very calmly. That’s why the philosopher Hanna Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil”, and yes I’m aware that the phrase has been used to the death to the point where it has become banal, but you need to hear it again and again because most of you still associate evil with growling monsters and flames and men with thin mustaches who rub their hands together after they tie the helpless girl to the railroad tracks.
Oh, there he goes, comparing people who have a problem with “Merry Christmas” to the Nazis. Don’t we have enough of that in our society? Well, I’m not comparing them in any way other than the banality of their evil. No, acting like a fascist psychopath to try and silence a simple religious phrase or make people feel guilty about it is not the equivalent of acting like a fascist psychopath who actually murders thousands or millions of people. But it’s on the same spectrum, and it’s time you wake up and understand that. Only a fascist psychopath has a problem with the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Only the victim of a fascist psychopath hesitates before using the phrase because images of persecution and lawsuits and ridicule flash through their mind before the words come out.
Soooo…. difficulty finding a Christmas card leads to Eichmann? Or something.
What I love is how, sensing the awkward silence in the room as he soars into his rhetorical flight of fancy about gas chambers and monsters, Hargrave hastily tries to pull a Nixon and say, “I’m not comparing anybody with Nazis” but then immediately lapses into the invocations of Nazis, fascists, psychopaths and all the rest–all because I made fun of a site devoted to obsessing over perceived slights from shopkeepers. A magnificently unhinged performance that, you know, pretty much illustrates my point.
Oh, and I also love Hargrave’s remark that Christmas Inquisitors are “supposedly just as offended by the absence of religious terms and images during Christmas as the secularists are offended by their presence. I think that, in Hargrave’s case, there’s no “supposedly” about it. The leap from Nina Totenberg’s jitters about offending her circle of snooty friends to THE HOLOCAUST!!!! has to beat anything ever done by an Olympic Gold Medalist.