Dear Catholic League: Please Stop Helping

Dear Catholic League: Please Stop Helping December 3, 2014

Here’s CL’s latest Holiday Offering/a>

Because putting a wordy, confusing, hostile, defensive, and passive-aggressive billboard up to baffle and assault innocent motorists is what Christmas is all about.

Had a conversation recently on FB with somebody who announced “I love saying ‘Merry Christmas’ because it makes liberals squirm” and who followed this up with the strange remark that saying “Merry Christmas” is like giving rat poison to liberals.

Cuz that’s not at all pathological or anything.

Here’s the thing: when you turn a blessing like “Merry Christmas” into a culture war weapon against Teh Damn Libruls, the problem is with you, not the people you seek to make “squirm”.  Hoping that somebody will hate Christmas so you can make them squirm is an excellent way to make yourself hateful.  Comparing Christmas to rat poison is serious Mission Creep.

And, of course, the irony is that these mythical squirming liberals are mythical.  I live in ultra-violet blue Seattle and regularly wish people “Merry Christmas” all the time during the season.  Nobody takes offense or squirms.  They just say thank you, offer some similar sentiment, and smile and everybody goes on their Merry Christmas way.  The *only* people I ever run into who talk about how allegedly offensive “Merry Christmas” is are Culture Warrior Right Wing Christians who dream of making somebody squirm by saying it.  I have never in my life been told by any Lefty that “Merry Christmas” offended them.  I have often been wished “Merry Christmas” by Lefties (and by non-Christians of various stripes).

Christians who run around looking for reasons to be offended when some harried department store clerk says “Happy Holidays!” or “Season’s Greeting” (since they don’t know if the customer is Christian, Jewish, Muslim or None of the Above) have a total net impact of affecting harried clerks and normal people as 1) butthurt human toothaches and/or 2) belligerent bullies looking for a fight. That is not what Christmas is about, Charlie Brown.

And, of course, the grand irony is that the real driver in the neutral “Happy Holidays” approach to Christmas is not Squirming Secular Humanist Liberals.  It’s good old-fashioned beloved-by-conservative-Christians Capitalism.  Corporations and businesses who don’t want to offend customers are the ones who opt for the cheery neutrality.  Ordinary people, however, still tend to take any greeting cheerily.  If a clerk says “Happy Holidays” the sane response is “Thanks!  Merry Christmas to you too!”  If a Jewish friend says “Happy Hannukah!” the sane response is “Thanks!  You too!” not, “Merry *Christ*mas, Jew!”

I would tell you how to apply this to people who wish you a happy winter solstice or Saturnalia, or some other outre holiday, but here’s the thing: those bogeymen live almost entirely in the imagination of the Culture War militant who spends his time dreaming of making liberals crawl and squirm for Christmas.  It’s not a real issue.  It’s a ginned up Culture War issue invented by people who think that Christmas is a tool in the culture war and not the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.  I’ve never in my life  run into somebody who wished me a “Happy Solstice” as anything other than a gag.  Don’t get manipulated into reducing Christmas to something as petty as an opportunity to make some tribal enemy squirm.  Be counter-cultural and joyous.  It’s not every day that the God of the universe places himself in our midst, not as a conquering tribal warrior, but as a helpless baby.

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