I hate Starbucks. It’s nothing personal. For my generation of anti-globalization activists at the turn of the millennium, Starbucks became the symbol of corporate globalization just like Nike. They are the Walmart of coffee. It should be oxymoronic to have a chain coffee shop, because coffee shops are supposed to be the one place left where local culture happens. Starbucks has a brilliant marketing campaign going on right now. By baiting a handful of far-right wing-nut Christians into attacking them for this year’s coffee cup design, they’ve gotten all of Facebook to stand in solidarity with them. I’ve shared the memes too. And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the war against Christmas. And I’m sick of the war against the war against Christmas and the way that capitalism profits from it.
My friend Alan Noble invented a new term to describe the posturing of the culture wars: faux-fended (pronounced foe-fended). Some Breitbart blogger (whom I’m not going to link) wanted to score some easy traffic so he got faux-fended by Starbucks’ reindeer-less red cups and then a floodgate of bloggers and meme-makers saw the opportunity to get faux-fended by his faux-fense so they could ride the viral wave. And I wanted an easy blog post to write on a Monday morning, so here I am taking faux-fense at the Starbucks marketing solidarity team who were faux-fended by the faux-fendedness of the Breitbart blogger.
Can we please not do this all the way to Christmas? Can we please admit that it makes us feel awesome and self-righteous to heap judgment on those stupid fundamentalists who think there’s a war against Christmas? I’m just not sure how many of them actually exist in the real world. Maybe other people are less sheltered from fundamentalism than I am, but I don’t see real people saying the things that I enjoy being exasperated and faux-fended by. It just seems like everybody tangled up in this whole mess is enjoying hearing themselves talk (or watching their traffic skyrocket).
One of the best memes that I’ve seen talks about “putting the Christ back in Christmas” by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. That’s not just something we need to tell those ignorant fundamentalist Christians in our imagination to do. If you share the meme, then you’ve made a public pledge for how you’re going to be spending your Christmas season. The best way to fight a war against the supposed war against Christmas is to completely ignore Fox News, Breitbart, and all the other faux-fended professional clickbait-makers. Instead of allowing them to control the conversation, how about we “retaliate” by actually doing Christmas the Jesus way for people in our community?
Or if you’re not a Christian, don’t call it Christmas. Why should you? Call it “happy holidays” and make the next six weeks a season of holy days when we take care of people in our communities. And please buy your coffee from a local coffee shop that uses real ceramic coffee mugs instead of killing trees to make a special red Christmas cup that becomes an epic Facebook meme.