Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Political Skirmish in the War on Christmas

I wonder who fired the first shot in the current battle in the War on Christmas?

Was it Mitt Romney, in his "My Religion May Be Weird, But I'm Not, So Elect Me" speech? True, he doesn't even mention the word "Christmas" in the address, which was delivered on December 6. But he did talk an awful lot about the role of faith in public life, which might have made the other candidates a little nervous.

So they got in on the act: first Huckabee with his "Shucks, Folks, Let's Forget All This Liberal Mean-Spirited 'Campaigning' Stuff And Have Ourselves A Merry Little Christmas (Which As You Know Is a Christian Holiday And I'd Just Like To Remind All of Y'All That I'm the Christian Candidate)" ad. Naturally, various attacks against the ad and Huckabee ensued.

Then it was Ron Paul, with his, "I Think Sinclair Said Fascism Would Be Wrapped In a Flag And Carrying a Cross, but Please Don't Think I Mean Anything Negative By That--and Have You Seen My Christmas Message?" interview.

Staying out of the argument, the thrice-married nominally Catholic candidate did what any other covert secularist would do: he went shopping. Hate to mention this, Mr. Giuliani, but buying angels won't help your campaign--or your image--much; and posing for Christmas cards only slightly beats out posing for holy cards, you know.

So why does any of this count as part of the War on Christmas?

Because the War on Christmas isn't just about our incredibly hypocritical retail industry, which bites its knuckles all year long hoping that Americans will be seized with strong consumptive fits centered around Christmas shopping but refuses even to use the word "Christmas" in their advertising and marketing schemes. At the deepest level the War on Christmas is about viewing the Birth of Christ as something which we can objectify, commodify, and exploit for our own purposes, whether those purposes are about profit, politics, power, or pandering.

But the exploiters of Christmas should look to the actual Christmas story to see themselves within it. Politics? A census demanded, a very pregnant woman and her husband journeying away from their home at a most inconvenient time. Profit? There was no room for Joseph and Mary at the inn. Power and pandering? A deceitful king, alarmed at the news of the birth of the King of Heaven, pretending to want only to pay homage to this new royal son, but secretly plotting His murder.

The War on Christmas has been going on for a very, very long time. But no one who tries to exploit the Birth of Christ for his own purposes ever succeeds. It's something the participants in the current political-themed skirmish in this battle might want to stop and ponder for a moment or two.

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