Sunday, December 11, 2005

More on the "War on Christmas"

Actually, the accusation by the right that there's a liberal war on Christmas is more serious than first meets the eye. The dynamics of this are explored by Robert Parry in his article entitled, "The meaning of (the war over) Christmas". Here's the big point he makes:

While an outsider arriving in the United States might see a nation celebrating Christmas with an unrivaled intensity and extravagance, the Right's media has created another world for its followers - where Christians are persecuted for celebrating their faith, where they are repressed by cruel non-Christians and evil secularists.

This perceived persecution exists even as America's downtowns and shopping malls are bedecked with the red-and-green Christmas colors and Christmas symbols are everywhere, even in cities like New York with large populations of Jews and Muslims.

It's the drumming up of a belief in victimhood by what is really a powerful group that has Parry concerned:

There is, of course, a danger whenever a powerful group begins to view itself as the victim, because their real power allows these ersatz oppressed to inflict far greater harm on their enemies than could a group without power.

Historically, the world has seen this phenomenon many times, for instance, when Christians in Europe convinced themselves that they were at the mercy of cunning Jews. Many of the continent's anti-Jewish pogroms were conducted by Christians convinced that they were simply defending their way of life, that they were the real victims.

Now, the United States is witnessing a similar exploitation of Christian fears and the fanning of Christian anger. The "war on Christmas" theme is one manifestation of this growing chip on the shoulder.

The Right has learned well how it can deploy its powerful media to make even the most ludicrous notion seem real - both frightening and infuriating - to millions of Americans.

Well, I'm glad I've finished my Christmas shopping. I don't want to be in a store where some clerk wishes me a "Merry Christmas" and I won't know whether it's a genuine greeting or political one-upmanship.

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