Sunday, December 18, 2005

Merry Christmas...or else!

Can somebody please explain to me why some Christians are so religiously insecure that they simply must have the words "Merry Christmas" broadcast at them from every nook and cranny of their lives? Bill O'Reilly and the nutty right seem to be absolutely horrified at the notion that someone might want to not assume everyone they meet celebrates Christmas. The phrase "Happy Holidays" is as offensive to them as "Seig Heil" would be to me.

I am more than a bit astonished and bewildered at this whole persecution complex that some on the loony Christian right have affected. The vast majority of people in this country are Christians, and American Christians enjoy more religious freedom than at any other time in history. Yet, along with their freedom OF religion, some Christians want freedom FROM people who aren't Christians, and ideas that don't fit into a very narrow Christian viewpoint.

Savvy Christian fundamentalist political operatives, many of whom now sit at the highest levels of power in this country, are taking advantage of this religious insecurity to trumpet the idea that the "secular" world is at war with Christianity, with traditional morality, whatever that means, with, *gasp* the nuclear family itself! They pine for a sort of mythical 1950s Utopia, where father knows best, where mother's in the kitchen baking cookies, and every God-fearing heterosexual white Christian family is holding hands singing kumbaya and ignoring the black family next door being bussed to a separate but unequal school.

These political operatives are so savvy that they're able to use an almost Orwellian strategy of claiming that those who have the most power in this country are actually persecuted outsiders. This "War on Christmas" is simply the latest incarnation of this tactic, which is also being used to attack the GLBT community, women who want reproductive freedom, people who don't want to be prayed at in public schools, scientists, and other threats to "traditional morality." By creating a conflict where none exists, Christian fundamentalist political operatives like Pat Robertson and James Dobson are able to keep their faithful supporters active and angry and willing to donate time and money to the effort to re-make America into a heterosexual Christian theocracy.

What the people who are victims of this propaganda war, the families who have been duped by these theocratic con artists, don't realize is that the people on the other side of the war aren't actually fighting it. Gay people don't want to force anything on straight people or break up their marriages. We just want to be left alone and allowed to participate in society as equals. Pro-choice women aren't going around ripping babies out of the wombs of God-fearing Christian mothers. They just want the freedom to control their own bodies. Science teachers aren't trying to burn Bibles and tell you that you can't believe the world was created in 6 days. They just want to teach children about, you know, scientific facts, like gravity, and evolution.

In the same way, non-Christians aren't going around putting a gun to anyone's head making them say "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas. We frankly don't care what you say to us when we enter a store. Hey, here's an idea. Why not just say "Hello, welcome to our store?"

So my message to all of the poor persecuted Christians who control America is this: just shut up. Leave me alone, go have your Christmas, and let me live my life in peace, free from your whining about how insecure you are about your own religion that you have to force it on me. I'll be over here living my own life, as a Jew, someone who knows a little something about being persecuted, and being secure enough in my own religion that I frankly don't care if you wish me a "Merry Christmas" or a "Happy Holidays" when I walk into Target to buy yet another incredibly cheap sweater.