Early Stirrings of Holiday Mayhem

For a few years, it seemed as if all the talk about the so-called “war on Christmas” was over, and those who were behind that particular annual dead-horse-flogging had either grown up a bit or simply manufactured other things with which to enrage themselves. This year it has not only returned but seems to be starting even earlier than in years past. At least it doesn’t arrive this year like a torrential flood of anger and social outrage from multiple sources. No, this year it trickles in in the form of a ridiculous viral video.

If you’re familiar at all with trends in the online “Christianity versus atheism” debate, you’ve probably had the unfortunate experience of watching a video by Josh Feuerstein. Like most other Christian evangelists I’ve heard, Josh speaks fairly rapidly and makes copious use of Christian buzzwords. It’s through the sheer volume of words and use of religious catchphrases that Josh has garnered a sizeable online following, because none of his points bear up under even the slightest amount of scrutiny. He seems incapable, on a cellular level, of expressing a rational thought, and his claims range from “wildly factually inaccurate” to “completely unhinged from any sense of reality”. I feel tainted by even having to mention him at all, but it’s his video about Starbucks hating Christmas and Jesus which has officially touched off this year’s seasonal uproar. Okay, enough about him. I hope they make blog bleach because I need a gallon right about now.

The new Starbucks cup hasn’t removed the words “Merry Christmas” since they weren’t even there in previous years. Moreover, this year’s design incorporates no greetings whatsoever. The reasons for this are given very plainly RIGHT HERE by Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks VP of Design & Content. As the post states, Starbucks customers have been drawing on their cups for years and this season’s holiday cup is essentially a blank red canvas inviting people to tell their own stories and share their own holiday expressions. Starbucks is deliberately being more open about things. Anyone who could possibly turn this into a pointed discriminatory message needs to be kept in isolation under medical and psychological watch until they learn what words mean.

There’s nothing which prevents someone from decorating their cup with all sorts of Christian imagery: a huge cross, a manger scene, maybe the word “Jesus” in some funky graffiti-looking style. Take tons of pictures of it and plaster them all over your social media accounts if you get the notion. You’ll probably get a reaction in the comments section, but there’s nothing preventing you from taking those pics or posting them. Conversely, you could draw a tree in the shape of a dead ferret on a stick, decorate it with glowing skull ornaments, and write “Earth Sucks Balls And I Hate Everything” in big letters. Post those pics all over your social media accounts. Aside from people worrying about your mental health and maybe some spam comments offering you shady prescriptions for discount Thorazine, you probably won’t hear anything about those either. There’s simply no merit to any claims about the Starbucks holiday cup being a declaration of war.

On a bigger scale, there’s just no evidence of any type of war on Christmas. Those who strive to perpetuate this cultural myth point to the removal of nativity scenes and the use of “happy holidays” at retail checkout counters, claiming this is all done to cater to a vocal minority and to avoid hurting their feelings. But let’s examine these points a little more closely. Nativity scenes have been removed from the grounds of government-operated facilities in an effort to comply with the First Amendment which prohibits government endorsement of any particular religion. They may also have been removed from some shopping malls, but those are privately-owned businesses which can do what they wish and are under no compulsion to put up nativity scenes in the first place. If it’s that big a deal to you, then shop at a mall with a nativity scene. Same with the “happy holidays” thing. There’s no need to manufacture a social cause around it. You should relax, maybe drink more.

The really strange thing is how being inclusive can be twisted into being exclusionary. If a business doesn’t explicitly display your preferred holiday greeting, then they “hate” it? If an individual doesn’t phrase their holiday greeting in the exact manner you prefer, then they’re declaring war on it? Please explain to me how that can even begin to make sense. The more likely scenario is that a particular religious viewpoint is no longer being afforded the same level of social privilege it once had and its adherents don’t like it one bit. The tell is the incessant ranting about catering to hurt feelings, which sounds like it’s coming from people whose feelings are hurt because they’re no longer being catered to. Gotta respect that level of projection and complete lack of self-awareness, folks.

Look, I don’t get bent out of shape about this kind of thing. Draw the Sistine Chapel ceiling on your Starbucks cup, change your name to Jesus until after New Years, shout “Merry Christmas” through a megaphone if you want to. Or don’t do any of that. I don’t care. Just enjoy your holidays with family and friends however you choose, and let that be enough. I’m going to go weep over the fact that this is even a concern which needs to be addressed in this day and age, and also over how broke I’m going to be in a couple of months since everything my kids want for Christmas is insanely expensive.

 

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