Another Christmas has passed, and alas, so has the
Jewish secular humanist war on it… at least until next December. I spent the weekend in nonstop celebration with my daughter’s large Irish-Catholic family (in truth, the celebration continues later this morning with brunch), and I must glumly report from the front that we have once again lost the war. It was a joyous day for all. Damn.
A couple weeks back I wrote about the bogus “War on Christmas”, pointing out that it was far from just a harmless marketing ploy to bump ratings for Fox News. Such rhetoric cannot help but stir latent, anti-Semitic sentiments:
Gibson and O’Reilly are careful not to name the enemy, but the vile rhetoric and its impact are unchanged. For who else would wage a “war on Christmas” than Christianity’s favorite 2000-year-old enemy… the Jews?
The right’s war on the “war on Christmas” is a political strategy intended to divide the nation along religious and cultural lines, and like all wars, there will be victims. How many Fox viewers have openly and angrily derided this attack on Christian America, and how many Jewish children have already been harassed by their schoolmates as a result? Anybody who has ever been a child should understand that this sort of open hostility happens everyday, and that the subtle strains of discrimination that lie beneath the surface of 21st Century America are not so subtle to the children who are its target.
Okay… maybe I was wrong to warn that anti-Semitism lies just beneath the surface of American society. As several of my readers made clear in the comment threads, anti-Semitism and other forms of racial discrimination remain an open wound for all to see. Curiously, in addition to the usual gloating over my inevitable consignment to the fires of Hell, one of the Christian soldiers’ recurring themes was to question my Jewishness. I was dismissed as a “JINO”, accused of being an enemy of Israel… I was even compared to Hitler. (Unfavorably.) I suppose their tactic is to undermine my critique by destroying my credibility as a Jew… a stunning lack of insight that demonstrates by example the rarely understood fact that anti-Semitism is more about race than religion: it isn’t our Judaism that people hate, it’s our Jewishness.
But it’s not just old “Nazi behind every bush” Goldy who sees the “War on Christmas” for what it really is. In yesterday’s New York Times, my favorite columnist, Frank Rich, points out the obvious anti-Semitic undercurrents. ["I Saw Jackie Mason Kissing Santa Claus."]
Rabble-rousing paranoia about a supposed assault on Christmas also has a strong anti-Semitic and far-right pedigree. In Salon, Ms. Goldberg noted that fulmination about supposed Jewish opposition to Christmas dates to Henry Ford’s infamous “The International Jew” of 1921. That chord is sounded in the very first anecdote in the book by the Fox News anchor John Gibson, “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought”: a devastated father discovers that his 4-year-old son has brought home preschool artwork showing a Hanukkah menorah and Kwanzaa candles, rather than a Christmas tree. But Mr. Gibson goes on to add ecumenically that “not just Jewish people” are out to kill Christmas. As he elucidated on Christian radio, all non-Christians are “following the wrong religion,” though he reassures us that they will be tolerated “as long as they’re civil and behave.”
Well, I for one am not willing to be civil and behave, and some of my righty readers have shown their intolerance in response. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t hate Christmas. What I hate is the way assholes like Gibson and O’Reilly stir up hate and resentment towards minorities by perpetuating this cynical myth of an oppressed Christian majority.