So apparently the forces of Christmas have won the battle in Boston to call their public holiday tree display a "Christmas tree."
Here's my first reaction:
Considering that there's an actual war going on -- one where real people have given their lives -- how is it possible that it's not considered poor taste for the religious right to be calling this a war? And, really, could they even think of a stupider issue to use to distract the public from real issues like the president threatening to start yet another real war?
I don't even want to touch the whole first amendment establishment clause issue because it's been thoroughly and repeatedly covered by others. What I can't figure out is why anyone would even want to wage a war against the imaginary forces of anti-Christmas.
Apparently -- throughout the public sphere -- theocrats would like to see "Merry Christmas" replace "Happy Holidays." This is because "Happy Holidays" threatens Christmas's position as the one and only holiday people might possibly be celebrating during the holiday season. And poor Christmas feels degraded when it gets lumped together with less-important holidays like New Year's and Boxing Day and whatnot.
I guess I can almost sort of see the logic to that when it concerns people who celebrate Christmas. I love Christmas, and I'm happy to wish a very Merry Christmas to all my friends and family members who celebrate Christmas. The problem is that the crusaders for Christmas seem to want to insist that a Merry Christmas -- and only a Merry Christmas -- be wished to everyone, regardless of belief, by stores, by municipal holiday displays, at office parties, etc. In that case, what does "Merry Christmas!" even mean?
Here's what it means:
"I hope you have a warm and wonderful Christmas celebration! However, I don't hope that you have a happy Hanukkah. I don't hope you and your family have a happy (Pagan) Yule or Solstice celebration or a good Ramadan. And if you and your family celebrated Diwali this year, I don't care if it was a merry one or not."
What kind of person would want to say such a thing? Have they got something against being considerate to others? Call me crazy, but to me well-wishing should have some sort of (theoretical?) connection with actually wishing the person well. And especially during the holiday season, what's wrong with a little goodwill to all? Even to those people who are **shudder** a little different from yourself.
When it comes right down to it, the so-called "War on Christmas" isn't about the Christians vs. their favorite whipping-boy the atheists, as much as they'd like to paint it that way. Atheists sometimes join in the fray just on the principle of separation of church and state, but really, the apathetic-to-non-believing set aren't the ones being excluded. Atheism has no competing holidays, so non-believers tend to just stick with familiar traditions. That means that American atheists actually celebrate Christmas more often than not. Really, the "War on Christmas" is about Christian supremacists picking on other traditions and on other "people of faith."