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What do you all think of this so-called "War on Christmas" on which Bill O'Reilly has much propounded?

Edit, 22:10 CST Monday 19 Dec 2005 - I wished one of our student secretaries "Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah" this morning, unsure of her religious and ethnic background. She said "It's `Merry Christmas' for me; how about you?" and I averred that it's `Merry Christmas' for me, too. She said "Yeah, you have to be careful about it these days". Now, I've actually heard most of our secretaries talking about church events, but not in this case. When in doubt, I do say "Happy Holidays", but to any of my known Christian friends I never hesitate to say "Merry Christmas".

And now Bill O'Reilly has just finished lambasting Nicholas Kristof in his "Talking Points Memo" on The O'Reilly Factor, for his "Challenge to Bill O'Reilly" in today's New York Times. I watch The O'Reilly Factor less often than the Colbert Report these days, but I tuned in today to see what all the fuss was about.

Frankly, I think it's a non-issue. Certainly I don't think people are furtively whispering "Merry Christmas" and glancing around corners to see whether a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union comes flying at them! I think it's surprising that, according to a poll that Mr. O'Reilly cited, "3% of Americans consider 'Merry Christmas' offensive". I think insisting on `Merry Christmas' as a holiday greeting in a mosque or synagogue might be out of place, but as I see it, that would be rather out-of-context for purposes of this poll.

References: ( Reuters | O'Reilly Factor | Media Matters | Washington Post )

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah and High Aslanmas to you,


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 20th, 2005 04:24 am (UTC)
I generally stick to "Happy Holidays" or "Happy ChristmaKwanzaHannukah." Finding "Merry Christmas" offensive is a bit much, but so is finding anything BUT "Merry Christmas" offensive (and I've met those too.)

Maybe "Have an Elder God Holiday" is the way to go in all occassions.
Dec. 20th, 2005 04:28 am (UTC)
Fine, Chrismacthulhuhannukah it is
Well, Chrismacthulhuhannukah might be offensive to nontheists. Better stick to Chrismacthulhukwanzakah.

Dec. 20th, 2005 04:29 am (UTC)
Re: Fine, Chrismacthulhuhannukah it is
Try saying THAT after about four eggnoggs.
Dec. 20th, 2005 04:31 am (UTC)
I will note...
... that I had "chrismahanukwanzakah" (correctly spelt!) in my tags before all the edits! ;-)

One eggnog is my limit.
Hot buttered rum, OTOH, I could go for right now.

Dec. 20th, 2005 04:34 am (UTC)
Happy Saturnalia!
Dec. 20th, 2005 04:36 am (UTC)
Joyous Yuletide!
And Warmest High Aslanmas Greetings!

(Until I googled, I thought I was the first to come up with that. :-D)

Dec. 20th, 2005 04:53 am (UTC)
As much as I dislike Mr O'Reilly and his shenanigans, I have to agree that this whole business of requiring people to wish "Merry Christmas" "Happy Holidays" is patently absurd.

It's akin to forcing people to start referring man holes as person holes, so as to not be sexist! :-) - A case of P.C gone rabid.
Dec. 20th, 2005 05:08 am (UTC)
I have never seen anyone actually promulgate a requirement, even the ACLU, any more than I've seen O'Reilly call for boycotts "in defense of Christmas" as some have claimed.

I wish people "Happy Holidays" iff I'm not sure what they celebrate or know that they do not celebrate any religious holiday associated with the Winter Solstice +/- a week. Otherwise, I wish them a happy faith-specific holiday. I think this is thoughtful and reasonable and that forcing someone to accept a "Merry Christmas" greeting would (hypothetically) be unreasonable. However, I'm not aware of anyone who does this.

I think that if someone wishes everyone "Merry Christmas" because he or she is Christian, that's his or her right, but he or she should not be offended or resist being wished a happy holiday according to the faith or atheism of the reciprocal well-wisher. There's my protocol. :-D

Dec. 20th, 2005 05:15 am (UTC)
Re: "Requirement"
I have never seen anyone actually promulgate a requirement, even the ACLU
I agree. This might be another of O'Reilly's attempts at sensationalism.

Of course I can't speak for all non-Christians, but every one I know, upon being wished "Merry Christmas" wouldn't bat an eyelid in wishing you right back.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 20th, 2005 07:31 am (UTC)
I concur...
... with your general view.

Where, may I ask, did you run into anyone who was offended by your lack of outrage?

And what's a mutant pseudo-Deist? It sounds fascinating.
Where would you put yourself in the convert_me challenge?

Dec. 20th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC)
Merry Christmas..
One of our Principals in Brisbane, actually apologised to a parent who complained that the newsletter was offensive with the Merry Christmas message.
Our premier said every Australian had the right to say Merry Christmas as much as they liked, and he said,"Merry Christmas to all, and I'm not apologising to anyone."

I wouldn't feel offended or whatever if someone wished me Happy Ramadan, Hannukah, New Year in the middle of February or whatever.
Dec. 20th, 2005 07:34 am (UTC)
I agree on all counts...
... though even if there were individual objectors, or even a test case in the Australian courts, I don't think that rises to the level of a "War on Christmas" any more than the "under God"/Pledge of Allegiance controversy in the USA constitutes a "war on America" or "American war against God".

Dec. 20th, 2005 06:24 am (UTC)
it offends me to say '("Merry" | "Happy") *', as not only am I am a devout atheist, but I am also a 'bah humbug' kind of guy.
Dec. 20th, 2005 07:02 am (UTC)
Happy Misanthropy to you!
And Merry Genocide!
The Vast Nothingness take us, every one!

Dec. 20th, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)
I don't understand how can anyone be offended hearing "Merry Christmas". Do Christians get offended hearing "Happy Ramadan" (if there was such thing ;P)?
Dec. 20th, 2005 09:28 am (UTC)
Barnes and Noble and Fry's Electronics
Well, I get offended at any mention of Barnes and Noble or Fry's Electronics, if that helps. ;-)

Dec. 20th, 2005 11:43 am (UTC)
Re: Barnes and Noble and Fry's Electronics
Oh, now, tell the truth.

It's not that you get offended, as such.

It's just that mention of these places makes the baby Bana cry.
Dec. 20th, 2005 10:51 am (UTC)
Bah, we have it easy with our abstract, areligious "Happy Holidays". When did you last hear anyone in Poland mentioning anything religious about Christmas? :P

Dec. 20th, 2005 08:08 pm (UTC)
... in Narnia, where it was "always winter but never Christmas" during the Hundred Years' reign of Jadis, the only reason it's even mentioned there is for the reader's benefit, and to bridge the worlds. Christmas (as opposed to a hypothetical Feast Day of Aslan) would mean nothing to the native Narnians.

Dec. 20th, 2005 01:28 pm (UTC)
The Washington Post had a huge article today that fact-checked most of the examples held up as being anti-Christmas. Is anyone surprised to hear that much of what O'Reilly said was made out of whole cloth? The town banning red and green? Didn't happen. Replacing the lyrics to Silent Night with something secular? Part of a play written by a minister called "The Little Christmas Tree." Use of the words "holiday tree" and "holiday ornaments?" Something O'Reilly himself was guilty of until called out for it.

Now I see that O'Reilly has once again turned an accurate character assessment into a hate crime against himself - funny how he doesn't enumerate exactly what he's done for the poor, only blanket says he's done it... and that once again, somehow the "War on Christmas" is just as bad as what people over the world suffer. (I'll let my last post on the subject speak for itself.)
Dec. 20th, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC)
I just posted about this yesterday :D

I hold the position that, when in doubt, start generic and go specific if your conversational partner gives indications, particularly in Marketplace situations, which seems to be what a lot of the flap is about: if you're not sure, let the other person (customer?) specify what holiday(s) they care about. And Happy Holidays is always appropriate at this time of year, because in addition to all of the religious/cultural festivals, everyone who uses the Gregorian calendar at least a little bit has a New Year's coming.
Dec. 20th, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
public schools and Christmas
I don't watch Bill O'Reilly, so I don't know how much sensationalizing he's been doing, but I do know that in my brother and sister's public high school kids are being actively discouraged from mentioning "Christmas". The word "Christmas" has been taken out of all the programs, banners, everything and replaced with "Happy Holidays". They are given detailed descriptions of the celebration of other religions holidays, but no mention is made of the observance of Christmas. This is at my younger brother and sister's school, which is in a small town in KS. I've read news posts on the internet of far worse suppression of Christmas than that at other public schools around the country, to the extent of banning colors associated with Christmas, changing the words to traditional Christmas songs (even though they still sing song from other religions), and active discouragement of Christmas greetings between students. Most of these incidents come to the attention of the media because a parent is annoyed that his/her child is restricted from celebrating Christmastime as Christmas, or, because the ACLU finds out about a public school who ISN'T observing these restrictions and sues them. There are no restrictions on Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. (Posters are put up bearing those names for religious celebrations for this season). I'm certainly not saying there should be restrictions on those holidays, but why the restrictions on Christmas, and not on those? When did the idea of Christmas being offensive start? anybody know? Did anybody ever actually say "I'm offended by that" or did the ACLU just start suing on the basis of separation of church and state?
Dec. 20th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
I just read a previous comment from neadods on this subject, in which it is stated that the Washington Post fact-checked all those examples I just gave. I'd like to say, I didn't hear those things on O'Reilly, because as I said, I don't watch him (he's a warmonger). I read those stories on news sites from newspapers around the country. I suppose that all those different newspapers could have been lying (Maybe O'Rielly was feeding them stories), or maybe just one reporter for the Washington Post is (do they hire from the same pool as the the New York Times?:-P). Whatever the case, I have examples from closer to home than a bunch of newpapers from around the country. I think out of curiousity I should try to go visit an area school and see if I see any Christmas posters. If I get around to it I will post the results.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 21st, 2005 06:28 am (UTC)
Pope Benedict 16th's Christmas address notwithstanding, perhaps. Unfortunately, we Christians are not always any better at remembering the messages of Christmas, beyond a generic "peace on earth, goodwill towards men" (and tragically, not even that sometimes).

sui_degeneris calls it Giftmas, which is apropos when referring to the secular holiday that is observed by family gatherings, warm drinks, exchange of gifts, trimming of a tree, and decking of the halls - all of which can be great fun in their own right.

Dec. 21st, 2005 06:31 am (UTC)
People shouldn't be too extreme to the degree that immediately fire back at ones who just wished them well, especially they're in this country.

Anyway Merry Christmas to YOU ! Do you celebrate this New Year ?
Dec. 23rd, 2005 03:54 am (UTC)
See, to me, the problem is the whole "Christmas Season." Christmas is a single holiday (albeit a very important one in the Christian calendar) belonging to a single religion. (I would count all sects of Christianity falling under single religion, for this purpose.) I've heard a Jewish friend comment that Hanukkah is not a very big holiday from the Jewish perspective, so the popular emphasis can only be a reaction to the size of this Christmas thing. Kwanzaa was only recently invented, again in reaction to Christmas. All three holidays, then, seem quite fake to me. They're just excuses to buy obscene amounts of material goods and hold way too many parties.

If you want my Grinchy opinion, I'd say we scrap the whole "Christmas Season" and allow each religion to celebrate what it sees fit in a way that really honors that religion. And as a Christian, I will happily wish anyone a Merry Christmas unless they tell me otherwise. Honestly, it's not like I'd get upset if someone wished me Happy Hanukkah.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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