There’s a lot going on nowadays — bailout begging, terrorism, transitions, etc. Rightbloggers, their political champions largely sidelined, have no posse with which to ride to the barricades, but still rock their customary hobby-horses furiously, though with less than usual pleasure.
When, for example, Obama proposed a large public works project, widely described as a modern “New Deal,” they rose to denounce not only Obama but also that bastard FDR. The WPA “was bureaucratic, inefficient… a work-to-welfare program,” wrote Ed Morrissey; what was, and is, needed instead is “privatization.” Commentary also decried Roosevelt’s “Keynesian fairytale.” “Like the FDR administration,” said Lew Rockwell, “the Obama administration will make sure that jobs will depend heavily upon one’s political connections.” “It appears that Barack Obama wants to replay the Rooseveltian disaster,” agreed Classically Liberal. This Roosevelt sounds like quite a fuck-up; how did he ever win four Presidential elections?
Such cavils are but cold comfort, and even their laugh-of-the-week at a looney Obama painting turned out to be a joke they had misperceived. So the warmest rightblogger action was to be found in the dear old culture wars. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s December, trees are being trimmed, and the stores are hanging holiday gee-gaws and appealing to gift shoppers. You know what that means: time for the War on Christmas!
The state of Washington allowed an atheist plaque to co-exist with a creche at the capitol. “Olympia’s War on Christmas” was declared by Fox’s On the Scene blog, which also told us that “the Pacific Northwest is the most unchurched part of the country,” referred to the “plaque of holiday hatred,” and reported that “The phone lines at the governor’s office have been lit up” before concluding that “it appears to many here that the atheists are the angry, intolerant ones.” The later theft of the sign by apparent non-atheists seemed to cool the controversy somewhat.
But never mind, here’s another: did you know Costco hates Christmas? It uses the word “holiday” in its signage instead, which proved to Subtle oak flavor that Costco CEO James Sinegal is a “stormtrooper for the anti-Christmas movement,” and “with the Democrat win in November, Sinegal now sees an opportunity to utterly remove Christians, Christianity, and Christmas from the public square. Other liberal CEOs are watching.” The author asked, “Will you let this anti-Christian bigot win? Or will the spirit of tolerance prevail?” which apparently means a boycott, like the one sponsored by the American Family Association, which has an enemies-of-Christmas list that includes Barnes & Noble (“offers ‘Holiday Gift Guide.’ Christmas not found at website”), the Gap (“stores avoid using Christmas at every opportunity, being a very secular company”), Staples (“Staples’ press release referred to ‘holiday’ 13 times without a single mention of Christmas”) and others.
Christmasists spread the message. “Even if you don’t shop at Costco, or don’t intend to stop shopping at Costco, you can still send them the message!!” said Sally’s Blog. “I did.” “I have just discontinued my Costco membership,” announced The True Meaning of Christmas.
One in Jesus made a little “overheard” play out of the controversy to demonstrate that Costco is but the thin end of the secularist wedge. “Did you hear?” said one shopper. “Costco has told its stores — all 520 of them — not to use the word ‘Christmas’! I’m so outraged.” “But don’t they hear it at school?” asked her fellow shopper. “‘No,’ the first woman said, “the school is having a ‘Winter pageant’ — they refuse to say ‘Christmas,’ too. It’s as though the name of Jesus has become dirty.” Shopper #1 also informed Shopper #2 that even at her church’s Sunday school, kids are told that “Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. Everyone knows that! Christmas is just a Christianized, materialistic version of the old Roman Saturnalia holiday. We’d never talk about Christmas at church. It would be wrong!”
From this alarming news that Sunday schools mock the birth of Christ, we might conclude that the War on Christmas is actually over, and that atheism has triumphed. But the Christmasists have won some skirmishes — at Florida Gulf Coast University, according to the Defend Christmas website, it’s now “safe to say Merry Christmas” — or, if you believe mainstream news sources, the school has reversed a ban on all holiday decorations including Santa Claus, who as far as we know was not present in the manger with Jesus on December 25, 0 A.D.
Well, there’s still the War on Christmas Trees to be fought at the libraries of the University of North Carolina. Of course, if you do have a tannenbaum and it’s got Obama on it, expect rough treatment from even Christmas fans.
For those who prefer their culture war with a little more entertainment value, there was the Funny Or Die Prop 8 mini-musical with lots of celebs, including Jack Black as (to quote the unamused chairman of the Christian Anti-Defamation League) “a sarcastic, rotund Christ” who “distorts the Bible and condones shameful, homosexual acts.”
Jesus people were predictably annoyed. “Martin Luther King would have never condoned this type of protest or characterization of an ‘opponent,'” claimed Randy Thomas. (We somehow missed MLK’s denunciation of Purlie Victorious.) Perpetua of Carthage denounced gay Biblical scholarship, then quoted a “formerly sexually active gay man” who compared gay sex to cannibalism. “All the different Jesuses… stand ever ready to make their followers comfortable in their sin,” said Take Up Your Cross. “No harsh words will ever be spoken, no one told the truth of their terrible condition. Not one person will be warned of the consequences of their rebellion.” Maybe in the sequel!
Slaughter of the Sheep advised boycott. “I also refuse to pay these people for their wickedness,” she says. “Take note of the people who are in this video. Are any of your favorite actors involved?” (Maybe the American Family Association can make a new list.)
But standard-issue rightbloggers came down hard, too. Michelle Malkin asked her flock to make “the other Prop 8 musical” — one that shows “angry activists storming restaurants and Mormon temples, hectoring elderly people over their signs, and hounding donors large and small until they pay off their tormentors in the name of tolerance.” Doesn’t sound very musical-comedy to us, but if Malkin appears dressed as a cheerleader we’ll watch it.
National Review‘s Mark Steyn first thought the thing was aimed at Mormons, rather than religious folk in general; when corrected, he groused that the Prop 8 supporters were wearing “the stereotypical Garb of the Uptight,” whereas in real life “many of them dress in the same bright, life-affirming colors as the smiley-faced gays stage left.” For a musical comedy enthusiast Steyn doesn’t know much about staging.
He also asked why the authors didn’t focus on black and Hispanic Prop 8 supporters rather than the religious right. But as our scan has shown, it’s the Jesus people who feel most strongly about it, and even in victory are most entertainingly stung when ribbed about it. And preachers and salvationists are musical dynamite: has Steyn never seen Finian’s Rainbow, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, On The Twentieth Century? Political decisions may over time swing both ways, but fun beats no fun every time.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 8, 2008