happy holidays, dammit.
I was recently giving a talk at a conference in Sweden- the topic was 'prospects for progressives in the United States', a subject of great interest here at hoverbike. A key theme of the talk, as well as the discussion which followed, was the rise of fundamentalist political activism, and the debate over the role of "values" in American politics.
One audience member, a young warehouse worker and union activist said that he saw on Fox news (yes, it airs in Sweden) that liberals in America were trying to get rid of Christmas. I explained that this was a myth used by the far right to further denigrate the left. He seemed to understand.
What was scary about that exchange is that the effectiveness of the right is such that a Swedish trade unionist wearing a Chavez medallion and a Che t-shirt somehow bought the line that the American Left hates Christmas.
Chalk the "war on Christmas" boondoggle as one of the great achievements of right-wing rhetorical and ideological hegemony in contemporary America. Somehow, the commercialization of Christmas, which is driven by corporations and consumerism, is the fault of the left. It is our preference for secular public institutions and science-based science teaching which has led to the bonanza of consumption every Christmas season. Never mind that the majority of those folks out there bashing skulls to buy this year's Cabbage Patch doll are self-professed Christians.
Worse than that, attempts by state, cultural and commercial institutions to aknowlege that the Winter months include non-Christian holidays have been recast as an attack on Christianity. As a Christian, I like to hear people wish me happy Christmas. But it doesn't shake my faith in Jesus Christ to hear a holiday greeting which takes into account the millions of Americans who don't worship as I do. Is it too much to ask for Fundamentalists to share America?
Yesterday, a Southern California mall reversed a decision to take down a giant Menorah. They had originally felt that the Chanukah symbol was "overtly religious", while their 25 foot Christmas tree, angels and bells were not. A threatened boycott by local Jewish organizations changed their minds. Remember, Jewish symbols are religious. Christian symbols are regular.
Anyway, happy holidays.