The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights placed a costly advertisement in the op-ed section of the New York Times declaring that “cultural fascists” are preparing to destroy Christmas again this year. Catholic League President William Donohue writes:
There is something sick about Friendship Trees, Winter Solstice Concerts, Holiday Parades and Holly Day Festivals. The neutering of Christmas extends to the banishment of Nativity Scenes from the public square, the expulsion of baby Jesus from crèches not otherwise forbidden, the banning of red and green at school functions, the censoring of “Silent Night” at municipal concerts, etc.
(It’s worth noting that these latter two examples apparently refer to accusations made by Fox News hosts and Religious Right figures last year that turned out to be bogus – see here and here.) Last year, Donohue developed a brief boycott against Wal-Mart, and had another “beef” with Land’s End, for the use of those retailers of the phrase “Happy Holidays” in their promotional material rather than the supposedly more potent expression “Merry Christmas.”
This year, the group has set up a “Christmas Watch,” compiling alleged violations of the spirit (if not the letter) of Christmas law. “Grinches” include a mail-order catalog that sells a “Cat Nativity” scene and thieves who stole a man’s nativity scene from his front yard in Greenfield, Pennsylvania.
Whipping up a paranoid conspiracy theory of a “War on Christmas” is becoming something of an annual, festive tradition on the Right. While nobody is “banning” Christmas, right-wing groups can at least attack retailers, school administrators, and others whose yuletide cheer doesn’t cut muster. But what’s unusual about Donohue’s Times ad is the strange argument he makes to convince people not to say things like “Happy Holidays” – a seasonal greeting used not only as shorthand for “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” but also as a way to express kind sentiments to those who celebrate other days. According to Donohue, one should make a point of impoliteness – excluding people is the reason for the season, apparently, and it is also the true meaning of “diversity”:
To be excluded is normal. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Black History Month, Gay Pride Parades—they all exclude someone. The Olympic Games are a showcase of segregation—men are barred from women’s sports—yet not even radical feminists call it sexist. Should all of these holidays and events be banned because some feel excluded?
By celebrating Christmas we are celebrating diversity. Don’t let the cultural fascists get their way this year.