Everyone knows that Retail is the Reason for the Season.*
Everyone, that is, except the fanatics who think “Happy Holidays” is code for “Kill The Christians!“
This year’s war on the War on Xmas seemed to begin with Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who mounted his high horse to tell us he wouldn’t mount his parade horse this year in Tulsa because “Christmas” was missing from the title of the city’s annual Christmas event.
Well, despite Inhofe’s protest, and wind chills in the twenties, the McNellie’s Holiday Parade of Lights in Tulsa (the sponsor, McNellie’s, is, appropriately, an Irish pub) was full of Christmas cheer. And I enjoyed what one celebrant told the Tulsa World:
“It’s silly,” Lisa Williams said of the brouhaha that brought national media attention. “Oklahoma gets to be in the news for silly stuff.”
I would like to explain to Ms. Williams that the reason why Oklahoma is always in the news for silly stuff is because it is full of silly politicians and silly people who elect them. But now is not the time. It’s the holiday season, for God’s sake.
Just a few days ago, we had Gary Bauer joining in on the annual assault on good manners and inclusiveness, which is the war on the War on Xmas. Bauer, a Christian conservative fanatic, once ran for president of the United States on the Family Values Ticket, God being his running mate. Bauer began his column, aptly titled, “The Real War on Christmas,” this way:
Some will argue whether the would-be Christmas tree bomber intended to target Christians at the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Portland, Oregon last week. What’s beyond dispute is that the ideology that fueled his hatred, radical Islam, is targeting Christianity in a religious war meant to destroy the Judeo-Christian foundation of our country.
Okay. I know what you’re thinking: So what? That’s pretty standard stuff for right-wing Christians, some of whom believe 9/11 was not an attack on America generally, but specifically an attack on Our American Jesus. Of course, no reason is given why the terrorists didn’t just crash a jet into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest church in the United States and a mere seven miles from Ground Zero, but logic is not normally a feature of faith-inspired conspiracy theories.
In any case, here is Bauer’s next paragraph:
But the American jihadists are a little late to the war on Christianity. Radical Islam’s secular enablers have been driving Christianity from the public square for decades. Notice I said tree lighting – not Christmas tree. The tree in Portland has already been downgraded to a mere “Tree Lighting” by the liberal city fathers. There was no room for Christ on tree lighting night.
Now, before anyone gets upset over Bauer’s strange comparison of a terrorist’s desire to bomb Portland with a secular tree-lighting event, I want to be fair. Mr. Bauer told Gail Collins of the New York Times that the unseemly equivalence was just a tease:
To me, it was just a nice rhetorical way to get people to read the column.
Given that rationale, I suppose I should have started today’s blog post this way:
Gary Bauer, noted conservative Christian and anti-War on Christmas activist, was caught in bed with one of Osama bin Laden’s children, a boy named Muhammad.
Have a Merry War on Xmas everyone!
* The truth about Christmas is that despite what most people think, the holiday shopping season, although vital to retailers, is not a make-or-break moment for the economy as a whole. An informative post at DailyFinance by Charles Hugh Smith makes a couple of interesting points about how overstated is the importance of the holiday season:
• Holiday retail sales are a modest 3.4% of the entire U.S. economy. The U.S. GDP projects at $14.7 trillion for 2010, compared to total holiday retail sales in 2009 of $504 billion.
• “We often read that consumer spending is about 70% of the economy (some analysts say it is more like 60%), but the retail sector is only the “value added” part of retail sales. If we look at the entire retail sector of the economy, we find that it is 7.9% of the GDP, compared to a 21.4% share for the finance, insurance and real estate sector.”
And, although DailyFinance doesn’t mention this, I want to point out to all those Post Office-hating conservatives out there that the mailing industry—of which the Postal Service constitutes the vital center—represents about 8% of GDP, roughly the same as the ENTIRE retail sector. So there.