Friday, December 2, 2011

The annual 'War on Christmas' shows how a faith that once united America now divides it

Fox News has declared war on the “War on Christmas”. This happens every year: one crazy liberal tries to outlaw use of the word “Christmas” and Fox announces the coming of the Anti-Christ. The furore can sound cynical and shrill, but it illustrates how culturally divided the USA has become.

This year, Christmas has been stolen by Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee. Chafee is one of those rare old birds, a liberal Republican. And Republican liberals are the worst kind of liberals because they think they’ve got something to prove. In a display of tolerance that no one asked for, Chafee renamed the 17-foot blue spruce tree in his statehouse “the holiday tree”. Fox News was indignant. Anchor Steve Doocy pointed out that the holiday tree was bought on a Christmas tree farm. Not only that, but it looks an awful lot like a Christmas tree and it was erected in celebration of … Christmas. So why rename it? Doocy put a phone number up on screen and urged viewers to call Chafee to complain. “Give him a little surprise,” he said. “It’s just an hour and three minutes until the governor's office opens.”

Some people think that the War on Christmas is manufactured by a Right-wing media desperate for a story. The tree controversy started ignominiously back in November, when the Obama administration floated putting a tax on Christmas trees. It was actually an idea backed by the Christmas tree industry, which wanted to use the income to promote the buying of real trees over fake ones. In short, it was an entirely commercial proposition. But Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce wrote, “The fact is it was a tax meant to fund a board appointed by a federal agency targeting one religion and one religion only – Christianity.” Bruce claimed that the “precedent” for the fee was a Muslim “tax levied on non-Muslim citizens in the Islamic world.” Fox promoted Bruce’s article under the headline, “Obama’s War on Christianity Continues.” more