The Right’s ‘Plastic Indignation’ over Christmas

We’re not the only ones, of course, who see through the political manipulation behind the right’s phony “war on Christmas” hysteria. John Young, former head of the editorial page at the Waco Tribune-Herald, offers his take on the “plastic indignation” over “Happy Holidays” and other alleged anti-Christmas outrages:

Outraged over a holiday greeting? Get real. Real Christians can find real outrages out there on the windblown streets, in the soup kitchens, in prisons, in struggling-to-get-by nursing homes, where Medicaid reimbursement rates are life-and-death matters.

Name your phony spiritual concern — that school pageants are too secular today, that local governments seek to treat the holidays in pluralistic ways. The same applies to retailers. They have Jews celebrating Hanukkah this month, as well as with adherents of Kwanzaa, and non-Christians of many stripes who just like the pretty lights and are in the mood for egg nog. They are customers. They are Americans. A business, or a nation, or a school district or city hall that doesn’t serve all of these people is running a fool’s errand.

Some Americans don’t get the whole secular nature of the American experience and never will. This nation was born as a refuge from sectarianism. Its First Amendment protections against the latter have made it the most religion-friendly construct in the history of self-governance.

Yet you have Rick Perry telling Iowa voters that “war” is being waged against Christians. Talk about plastic indignation.

I lived in Texas for a long time — Perry’s neck of the North American woods. To say that Christians, particularly the conservative, evangelical, Republican kind, are oppressed is to insinuate that the Dallas Cowboys play in a cardboard shack.

What Perry really says with this “war on Christianity” pitch to Republicans is that he doesn’t buy the notion that government should be neutral regarding faith. He thinks its job is to exalt and advertise a majority’s piety.

Read the whole thing here. And if you’ve been missing Young’s insightful columns since he left Waco, now you know where to find him.

5 thoughts on “The Right’s ‘Plastic Indignation’ over Christmas

  1. “Happy Holidays” has been around for quite some time. I always understood it to refer to Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day (and maybe Boxing Day). A quick search of Google Books shows the term being used back in the 1860s. I didn’t do a comprehensive scan of the results, it most likely was used before then too.

  2. Absolutely, blues cat. Not to mention that many times people say “happy holidays” to include the new year, because they may not see each other in the week between them So why is that a big deal? Answer: it isn’t.

  3. You are absolutely correct; the greeting is hardly new! Irving Berlin wrote “Happy Holidays” for the movie “Holiday Inn” in 1942. The recordings of this song have been played at this time of year by artists such as Perry Como, Percy Faith, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Jackie Gleason, Peggy Lee, Barry Manilow (in a medley with “White Christmas”), Jo Stafford, and Andy Williams…hardly attackers of Christian beliefs.

    Since I work internationally, and only 1/3 the world is Christian, coupled with so many other celebrations taking place this time of year among people of other faiths and cultural beliefs, I find the greeting very “inclusive”…I think God would like that! However to consider the greeting as an attack on Christianity, is so preposterous, that it steals all credibility from any other topic they should care to discuss. Like Jesus suggested, “If one cannot be trusted in small matters, how can they be trusted in large matters.” Indeed, they should be more careful in picking their battles…to feign insult dishonors their real concerns.