The Autumning Empire

Culture, Politics, Etc.

The Real War On Christmas

o'reilly xmas“You Killed Jesus.” Guess what group is being targeted in this spiteful piece of holiday vandalism. Could it be pagan imperialists of the 1st century? The descendants of Pontius Pilate? The ghost of a Roman centurion? Nope. Want to know who killed Jesus? I’ll tell you: it’s the Jews. All of them. Past, present, and future; orthodox, conservative, and reformed; Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, and Sephardic. You name it; they did it. All must bear the shameful stain of this unforgivable act of historical deicide.

Welcome to the Season of Hate. On December 1, Chabad House’s enormous seashell dreidel and menorah were vandalized in Miami Beach, Florida; the aforementioned three-word indictment was scrawled in black paint on this beloved Hanukah display.  That same weekend, near Palm Beach, a swastika was painted at Temple Beth Torah; the accompanying anti-Semitic rhetoric was so offensive that the networks chose not to quote it. Even though Pope Benedict XVI – himself a former member of the Hitler Youth – assured his flock as late as 2011 that Jews in fact are not responsible for the death of his beloved Messiah, there are some medieval customs that just won’t die. Have a Merry Christmas, America, and long live the pogrom.

Now you’d think that with his staunch commitment to “Judeo-Christian culture,” a guy like Bill O’Reilly would be warning us about a “War on Hanukah.” Yet a mere five days after a local Fox affiliate had reported the “You Killed Jesus” story, O’Reilly asked us: “Is there a growing anti-Christian bias in America?” as the intro to one of the network’s innumerable reports on The War on Christmas. Jeanine Pirro and Gretchen Carlson, O’Reilly’s fawning sycophants for the day, all but drooled in their mikes as they answered the affirmative: apparently there are some people who just don’t like Christmas.

Like everything else on Fox, this piece would be funny, except that it isn’t. I think my favorite part is Carlson’s outrage over the City of Santa Monica’s ban on nativity scenes public parks, which she claims (without citation) arises from complaints of “less than one percent” of the population. “I don’t remember any of these complaints growing up!” she wails indignantly, “I don’t remember any of them!”

Gretchen 2

 Yes, Ms. Carlson, it’s true. Even though you are paid by Fox to think and act like a child, as a 46 year old woman, you are no longer a child. The halcyon days of the mid-1970s have fallen like leaves from the tree, a civilization gone with the wind. But like Scarlett O’Hara before her, Gretchen is not going down without a fight, and neither are her offspring:  “What will my children be fighting for?” she cries. “I already have to say, ‘Hey! Way off in the back seat, waaaay off yon in the yonder you can see baby Jesus.'” Those poor children are so religiously oppressed that they are now forced to seek out salvation in the backseat of Gretchen Carlson’s car.

What the former Miss America and Fox don’t mention in their fact free piece is that when it comes to the attack on Christianity, it’s coming from inside the house! In America today religion itself is on the decline. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five American adults claim no religious affiliation at all. While the numbers of atheists and agnostics are on the rise (hey! did I just write a headline for Fox?) they remain statistically insignificant at 2.4% and 3.3%, respectively. It turns out that the largest share of religiously unaffiliated Americans aren’t even comfortable with the term “agnostic”; 13.9% opt for the category of “nothing in particular.” Does that mean that America is becoming more secular? Not necessarily. 68% of the unaffiliated express a belief in God, and 58% describe “a deep connection with the Earth.” At issue, then, is not the concept of a higher power, but with how current religions define it:

With few exceptions…the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.

But O’Reilly and his fellow culture warriors can comfort themselves with the fact that 73% of the American population is Christian. That’s pretty good, isn’t it? Not if you look at the trends. That figure represents a 5% drop in a period of just as many years. You want a Fox News headline? Try this: Christianity in America is Shrinking.

And yet the yuletide continues to thrive. “There’s a ‘War on Christmas’? Somebody tell Thanksgiving!” rails The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. “Because this year Black Friday…got moved back to Black Thursday, or as we used to call it Thanksgiving. Christmas is so big now, it’s eating other holidays.” Stewart then launches into one of his glorious litanies, demonstrating the obnoxious ubiquitousness of America’s favorite holiday:

(There are) Mormon Christmas specials, country-western Christmas specials, chipmunk Christmas specials, otter Christmas specials, bear Christmas specials, cat Christmas specials, large headed child Christmas, gay Christmas, Jewish Christmas (in a nod to Neil Diamond), Christmas underwater, Christmas from the future, pre-historic Christmas. That’s right, there’s a Christmas special that celebrates the birth of Jesus…thousands of years before the birth of Jesus.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-december-3-2012/the-war-on-christmas–friendly-fire-edition

FlinstonesStewart’s last mention of The Flintstones Christmas hearkens back to an earlier joke in the segment. “For Fox News, the war on Christmas has become a rote observance devoid of all its original spiritual meaning.” Ever since Charlie Brown bemoaned the holiday’s commercialization, people have been saying the same of the Christmas itself. And yet we continue to buy. In the face of boycotts and protests, Walmart claimed “busiest ever Black Friday.” The National Retail Federation estimates an overall 4.1% increase from last year in holiday sales, projecting $586 billion in overall revenue. That’s an awful lot of Hanukah candy.

In reality, the war is not on Christmas, or even Christianity, but on the birthday boy himself. I realize that questions such as “What Would Jesus Do?” or “What Would Jesus Think?” may seem all but impossible to answer, but a cursory look at the Gospels gives us a pretty clear picture of His view on material wealth and the lust of acquisition:

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10: 17-22)

 And just in case we’re confused about it, Jesus spells it out just a few verses later: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10: 25)

Yeah, but guess what? I’m not rich. I’m middle class.

Well…it turns out that I’m not. According to the website globalrichlist.com, I’m in the top 4.62% of income earners on the planet. The fact that I have a home, running water, a TV set, automobile, several pairs of clothes, healthcare, and an expendable income that allows me to buy Christmas gifts makes me an incredibly wealthy man. (Check out the site to see how rich you are.)

The next time you’re online or out at the mall looking to buy yourself some Brut aftershave or the Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Death Star Game or the Nikon 1 J1 camera or the iPad mini or the Kindle Fire HD (with its gazillionth chapter of The Game of Thrones series) or the Enzo Anglioni Women’s Vicso Riding Boots or a polyester backyard pink castle princess tent or the John Travolta Olivia Newton-John album, you might want to ask yourself: what does any of this have to do with Jesus?Here’s a guy who spent his entire life working with the deeply impoverished. Jesus healed the sick, and made sure that hungry people had plenty to eat. Luke’s original Christmas story itself is a parable of hope against cruel, unimaginable poverty. Jesus’ origins were so humble that once, when trying to preach, he was berated with the catcall: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” His antagonism to religious displays of wealth was so intense that less than a week before his execution, he disrupted the commerce of the merchants in the temple, Jerusalem’s holiest of holy sites, by turning over the very tables where they sold their precious wares. It is the only time Jesus ever used physical force. I guess he must have been pretty upset.

So Happy Birthday, Jesus! As a way of saying thank you for being the savior of mankind, I’m giving my sister in law $50 gift certificate to Bed Bath and Beyond. What do you think; is that too tacky?

To say that the holidays have become too secular entirely misses the point. Christmas is the holiest of holy days for America’s number one religion: capitalism. Even the left wing social engineers like our president extol the talismanic “power of the free market.” Our belief in capitalism’s virtue is so paradigmatic, so deep and unshakable, that we can not even bring ourselves to ask our government to follow most European countries, and do what Jesus did almost every day of his life: provide free healthcare.

Christians often forget that Jesus himself was a Jew. As for those particular Jews who wanted him dead, they were Roman collaborators, a fact that secular history and the canonical Gospels make abundantly clear to anyone who cares to read them. Crucifixion was a special and unusually grizzly form of public capital punishment. And whatever role “the Jews” may have played, Caiaphas, Annas, and even Herod didn’t have the authority to put a man to death. That task fell to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, second in the region only to Caesar. Jesus was killed by the Romans, and drew his last breath as a Jew.

There’s a curious moment at the end of the Fox segment. Just as O’Reilly and Carlson are about are about to end the piece, Jeanine Pirro, the network’s, um…legal analyst, blurts out a non-sequitur she appears to have been bottling up during the entire analysis. Apparently the First Amendment’s separation clause regarding religion and state applies only to Christians

If you add a menorah, the Supreme Court says that’s ok! 

pirro

It’s an ugly moment, not to mention entirely unsubstantiated, one that O’Reilly and Carlson leave lie when signing off. I’d like to think that their silence signifies an a private disagreement with this slur, but I suspect that it’s something more sinister. Last year, Fox Latin America had to apologize for an online poll asking, “Who Do You Think Is Responsible for the Death of Jesus?” Responders were given a number of choices, one of which was “The Jewish People.” Complaints from the Simon Wiesenthal center helped trigger the poll’s removal.

While there is absolutely no evidence, and virtually no probability, that anyone on The O’Reilly Factor created this defamatory poll, Pirro’s remarks at the end of the program bring us back to the place where we started. Jews get special privileges. They are not persecuted, we Christians are. The Jews get things that We don’t. They are the beneficiaries of a system that is incomprehensibly stacked up against Us. When it comes to the War on Christmas, there is surely an Axis of Evil, and on one of its points is a pernicious special interest group hell bent on persecuting Christians.

The Jews did not crucify Jesus, but the bigotry and hatred  of Florida’s vandals and the folks at Fox News are killing him every day. I don’t know the names of the people who damaged the Hanukah displays. But since Jeanine Pirro trumpets her Christian faith from the hilltop of Fox News Studios, I have, for her and her many followers, this special yuletide greeting:

Repent. Cast off the wickedness of your false idols and craven images. Fall upon your knees and beg forgiveness from your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Renew the vows of your baptism by rejecting Satan and all of his works. Love the Lord your God above all others, and love your neighbors – Christians, Atheists, and even Jews – as yourself. Practice kindness, compassion, and patience. Renounce the path of hatred, and joyfully proclaim the Good News of Christ’s love and redemption throughout the whole of all mankind.

And if not, please do us a favor and shut the fuck up. Stop pretending that you’re being persecuted. You’re part of the dominant culture; enjoy it, for God’s sake! Use the salary that Fox so generously pays you and buy your family Christmas presents – tons of them. And be grateful that you live in a country that gives you the freedom to worship in the religion of your choice. Use this time of Christmas to pay homage to the godheads of Commodity, Profit, and the almighty Power of the Free Market – America’s lords and deities, gods and rulers of The Autumning Empire.

David Berkson

December 11, 2012

Don’t forget to “like” The Autumning Empire on Facebook. You can contact David Berkson at davidberkson66@gmail.com, or @DavidBerkson on Twitter.

Always feel free to post a comment and get a discussion going. Don’t feel bashful about starting a vigorous and healthy debate.

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3 thoughts on “The Real War On Christmas

  1. Excellent article. Had to cut and paste a piece of it on my Soul-Centered link. You’re a really good writer, David, smart, informed and funny. Can’t beat that.

  2. Ram Dass: “If you don’t have a sense of humor, life just isn’t funny.”

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