Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sympathy for the Devil--just once--would be great

War on Christmas? Oh, man, give me a break. Sometimes it's just astonishing how preposterous Republican talking points are. They don't even bother to remove the sneer. You wonder just how bottomless Karl Rove's supply of bogus issues is. You can't get any more cynical than to claim that Christmas is being squelched here in America by liberal political-correctness police.

OK, take Christmas music. Heard any music celebrating Christmas lately? Unless you have been confined to your house since Thanksgiving, the answer is yes. I walked out of a Border's bookstore the other day without buying the book I was looking at because I could not bear to listen to hear Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas one more time. (Alas, I am unable to walk out of my local supermarket for the same reason, unless I am prepared to go without food until December 26.) My walking out had _nothing_ to do with my being a liberal. Now I am not a particularly prescriptive person about public music, though I do wish businesses did not think that they have a duty to entertain me, and possibly cajole me to buy stuff, by playing in-store music which, if played to prisoners in Guantanamo against their will, would be one more violation of the Geneva Conventions. I try to tune it out. But sometimes you just can't.

The right-wing Christian view of my wish to not hear music I don't like in public places is that it abridges _their_ rights. What? Hello? This is a peculiar view, to put it mildly--kind of like someone saying that my failure to remove my face from the path followed by their fist is an abridgment of their right to perform karate blows in the air.

I am a very liberal person. No doubt about it. So I ask myself if I would suppress Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas being played in commercial contexts, if I had to power--like if I were dictator, or your normal dictator-like god. My honest answer is no. I might demand equal time on the public airwaves for non-christian classics like, say, Sympathy for the Devil, but if a storeowner wants to drive me out of his place of business with his choice of music, as far as I am concerned that's his business. Maybe I am wrong, but I think most liberals feel the same way.

And insofar as Christmas has evolved into a healthy winter vacation for a lot of people who would otherwise not get time off from work, I think that's great. Even if they are Hindus or Wiccans.

Certainly, nobody has ever kept a politician running for reelection from saying Merry Christmas to friends, neighbors, and constituents. Who would even try? Personally, I don't even care if they send out Christmas cards using taxpayer money--I am a lot more offended by members of Congress using tax money to promote the plunder of the Arctic wildlife refuge or the Front Range via their newsletters, than I am by my senators wishing me merry christmas paid for out of their franking-privilege budget. Most liberals, I should hope, even the most avidly secular, have enough of a perspective about what's important in the world to share this priority of lesser versus greater evils.

So nobody is suppressing Christmas.

What does this even mean? And who even believes it?

Each and every time a new Republican talking point makes its astonishing appearance, I tell myself that they can't get any more absurd and and contemptuous of the intelligence of the public than this. And I am always wrong.

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