Monday, December 27, 2004

Merry Holiday

Jerome Copulsky, an assistant professor of Judaic Studies at Virginia Tech. and a friend of mine, pokes fun at Bill O'Reilly in a Salon article. Not only is it always enjoyable to witness the flaying of this bloated windbag, but in this case it is notable because Jerome takes on the latest obsession of the Christian soldiers in the rightwing culture-war: the preservation of Christmas traditions in the public domain such as the use of the phrase "merry Christmas" and the display of mall decorations. It is about time someone with a real understanding of Christmas dealt with this issue--in this case, a Jewish theologian.

On a related matter, I am with Kevin Drum. Regardless of the merits of the rightwing's case (which turns out to be ironically self-defeating, as you will see if you read Jerome's article), the remarkable feature of this whole saga is how quickly O'Reilly and his epigones can spread a meme like this "secularist destruction of Christmas" one. These things are seemingly easy to drum up. Why can't we do the same with the all-too-real "Republicans want to eat your lunch, i.e., retirement plan," which seems to be the true story behind Social Security reform and tax reform? Apparently, it involves making outrageous claims which render the general point reasonable by comparison. For example, here is a bit from an LA Times article on the subject:
Conservative Americans feel ready to push back against "the secularists or the humanists or the elitists" who dominate popular culture, said the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, which is based in Raleigh.

"It's a cultural war. We are in the thick of it," Creech said. "It's not so much an attack on us. It's an attack on Christ."

...."There's one group of people who get bullied all the time, and that's Christians," [Pastor Patrick Wooden] said. "I know what it is like to be bullied. It is apartheid in reverse — the majority is being bullied by the minority."
The poor persecuted Christians in America--it's just like apartheid or maybe the Third Reich in reverse. I wonder if Jerome, the elitist-secularist-humanist Jew, has a response to that.


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