By Rob Boston
Thanksgiving is tomorrow followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a weekend of leftovers in between, so this looks like a good time for an update on the “War on Christmas.”
It’s over. We won.
To be more accurate, I should point out that it’s not possible to win a war that was never really waged. And there never was a war on Christmas. The “war” was a figment of the Religious Right’s imagination all along, or, more accurately, a cynical creation designed to help theocratic groups raise funds, win new support and get their names in the media.
Several Religious Right groups rode that reindeer hard for several years, but let’s face it – the run is over. No one cares anymore. Even the Fox News Channel has lost interest.
Nevertheless, the American Family Association continues to man the battle trenches. But even the group’s whining and calls for boycotts aren’t attracting much interest these days. In fact, the “war” has pretty much devolved into an occasion for the AFA to hawk buttons, signs, stickers and other pro-Christmas gewgaws to its supporters. (I'm including a grammatically challenged pop-up ad that has been on the AFA site for weeks now.)
That doesn’t mean the AFA isn’t trying to resume hostilities. In fact, the group has been blasting forth emails about the mythical war on the yuletide since before Halloween. But the stuff is just lame. The other day I received the latest AFA salvo: seems the Walgreens drug store chain put out an entire flier that never once mentioned the word “Christmas.”
“It’s true!” blared the AFA. “At Walgreens, they advertise ‘Holiday Candy,’ ‘Holiday Gift Tags,’ ‘Holiday Gift Wrap,’ ‘Holiday Decor,’ ‘Holiday Accessories,’ ‘Holiday Nuts and Snacks’ and ‘Holiday Hats and Stockings.’ But no Christmas! In total, Walgreens used the term ‘holiday’ 36 times, rather than using ‘Christmas.’”
It’s sad, isn’t it? Some poor soul at the AFA actually had to sit down and count the number of times “holiday” appeared in a newspaper circular. I know times are tough, but this sounds like the worst job ever. I’d sooner sign on as an articled clerk for Ebenezer Scrooge.
Unfortunately, all of that counting of the word “holiday” is for naught. More and more retailers are getting wise to the AFA’s empty boycott threats. For months now, the Tupelo, Miss.-based band of theocrats has been pouring disdain on Home Depot, which has dared to reach out to the gay and lesbian community with targeted advertisements.
The AFA declared a fatwa – I’m sorry, boycott – against Home Depot. The response to that has been higher profits for the company. (It’s true this is due in part to some bad fall storms in certain parts of the country that damaged many homes, but that raises an interesting theological question: Why did God allow these storms to occur, knowing that Home Depot would likely benefit? Maybe God is trying to tell the AFA something.)
The AFA is still releasing its “Naughty & Nice” list of retailers, if anyone actually cares. My guess is that during this holiday season, only the most ardent fundamentalists are going to be hoarding store circulars and counting up the number of times the word “Christmas” appears.
In this tough economy, the rest of us are going to be scrutinizing a different part of those fliers: the sale prices.
P.S. To the entire staff of the American Family Association and all of its supporters I’d like to say, “Season’s Greetings.”