Happy Festivus!

Why I’m for the War on Christmas

The battle, says Bill O’Reilly, has been won by his Fox News-watching, god-fearing side. Not only is he wrong—but the true patriots are the ones standing up for pluralism in America.

Greg Vote/Corbis

“I have no idea how many elves would remain loyal to Santa Claus, but given the open terrain, you would probably want to surround Santa’s workshop with at least a company of Army Rangers before sending in a team from one of our special missions units to capture or kill Santa himself.”

— Andrew Exum, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what America would have to do in an actual war on Christmas

And the bells chimed for victory at 1211 Avenue of the Americas.

The so-called War on Christmas, says overpaid bloviator Bill O’Reilly, has been won by his god-fearing, flag-flourishing side.

“We won the war,” the Fox News personality proclaimed last week. “I have to confess, you know, I’m like a guerrilla fighter in the War on Christmas…We did this War on Christmas thing for about 10 years. This is the first year I didn’t get one call or letter saying, ‘This store has said it won’t say [“Merry Christmas”].’”


O’Reilly is right about one thing: This year’s Fox News coverage of the War on Christmas, which he and his colleagues (and many on the Christian right) have been waging for years now, has been less ragingly hysterical than previous years. It was just 12 months ago that the network was losing its mind over Black Santa and a Festivus pole erected near a nativity scene on public property. (“Am I to understand that some humanoid expressed outrage that the baby Jesus was behind a pole made of beer cans?” Dan O’Keefe, who co-wrote the Seinfeld episode that gave the world Festivus, said at the time in response.)

It has long been a battle cry in conservative circles that Christmas is under siege. The ACLU and its allies are trying to undermine the holiday with lawsuits and annoying billboards. Public space is crowded with offensive, trolling Satanism in December. Mega-stores are forcing employees into the secular indignity of greeting customers with “Happy Holidays” in lieu of “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!” Pundits, activists, and potential 2016 presidential candidates would have you believe that political correctness is annually nut-punching Jesus.

But these are all things that every patriotic American should celebrate.

To start, there is no “war” on Christmas in the United States. There has been some mild to moderate cultural and legal pushback against the absurd notion that a Christian majority has somehow earned a monopoly over the month of December. But if that is the low bar for defining a war, then I hope the draft is reinstated.

It should go without saying that none of this pushback is to chase Christianity or Jesus’s birthday out of American life. Anyone who walks the streets of a city, major or small, during the month of December knows that there is no such threat. Whenever “angry atheists” seek to keep nativity scenes from being the exclusive religious display in state capitols during the holidays, they are standing up for the principle that the state does not, and should not, have the right to endorse one faith over the others. The United States was not founded as a Christian nation, no matter how many zealots wish it had been.

Whenever a group of nonbelievers attempts to broadcast that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t born on December 25, all they are doing is promoting historical fact.

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Whenever a major chain like Macy’s opts to use “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas,” it is merely making a business decision to be more inclusive, recognizing that many of its customers observe the season’s other holidays. However pointless or slight a gesture that is, any corporate decision based on the acknowledgement and acceptance of diversity in America is objectively an admirable one.

And without the War on Christmas, we would miss out on energetic spurts of pluralism, free expression, and Pop Art such as the “crucified skeleton Santa of Leesburg, Virginia.

Capitalism. Inclusiveness. Commitment to truth. Freedom of expression. Secular democracy. Respect and forums for minority opinions.

These are the pillars that define what has come to be known as the War on Christmas—and these six values have made modern America strong.

Happy Festivus.