Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More on the "War on Christmas" nonsense

Readers of this blog will no doubt be shocked, yes, shocked to learn that many of the bloody shirts being waved by the right wing these last few weeks are, in fact, white as the driven snow, and crisply starched and pressed as well. This lengthy Washington Post article does something rare in this tempest in a teapot, which is -- wait for it -- actual reporting and fact-checking.

The school in Wisconsin that rewrote the words to "Silent Night?" Didn't happen:

The first thing we found out, contrary to both news releases, is that nobody at the school rewrote anything. The song is part of a copyrighted play. Really in-depth reporting -- making two phone calls -- revealed the offending playwright and composer to be one Dwight Elrich. No one had talked to him until we called.


"I'm just flabbergasted. I'm a choir director in a church! I do Christmas carols in retirement homes! I perform 'Silent Night' 40 or 50 times each year! I thought the play was a really charming, wonderful, positive story about love and acceptance . . . removing it from the Christian tradition was something I never thought anyone could ever come up with. We were telling a story about a little tree, so we used a familiar tune to help the kids get it."

The school in Texas that banned red and green? Didn't happen:

Here's a corresponding memo from Doug Otto, superintendent of schools for Plano:

"The school district does not restrict students or staff from wearing certain color clothes during holiday times or any other school days. . . . Our attorney requested of Mr. O'Reilly that, in the future, he ask his fact checkers to do a more thorough job of confirming the facts before he airs them."

O'Reilly did not correct his broadcast in a prepared statement, instead noting that there was ongoing litigation about other Christmas-related issues at the school.

And the gnashing of teeth over the ruination of Christmas has been going on for a very, very long time:

And there is one problem with that pristine image of the American Ghost of Christmas Past, he and others say: It never quite existed. "White Christmas" -- which became one of the best-selling songs of all time -- was already lamenting a season "just like the ones I used to know" in 1939. The same year, entrepreneur Charles Howard opened one of the first Santa Claus schools, dismayed by the cynical crush of "bums, ham actors, and thousands of odd job men" who were cashing in by playing the man in red.

Facts, of course, aren't going to sway the Christmas warriors, but it's nice to have them -- the facts, that is, not the Christmas warriors -- out there.

And on that note, posting will be intermittent-to-nonexistent until after Christmas. Happy Holidays!

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