Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What would Charlie Brown do?

The right-wing wailing and gnashing of teeth over the nonexistent "war on Christmas" (TM) continues this year without missing a beat from last year's nonsense. The latest perpetrator? George W. Bush:

Religious conservatives are miffed because they have been pressuring stores to advertise Christmas sales rather than "holiday specials" and urging schools to let students out for Christmas vacation rather than for "winter break." They celebrated when House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) insisted that the sparkling spectacle on the Capitol lawn should be called the Capitol Christmas Tree, not a holiday spruce.

Then along comes a generic season's greeting from the White House, paid for by the Republican National Committee. The cover art is also secular, if not humanist: It shows the presidential pets -- two dogs and a cat -- frolicking on a snowy White House lawn.

"Certainly President and Mrs. Bush, because of their faith, celebrate Christmas," said Susan Whitson, Laura Bush's press secretary. "Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths."

It's almost as if it's about good manners rather than using faith as a cudgel.

Coincidentally, tonight saw ABC air the only Christmas special I enjoy and the only one that deals with the true spirit of Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas. That was the special where Linus' heartfelt recitation of the Christmas story inspired Charlie Brown and, after a while, the other kids, and they celebrated Christ's birth by decorating a humble tree and singing a carol. That's where the special ends, and while we don't know what Charlie Brown and Snoopy and the rest of the gang did after their song, I really, really doubt they went out and screamed at shopkeepers for providing insufficient validation for their faith.

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