Or else it’s the latter, thinly disgused as the former.
I’m talking about Garrison Keillor’s recent screed in the Chicago Tribune against atheists, Jews, pagans, and others who would dare to besmirch the right and true practice of the Christmas holiday. In which he says, among other things:
Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that’s their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite “Silent Night.” If you don’t believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn “Silent Night” and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write “Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we’ll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah”? No, we didn’t.
Christmas is a Christian holiday — if you’re not in the club, then buzz off.
I usually like to cut people slack and think the best of them until proven otherwise, and I’d love to think that this was just horribly misfired satire on the very attitudes he’s apparently expressing. But this isn’t the first time Keillor’s expressed religious and other bigotry, and unless he comes out with a sincere, grovelling apology, I’m afraid no slack is forthcoming.
So here’s what I posted in the comments at the Tribune:
This is truly ugly.
Mr. Keillor, on what authority are you deciding for other people how they should celebrate Christmas? Who died and made you the Christmas police? And what has made you so ugly and hateful about it?
As others here [in the Tribune comments] have pointed out: traditions change, and many supposed Christmas traditions have actually been adopted from other sources. Which is as it should be: traditions should change to meet the needs of the people practicing it. And you don’t get to decide who those people are. The reality is that Christmas is a cultural holiday as well as a religious one. It’s a U.S. Federal holiday, for goodness’ sake. And as a non-believer, if I have to get Christmas shoved down my throat every year, I see no reason why I and my friends and family shouldn’t adopt its traditions to make them work for us. (If “Greensleeves” can be rewritten as the Christmas song “What Child Is This,” why can’t Silent Night be rewritten to make it more Unitarian?)
As for “spiritual piracy”: Christianity is overwhelmingly the dominant religion in Western culture. I am heartily sick of Christians acting like they’re being thrown to the lions every time they don’t get their way in everything.
And the crack about “lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year” is deeply ugly. Did you stop and think about what that would sound like before you wrote it?
I would have gone on for longer. Especially about cultural hegemony and Christianity being the dominant religious culture, and how being the dominant culture means you have to suck it up when other cultures adapt your traditions and put their own spin on it. And double especially about Christmas being a Federal holiday, and if he doesn’t want it secularized he shouldn’t expect it to get government recognition. And triple especially about the entitled ignorance of decrying other people “pirating” Christmas traditions when most Christmas traditions have been pirated from other cultures.
And a hundred times especially about the grotesquely ugly “lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys” crack. Which, frankly, I didn’t even know how to reply to, as it just left my mouth gaping in “Did he really say that?” aghastness.
But the Tribune comments limit people to 1400 characters. So I had to keep it concise. Merry Christmas, spiritual pirates!