Merry humbug

I don’t have much Christmas spirit left. There hardly seems much point when you’ve got no religion and your kids have grown up and moved away, and so many of the aunts and uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters you used to share a groaning table with have gone and died. It’s mainly a wistful echo of a holiday to me anymore.

There’s still one thing to bring me a little Christmas joy, though. No matter how depressed I might get, I’ll never get as bitter and spiteful and nasty over the holidays as a conservative Christian. Behold, I bring to you the gift of Kevin Sorbo and some well-fleshed grinning skulls at Newsmax sharing their gift of ludicrous resentment.

President Joe Biden talks about the Christmas myth of following a star to a child, the Son of God, bringing hope, joy, and peace. At his speech at the lighting of the national Christmas tree, he says the banned (according to Trump, anyway) word “Christmas” a half dozen times, and says “God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.” Yet smug announcer claims he was dancing around to avoid the religious sentiment, and the other one claims it was empty of the meaning of Christmas, and Kevin Sorbo responds by claiming the Democrats are hypocrites for not mentioning Jesus and leaving Christ out…and then plugs his new movie a couple of times.

Don’t worry, they move on to the true meaning of the holiday, which is about buying toys for the kids and complaining about teenagers and their cell phones.

That made me feel better about this cold dismal holiday. We’ve won the War on Christmas, and our opposition is reduced to joyless, bitter anger over their own holiday.

All right! I’ll now leave with the gift of advice: the most important thing for weathering the current icy cold is…warm dry socks. Keep your feet warm and you’ll feel so much better. I speak from experience — I went for a walk yesterday in the -25°C air with 30mph winds, a bad idea, I tell you, and a chill settled into the bones of my feet that made me miserable all day long. Be smarter than me!

The War on Christmas — are we the baddies?

It’s December First, time to resume the battle. Except, uh-oh, there are some uncomfortable associations with my side in the battle. You know, we atheists aren’t trying to get rid of Christmas — we like parties — we’re just trying to escape the religious implications of the season.

Who else tried to remove the Christian element from the holiday? Hitler, that’s who.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis did their best to transform Germany’s beloved Christmas traditions into Nazi ones. Though Hitler’s attempts to create a national church failed, his party’s attempt to redefine religious celebrations was more successful. To do this, they used ideology and propaganda to put the holiday in line with the national socialists’ anti-Semitic values.

The Nazis’ problem with Christmas was baked into Christmas itself. After all, Jesus was a Jew—and both anti-Semitism and the goal of eradicating Jews and Jewishness were at the very core of Nazi ideology.

OK, it’s true we’d like to subvert the religious associations, but it’s not for the purpose of anti-semitism (a significant difference, I think), it’s to make the holiday more inclusive. You want to celebrate a traditional, conservative Christian Christmas? Fine, go ahead, I’m happy for you. You want to strip naked and dance in the moonlight on the solstice? Also good, you do you. But nobody should try to swap the participants in those two rituals. And it’s possible to go too far in distancing yourself from basic civil behavior during the season. Like Nazis.

Among the most important was the celebration of the winter solstice. The Nazis attempted to move the date of Christmas to the solstice instead and mounted large performances and community bonfires that supposedly drew on pre-Christian rituals. They also tried to redefine St. Nicholas as Wotan, the ancient Germanic deity.

As the years went on, Nazi attempts to take over Christmas intensified. The Nazis rewrote the lyrics of “Silent Night” to remove all attempts to religion or Christ. They distributed Advent calendars for kids filled with propaganda and militaristic imagery. They even tried to rewrite Handel’s Messiah. Mothers were encouraged to bake swastika-shaped cookies. Even the familiar star that topped millions of Christmas trees was replaced by a sunburst that looked less like the Star of David.

Replacing Santa with Wotan? OK, but you’re going to make the kids cry harder.

Rewriting “Silent Night”? I also approve. Nice slow melody, but man, those lyrics are thoroughly soaked in god-shit. You can sing it however you want, but I personally can’t stand the words to the song.

Swastika-shaped Christmas cookies, there I draw the line.

Also, it’s more Nazi-like to tell me I can’t say “Happy Holidays” and force me to abide by every sacred nuance of your peculiar religious tradition.

The Christmas season is officially here

The War on Christmas is heating up, I guess.

This was an incredibly stupid act. It accomplishes nothing, advances no cause, sends no useful message. All it does is fuel the persecution complex of conservatives.

“I don’t want to hear anything about how radical some of you believe republicans to be when there are lunatics running around New York City setting Fox News Christmas tree on fire,” tweeted conservative commentator Meghan McCain, who has frequently appeared on the cable channel.

So the Republican assault on democracy, the poisoning of minds all across the country, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans by disease, the censorship of history, generations of discrimination…all that is to be swept under the rug because one guy set a fake Christmas tree on fire? A man has been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and arson for it, which is entirely appropriate, and he’s going to get the book thrown at him, as you might assume. If only we could charge the entire Republican party, or at least Fox News, for the crimes against civilization they have perpetrated.

The one person dumber than the idiot who lit a tree on fire might just be Meghan McCain.

What do you mean, “November”?

I remember a time when it was considered tacky to put up your Xmas decorations before Thanksgiving — the invention of Black Friday by the stores was the starting bell to signal when you should let slip the rabid dogs of capitalism. Now it’s basically all of November, and I’ve seen incursions into October. Christmas displays before Hallowe’en aren’t just graceless and kitschy, it’s a sign that you’re obsessive and intrusive. Stop it now.

Besides, what with the pandemic and all the supply chain problems and rampant cost-cutting by employers, only the millionaires and billionaires will be celebrating Capitalist Christmas. The rest of us will be shunning the shopping malls and having a quiet holiday with family at home. Which sounds rather nice, actually.

(Related: there’s a house in my neighborhood that goes all out with giant inflatable decorations in their yard. They know what they’re doing: the day after Hallowe’en, all the monsters and tombstones and skeletons are whisked away into storage, and the inflatable turkeys appear. The day after Thanksgiving, ziiiiip! the turkeys go away and Santa starts bobbing over their lawn. Calendars exist, use them.)

Gwen Pearson just ruined Christmas for everyone

The war on Christmas is over. Everyone just gave up in disgust. They read this story about reindeer parasites, complete with burrowing snot flies, vaginal maggot guns, and people picking maggots out of their eyes, and decided it just wasn’t worth it any more.

What kind of gun should I get to pick off flying reindeer? I’m thinking of spending Christmas Eve patrolling the neighborhood and making sure none of those diseased vermin get anywhere near my house.

The War on Christmas is escalating to violence!

Fox News has been promoting this strange new sin: the failure to say “Merry Christmas”. Some woman who was raising money for the Salvation Army — an organization for which I have absolutely no sympathy, but that still doesn’t warrant assault — was struck for saying "Happy Holidays".

Kristina Vindiola said she was ringing a bell outside the Walmart to raise money for the charity when a woman took exception to her saying "Happy Holidays," KNXV-TV, Pheonix, reported Tuesday.

"The lady looked at me," said Vindiola. "I thought she was going to put money in the kettle. She came up to me and said, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And she says, ‘You’re supposed to say Merry Christmas,’ and that’s when she hit me."

The Christmas War is taking an interesting turn. The Christians are going to battle it out among themselves over who is the most pious, while the atheists stand by the side deploring the whole silly shenanigans. But then, that’s what Christians have done best, historically.

Those rascals in Madison are up to mischief

And good for them! They’ve added a holiday display to the collection in the Wisconsin capitol.


I especially like the message: “Think this is ridiculous? We agree! Religious ideas should not be promoted within the halls of government. Protect the separation of church and state, it protects us all.” That ultimately has to be the point of every atheist group who joins in these absurd exercises in flaunting religiosity — it’s that this is ridiculous, and we’re not going to be silent anymore.

You should congratulate a fine group of students for a job well done.


Grrr. Stedman.

Bill O’Reilly, as he always does this time of year, was ramping up this War on Christmas nonsense again. He’s peeved at the new billboard display from American Atheists in Times Square.

American Atheists launched a major billboard display on Tuesday that declares Christmas is better without the Christ. The huge 40′x40′ digital billboard is located in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan. Using motion graphics, the billboard proclaims, “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” A hand crosses out the word “Christ” and the word “NOBODY” appears. The display then says “Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” and offers a series of cheery words: family, friends, charity, food, snow, and more. The commercial ends with a jovial “Happy Holidays!” from American Atheists and displays the organization’s website,“This season is a great time of year for a hundred reasons—none of them having to do with religion,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “This year, start a new tradition: Don’t go to church. You hate it, it’s boring; you probably only go because you feel guilty or obligated. Instead, spend more time with your family and friends—or volunteer. There are better uses of your time and money.”

Ed Brayton jokes that O’Reilly should have invited him on to talk about it — he would have engaged in some merciless needling that would have annoyed the old windbag. It would have been nice, but no, no way was that going to happen; it would have been even better if David Silverman had been invited on…not only more appropriate, but Silverman is good at standing his ground and punching back. But no. O’Reilly brought on…

Chris Stedman.

He was awful. Well, from my perspective he was awful — O’Reilly seemed to think he was just wonderful, since Stedman was largely agreeing with him. O’Reilly showed part of the billboard, the bit where is it says “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody,” and then cut away to O’Reilly asking Stedman what he thought about it. He replied that they were “not contributing to the destigmatization of atheists,” and later he said that he completely agreed, and he wanted “to see more of yes of atheism than the no of atheism.”

I can guess exactly how Silverman would have responded: by pointing out that the primary message of the billboard was the importance of this season as a family holiday, which certainly is the “yes of atheism”. Stedman either didn’t do his homework or was more interested in ingratiating himself with a far right blustering jerk, and decided instead to see if the snow tires on the bus could bounce over a few atheists.

O’Reilly was pulling his usual schtick, claiming that atheists are bitter, that they sue schools if they have the temerity to let a kid sing a Christmas carol, and whining that Macy’s department store brought in a Santa Claus and didn’t announce that it was Christmas. Why can’t those atheists just leave Christmas alone, he begged.

Most of these claims of atheists hating Christmas are lies, and the criticisms groups like the FFRF levy against schools and other state institutions aren’t that kids shouldn’t be allowed to pray or sing hymns if they want, but that these schools cannot selectively privilege only the Christian religion. Stedman was totally ineffective.

Further, when O’Reilly says “What I’m seeing here is an amazing amount of anger from atheists” and “I don’t really know what they are angry about”, when the angry ranter here is O’Reilly and the atheists aren’t expressing any anger at all, Stedman feebly goes along with it and agrees with the stupid host. I guess he’s hoping for a repeat invitation.

If Stedman and the Harvard Humanists want to put up a friendly, cheerful, unchallenging milquetoast sign, they are welcome to do so, and I won’t have a problem with it. I do have a big problem when a representative of the Harvard Humanists goes on the air to deny the righteous, forthright words of a less weasely organization, and when they are so ineffectual that they can’t even raise a word of rebuttal against the BS Bill O’Reilly lays on so thickly — familiar, tired BS that anyone going on the show ought to be prepared to slap down. It’s not as if he ambushed Stedman with a weird new claim.

Stedman is too feeble, and maybe Ed Brayton would be a touch too acerbic. If they can’t get Silverman to go on, may I recommend Rob Boston, instead? He wouldn’t let the bogosity fly by with a smile and a laugh. Anyone but Stedman.

I think I want these kids to handle O’Reilly.