Every year, immediately after Thanksgiving, we are treated to the year’s two most predictable media firestorms: first come the awful stories about Black Friday, in which we learn that some store has disappointed dozens of jostling bargain hunters by running short on a trendy loss-leader product. A sound bite from a near-trampled shopper adds gravity. Fortunately, these stories come and go in a few days. Next come the War on Christmas stories in which we learn of some kerfuffle in small town America over a Christmas tree or nativity scene. This is reliably followed by weeks of shouting about the War on Christmas on cable television.
The War on Christmas season is now in full swing. On November 30, a Michigan judge ruled in favor of a family that was told by the county highway commissioner to take down a large nativity scene because of its proximity to a highway. The next evening, Bill O’Reilly took on Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island for secularizing the “holiday” display at the Rhode Island capitol. MSNBC jumped in by lampooning O’Reilly for the same. On no other topic do local dust-ups consistently garner national media attention. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the American public slips into applauding or tsk-tsking the outcome of each micro-event. There are 50 states, 3,500 counties, and tens of thousands of municipalities in the U.S.; if petty controversies break out in a half dozen of them, it hardly suggests that a war is being waged by either seculars or Christians. It actually suggests the opposite. The next time you see a faux news story about the War on Christmas, change the channel and watch the Grinch—there’s a fella who knew how to wage a War on Christmas. // Michael Adelberg