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Bill O’Reilly revs up his war engine

Bill O’Reilly is playing his "War on Christmas" game again. It seems the Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky decided that the seasonal tree this year would be called a "holiday tree" instead of a "Christmas tree" (he’s since revoked that decision and it’s back to being a "Christmas tree"). This, of course, drew outrage from offended Christians and the ever so fair-and-balanced Bill O’Reilly.

Here’s the video. My take on it follows.

I’ll start off with my opinion that calling the tree a "holiday tree" is stupid. It is a Christmas tree. Let’s just call it that. However, saying "happy holidays" is not stupid. It’s inclusive. Not only is it inclusive of other religious beliefs (Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Al Hijra, etc), but it’s also inclusive of other secular holidays (Thanksgiving and New Years Day, for instance).

Christmas has been secularized to the point where there are very few people who get offended over a Christmas tree, Christmas lights, snowmen, candles, elves, Santa, and the myriad of other secular Christmas displays. Similarly, I don’t know anyone who gets offended over religious displays when they are displayed in an appropriate place… like a church or on private property. The problem comes when the religious aspects of Christmas are displayed, promoted, paid for, or endorsed by any government (or taxpayer supported) organization.

That said… on to O’Reilly’s buffoonery.

He starts off announcing the story, and then says "Kentucky is a traditional place, as you know." By "traditional," what he means is "right-wing religious," but he uses the term "traditional" to make it sound warm and inviting… all apple pie and warm cookies. He also says "that kind of nonsense usually doesn’t play down there," planting his cleated feet firmly in the camp of religious intolerance (as if he needed to plant them deeper than they already are).

Gretchen Carlson states that she thinks that Beshear’s change of heart is "emblematic of what was goin’ on this summer at the tea parties. I think that now Americans have the "fight within them and they’re gonna stand up and they’re gonna be heard." O’Reilly thinks she may be right, of course… but I take offense at being lumped in with her version of what "Americans" are. I sincerely doubt that the tea parties had any real effect on rational, thinking Americans. The right-wing Fox News minions? Yes, perhaps.

O’Reilly turns his attention to Margaret Hoover and says that "we" (his show? Fox News?) had to hammer Washington state last Christmas because the governor there put up an atheist sign (OMG HORROR!) next to the Christmas tree and nativity scene. He charges right past the whole "nativity scene" bit. Perhaps he didn’t want to draw attention to the overt religious displays in government buildings. I don’t know.

Hoover says that we’re a multi-ethnic country (true) and that "atheists can’t impose their atheism on the rest of us… and vice versa" (also true).

O’Reilly, however, comes back with "But that’s not really true" and Carlson, in a flash of brilliance (not), says, "We call it Christmas because Christmas falls on December 25th. It’s Christmas!" Ummm… somebody needs to go back to remedial Sunday school, it seems.

O’Reilly’s argument is that "polls say" that 70% of Americans are "fed up with this nonsense" and want "Christmas to be Christmas." He doesn’t mention which polls or what "this nonsense" is specifically. He just gives a vague, unsupported statement as his means of "destroying" Hoover. He also says that the Christmas tree came from Germany and it’s a "tradition that America has embraced." He changes his tune slightly and says that (emphasis mine) "70% of Americans want traditional Christmas to be kept that way." Again, vague. I’m an atheist and, other than a Christmas Eve church service, my family’s Christmas is as "traditional" as it was growing up. O’Reilly’s statements are vague to the point of being… pointless.

But here’s where he really gets going. He says, "Don’t tell me about pluralistic nonsense. This is the tyranny of the minority." O’Reilly is a master of absurdism. Tyranny? Seriously? Calling a Christmas tree a "holiday" tree is tyranny?

Hoover says it’s up to the states to decide how to handle the issue and they have to answer to their citizenry. O’Reilly’s counter? "That dopey governor out there… and she is a giant pinhead… imposed her ridiculous view of life on Washingtonians." Wow. Because she allowed equal access for various religious displays (since the Constitution requires neutrality), she’s a dopey, giant pinhead? That’s classic O’Reilly, right there.

Carlson is no better and interjects that "they put up a Festivus pole" when, in actuality, they did not. They requested one, but the whole situation got shut down before getting too out of hand. Carlson goes on to make some remark implying that the American people would like to see their tax dollars being spent to stop all religious displays that are non-Christian.

O’Reilly finishes up by stating that the "Supreme Court has already ruled that you can have these displays. You don’t have to make these insane changes." What constitutes "these displays?" Christmas trees? Okay. Manger scenes? No. The Supreme Court has ruled no such thing.

O’Reilly is a master of delivering blustering, absolutist rhetoric while remaining pointless and vague. He spouts off with intolerant, bigoted tirades on a regular basis… but has a devout following of like-minded acolytes that hang on his every word, nodding their heads with a hypnotically zealous agreement. There was very little mention of Christianity in this video, but the undertone was there. From "traditional" Christmas to the tea partiers (who were, on the whole, overtly and fundamentally religious), the implication is that O’Reilly’s version of Christmas is the only acceptable way for Americans to spend the holiday season and, indeed, it’s the only acceptable holiday.

And remember, we call it Christmas because Christmas falls on December 25th.

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