I'm sure that if you've been listening to Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich these days, you know that anyone who dares say "Merry Christmas" is in danger of being dragged of to government re-education camps. Of course, I'm exaggerating. But as Frank Rich notes in the New York Times, there's a me-thinks-they-doth-protest-too-much quality in the furor over politically correct Christmas, er, excuse me, holiday celebrations:
The only evidence of what Pat Buchanan has called Christmas-season "hate crimes against Christianity" consists of a few ridiculous and isolated incidents, like the banishment of a religious float from a parade in Denver and of religious songs from a high school band concert in New Jersey. (In scale, this is nothing compared with the refusal of the world's largest retailer, Wal- Mart, to stock George Carlin's new best seller, "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?," whose cover depicts its author at the Last Supper.) Yet the hysteria is being pumped up daily by Fox News, newspapers like The New York Post and The Washington Times, and Web sites like savemerrychristmas.org. Mr. O'Reilly and Jerry Falwell have gone so far as to name Michael Bloomberg an anti-Christmas conspirator because the mayor referred to the Christmas tree as a "holiday tree" in the lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center.
What is this about? How can those in this country's overwhelming religious majority maintain that they are victims in a fiery battle with forces of darkness? It is certainly not about actual victimization. Christmas is as pervasive as it has ever been in America, where it wasn't even declared a federal holiday until after the Civil War. What's really going on here is yet another example of a post-Election-Day winner-takes-all power grab by the "moral values" brigade. ...The idea is to intimidate and marginalize anyone who objects to their efforts to impose the most conservative of Christian dogma on public policy. If you're against their views, you don't have a differing opinion — you're anti-Christian (even if you are a Christian).
An aside--there is something very silly about many of the efforts to scrub Christmas from public holiday celebrations. If you put up a pine tree, string lights on it and throw on ornaments, it's a Christmas tree. It may not be a religious symbol per se, but you're not going to find Hindus, Muslims or Jews putting a tree up in their homes during the month of December. And if your community's parade has Santa, it is a Christmas parade. If someone is to be offended by that, relabeling it isn't going to help.
Nonetheless, Rich's point is correct, as is the larger point he makes, which is that the media largely ignores the Christian voices that are not theologically or politically conservatives. Many people in this nation who call themselves Christian are not fundamentalists nor evangelicals, yet no one seems to be invited to represent their views. The result is that our religious debates, like our political ones, grow more and more polarized.