So Bill O'Reilly, self appointed Defender of America has gotten together with some of his Fox and declared that liberals have started a War on Christmas. It was kind of Bill and friends to declare the war for us, saving us the trouble. Heck, if he could actually go prosecute the war for us, that would be great, because we're too busy shopping for Christmas presents.
Now, Bill O'Reilly is constantly inventing bizarre new fantasies and convincing himself and his gullible fans that his fantasies reflect reality. I mostly ignore him. I let others mock him for his warped view of the world. Indeed, those others have tracked down Bill's own repeated hypocrisy on the batter.
I'd planned on otherwise ignoring it, but Wisconsin Public Radio interviewed John Gibson this morning. (A RealPlayer copy of the interview if you're curious. It should be good through roughly December of 2006.) John is one of Bill's fellow delusionals. John's written the definitive book on the matter, the succinctly titled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.
Liberal plot? When do I get filled in on the conspiracy? Without even opening the book John is engaging in smear tactics. In the interview John was more usefully specific, bashing various organizations working to keep a strong separation of church and state.
Anyway, as the interview progressed, it became clear that John lives in O'Reilly's world where the plural of anecdote is data and the most likely explanation for something is the most complicated. John suggests that Wal-Mart uses "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas" because there is some out of control Human Resource director pulling the shots. Be realistic John. This is Wal-Mart, a company famous for ruthless capitalism, for carefully optimizing every aspect of their stores and supply chain, for maximizing profit. Some rogue HR person did something this potentially damaging to Wal-Mart? Here's a more plausible option: Wal-Mart ran the numbers and decided that "happy holidays" sells more product. They probably don't even care why. If the research suggested that "Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" moved product, you'd see the greeters carefully practicing their Lovecraftian nonsense.
John is also a master of doublethink. He repeatedly said that Christmas trees are safely secular and non-religious, and thus suitable for public places. (Indeed, I'll agree.) John also repeatedly said that trying to eliminate Christmas trees is anti-Christian and a form of religious persecution. He apparently sees no contradiction between those two statements.
John also kept harping that 84% of the country was Christian. He says that the next two biggest groups were people who were non-religious, followed by "everything else." First, if your core premise is that it's reasonable to ban religious nativity scenes from public spaces, but not reasonable to ban non-religious Christmas trees, why is the 84% even important? Of course, it became clear as I listened to John ranting: John considers us a Christian nation and Christians as more important than other religions. That just makes him a dick.
Ultimately the only evidence for this vast liberal conspiracy that John can offer are local places making stupid decisions. He talks about Christmas trees and the colors red and green being banned. Okay, it could be a plot. An evil plot against red and green. But wouldn't it be easier to explain it as individual administrators and city clerks being overly paranoid about the separation of church and state and making stupid decisions? As an unknown wise man once said, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
Indeed, I take some comfort in those words. Like Bill O'Reilly, I simply need to remember that John Gibson is an idiot. They live in their own fantasy world. One shouldn't get too worked up about crazy people.
(Gaaah, while looking for a suitably critical link for John Gibson, I stumbled across John Gibson comparing a critic to a genocidal organization. His critic labeled John a demagogue. Demagogue? "A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace." A bit of an insult, but hardly grounds to suggest your critic wants to send you to a Khmer Rouge re-education camp. Smoooooth, John. Yet another stunning example of Fox News's Fair and Balanced television.)