Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Down the Slippery Slope

WOW....I haven't posted in a while, have I? Actually, that isn't entirely true. I've been posting, it just hasn't been here. I've been posting comments on other blogs and that is almost the same as blogging myself, right? Yeah, yeah, you say, what ever gets you through the day....

Well anyway, I have something to say, so here it is....

You've probably heard about this on the news - a number of right wing "christian" organizations have called for a boycott of Target stores this holiday shopping season because Target no longer uses the word "Christmas" in their advertising or promotional campaigns. Here are the exact words being used by the American Family Association to promote the boycott:
[Target management is] fearful they may offend a small minority who oppose Christmas, but they aren't concerned about offending Christians who celebrate the birth of Christ as the Reason for the season. Therefore, they banned the use of Christmas....[We are]offended that Target has banned "Christmas" in their in-store promotions and retail advertising. [We are] offended that they want to make money from those celebrating the birthday of Christ but are not concerned if Christians are offended.

Hypocritically, the AFA acknowledges that Target is not the only retailer to stop using the word "Christmas" in their advertising and promotions, but Target is the only retailer being targeted by the boycott. In fact the AFA explicitly mentions Wal-Mart as a retailer that has also adopted this "Christmas" ban, and yet Wal-Mart is immune from the boycott despite the fact that Wal-Mart is a bigger corporation than Target. Why the hypocrisy? Could it be because Wal-Mart has always pandered to the religious right and has financially supported numerous right-wing organizations? Or how about the fact that a huge percentage of the religious right's membership would be absolutely lost if, all of a sudden, they were told they could no longer shop at their favorite store and very possibly wouldn't go along with the boycott. Target was a safe and easy....well....target (excuse the pun).

Because the truth of the matter is, this whole to-do isn't really about a boycott or about "Christmas" or about Target specifically. It is about sending a message. Read the quote above again and notice two simple yet meaningful phrases: "small minority" and "oppose Christmas." You see this whole matter is about the fundamentalist Christian right reinforcing the message it has been getting more and more vocal in proclaiming.

Let's look at the message more carefully. The phrase "small minority" - what does it mean? Who does it include? Well it would include Jews, Muslims, Atheists, African Americans who have embraced the celebration of Kwanza and anyone else the fundamentalists hate (trust me you can lump homosexuals in there regardless of whether they celebrate Christmas or not), in other words, literally tens of millions of Americans. And how should we feel about this "small minority"? Well consider that this "small minority" apparently "oppose[s] Christmas." The AFA throws that phrase in there to vilify these groups. As if because a group does not celebrate Christmas or does not celebrate Christmas in the same way that the religious right does, means that they oppose Christmas. But you see if you can make that argument, you can go one step further: clearly those groups hate Christmas. See? Think about it - those Jews and Muslims and all the rest, they don't celebrate Christmas right? So of course they obviously hate Christmas and thus clearly they hate Christians. It's a twisted and insidious logical chain that leads to one clear imperative: they (those non-celebrating Christmas people) hate us (fundamentalist Christians) so we must, in return, hate them. This is precisely the type of rhetoric that breeds hatred, mistrust, suspicion, prejudice, violence and warfare. Hurt them before they hurt you is the philosophy of this type of thinker.

The religious right in this country has made it clear: They are in power now and it is open season to hate. Any semblance of toleration in this sub-culture has been thrown out the window (ironic considering that in name, they are an organization based on the teachings of a man who did nothing but preach tolerance and good will). They are actively targeting the groups they don't like and pushing an agenda of hatred and persecution.

I hate to make the hackneyed and cliched comparison, but doesn't anyone see that this is frighteningly similar to the road that Germany was traveling down in the late 1930's?


At 8:09 AM, Blogger frobisher said...

It is frightening. Over here in the UK two stores Sainsburys and Woolworths have stopped selling "Jerry Springer The Opera" because of an orchestrated letter writing campaign by a small right wing religious group called Christian Voice. The fact that it is shrink wrapped with no swear words/blasphemy on the cover doesnt seem to matter. I will be emailing the companies involved and telling them of my own boycott of their stores - should be interesting.


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