Monday, December 18, 2017

All about you

We all know that there are unreasonable people in the world who expect everything and everyone to revolve around them and their needs. But I want to talk about one specific thread of that behavior that tends to rear its ugly head during this time of year.

The "War on Christmas" people.

Who insist that it is an insult to them, their religion, and their country if you do not privilege them.

The insult, say these folks, is in people's failure to respect their holiday, their beliefs, their freedom by refusing to acknowledge it. And what they process as "refusal" to do these things is a tendency to be inclusive of everyone; in other words, if you just wish someone a happy holiday, this type of person will get super shirty and perhaps pointedly say "And a MERRY CHRISTMAS to YOU." Which does not, of course, feel like a well-wishing attempt. If you ask Jews, Muslims, atheists, anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas, they are by and large NOT about to make a stink about being wished a merry Christmas, and for the most part Christmas-celebrators DO NOT behave like this either.


I'd think reports of "War on Christmas" jerks were largely exaggerated if I had not spent six years in retail.

Every. Year. I'd have at least several people a day snot at me on the phone, at the register, or in the store if I wished them a "Happy Holiday" like I was instructed to. I have had people ask for my manager. I have had people come to me to complain about the bag design not specifying "Merry Christmas." I even had one person complain that the Christmas music was too secular--not enough Jesus in the music, too much Frosty the Snowman and Santa. You know, it was their holiday but not explicitly religious enough for them to feel comfortable shopping to. And of course just the everyday snide "Yes, and Merry CHRISTMAS to YOU" or "you know it's CHRISTMAS right? The reason for the season?"

(The reason for the season is the Winter Solstice, actually, but I digress.)

Here's the thing. These types of people feel attacked, they feel othered, they feel persecuted, if their holiday is not explicitly centered TO THE EXCLUSION OF OTHERS' HOLIDAYS. If someone attempts to be inclusive, to acknowledge that there ARE other holidays at this time of year, to take care not to assume what someone celebrates, THEY ARE MAD THAT WE DO NOT ASSUME EVERYONE IS THEIR RELIGION AND CELEBRATES THEIR HOLIDAY.

They consider that an attack. They consider that unacceptable.

Can you imagine being so selfish, so entitled, that you explicitly want everyone in your world to treat everyone as if they believe like you unless otherwise indicated? Can you imagine being so privileged that people not discriminating against others for your benefit feels like they must be attacking you?

This is why those folks feel they're fighting a war. The war they're fighting isn't the right to celebrate how they want, or believe how they want, or have freedoms associated with their religion. They are not being stopped from praying how they desire. They are not being asked to worship in secret or being asked to avoid displays that show off their beliefs on their own personal property. They do not have anyone coming to their religious places to burn them down or demonstrate outside of them. They do not have anyone in schools teaching their children that people like them should go back to their country of origin.

The "war" they're fighting is a battle to live in a theocracy. 

They don't want diversity, despite that it is one of the major founding principles of the country they claim to love. They don't want religious freedom, because that means people who are not their religion might inconveniently practice or preach it in their own spaces or spaces that intersect theirs. They don't want freedom of speech, because that entitles people with ideas they don't like to ~poison their children~ (isn't it always about the children?). They pretend to believe in all of these things, but they only like them as vehicles for their own dogma. As soon as you advocate for actual diversity, religious freedom, or freedom of speech, it paves the way for people who believe differently to embrace what they want, and that's not actually the goal for people like this. What they want is complete freedom for THEIR group, THEIR religion, THEIR speech to be, worship, and say what they like. If someone else simply is, believes, and says something different, even if it doesn't contradict theirs or prevent them from doing as they want, it can still be spun as a threat.

Frequently, the way they accomplish this is to claim that anything explicitly un-Christian (even if it isn't anti-Christian) is also un-American, violent, negative, or perverted. Suddenly your love for your country or your decency as a person is called into question if you do not demonstrate so-called Christian morals and values. They have had a pretty established chokehold on moral messages since the Puritans established their codes of conduct, and despite the well-meaning religious freedom laws of the Founding Fathers, we're still so obsessed with the connection between Christianity and moral values that our elected officials are "sworn in" on something they believe in, and it's so frequently a Christian Bible that some elected officials literally believe it has to be the Christian Bible. That somehow, despite our religious freedom laws being there in black and white, we still all realllllly know the United States is a Christian nation and our REAL ruling document is the Bible, not the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

They smugly believe their religion is and should be in charge of how the country is run (despite how many explicitly un-Christian things our government does). It's about the show: it's about the Christmas tree, it's about saying "Merry Christmas," it's about the nativity scene in the yard. Those things "prove" that you have the "right" beliefs, and if you refuse to trumpet your supposed faith to everyone you know and see, you're the opposition. 

It's all about them. It's all about being forced to center them in everything, or be accused of un-American, un-Christian, therefore immoral lifestyles and morals. This is what oppression and persecution look like, by the way. It is being committed BY them, not against them.

As soon as you create hysteria over an attack on you predicated on the notion that you are oppressed because you are not explicitly preferred, you are demonstrating that you do not understand privilege or struggle or oppression. If you feel attacked whenever you see evidence that others share your freedoms, you are on the wrong side of this "war." You are on the side of the fascists, the racists, the dictators, the oppressors. You are not under attack because someone won't say "Merry Christmas." You are not under attack because others aren't being subjected to your religion against their will. You are not under attack because you are not free to attack others for being different from you. You are not under attack from an inclusive society.

It should not be all about you. Especially at a time of year that is supposed to be about togetherness, charity, and love.

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