I admit to being a little overly fond of facebook. That little dopamine surge I get when I see the tiny red dot signifying a comment or a like…captivating. But I can quit anytime I want. There is just something strangely compelling about seeing the publicly posted thoughts of people outside one’s immediate circle of friends. Many of these people may actually have wildly divergent political views from oneself, which is typically not the case among close friends. So, in my politically divergent friends’ posts, I have noticed a great deal of posting about the giving and taking of offense. On Independence Day, it’s usually something like a picture of the American flag with the words, “If this flag offends you, you’re welcome to leave the country any time.” On Veterans’ Day, it seems to be mainly “If saying the Pledge of Allegiance offends you, let me introduce you to a wounded Marine.” and now, at Christmastime, it turns into, “If you’re offended by my Christmas tree, too bad. I won’t be ashamed of my Christmas celebration, and I WILL wish you a Merry Christmas, NOT a ‘Happy Holiday’!”
I know of whom they speak. This chronically offended person is a probably a “white liberal elite”, possibly an atheist, and likely a supporter of the ACLU. And while I would posit that this person who is always in high dudgeon over everything red-blooded Americans do doesn’t really exist, I understand from whence the myth arose. Here is a conversation that happens not infrequently among white liberals: “So, who’s Tony again?” “Tony’s about 6 feet tall, brown eyes, dark hair, with attached earlobes and moderately wide set eyes.” “You mean that guy over there?” “Yeah, that’s Tony.” “Well why didn’t you just tell me he’s black?” “I don’t see people in terms of race.”
This is your quasi-imaginary white liberal who deeply fears giving offense and may indeed take offense over a great many things. But honestly, we real white liberals mostly don’t care what you do. That’s what Civil Liberty is really all about. Have a Christmas tree, give Christmas presents, hell, you can stage a tableau vivant of the Nativity in your living room every night of Advent if you want. It’s YOUR house. But why is your enjoyment of the season predicated on wishing every damn person you meet a “Merry Christmas?” Even if we assume every non-Christian is walking around in a bristling state of high alert for offense this time of year (unlikely), if you don’t even know someone well enough to know if they’re Christian or not, why would you want to risk offending her? I mean, if she’s wearing a battery-powered light up Santa theme sweater and is buying a lifesize baby Jesus doll with manger, by all means, wish away. And if she’s wearing dreidel earrings and buying bulk menorah candles, wish her a Happy Hannukah. And if you just can’t tell, is it really that horrible to just say, “Have a nice day?” After all, wishing someone a happy holiday of any sort is not about you, it’s about them. Just like wishing someone a Happy Birthday is about his birthday, not yours. If you wished a stranger a Happy Birthday on the anniversary of your own birth, I suspect he wouldn’t be offended, but he would probably think you’re weird.
So that’s what it comes down to then: all this “In your face, sucka! I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas whether it pisses you off or not!” just seems like it’s not quite in the spirit of the season. I may be an atheist, but my Nana was probably the World’s Greatest Catholic Who Ever Lived. And while she prayed every day for Jesus to come into the hearts of everyone she met, and for the benighted believers of other faiths to be shown the light, she never tried to make anyone feel uncomfortable. So let’s put the Christ back in Christmas, after all, and stop being jerk wads about it. Let’s stop pretending it’s about people taking umbrage. Let’s reevaluate the idea that all these blue-state Democratic smarty-pants snobs are trying to deprive you of your right to be patriotic, or Christian, or to pray, or whatever else this paranoia is about. Christianity is not under attack. I’m an atheist and in surveys, we rank way down on the list of trustworthiness with rapists. I’m not exaggerating; here’s the study. We come in behind “Muslims, Jews, feminists and homosexuals.” I’m basically in an oppressed minority! In any case, I don’t think I’ll live to see the day an atheist is elected President. So don’t worry, we ain’t runnin’ the place. By all means, enjoy your Christmas, Christmas-celebrators. But enough with the disingenuous “offended” talk. It’s not what Jesus would do.
Also, God bless the United States of America.