Friday, November 25, 2011

The War on Christmas

The Colbert Christmas special last year featured country star Toby Keith singing a song about the War on Christmas, where he denounces the change from Christmas to Holiday and tries to take back Christmas for the Christians. It's a great song and a great Christmas special in the spirit of Colbert's hilarious and biting social commentary. But it looks like Toby's going to have more to sing about this year, as the Occupy Wall Street Movement announces their latest venture: Occupy Christmas.

Abdusters magazine is calling for Occupy Christmas to be launched today, Black Friday in the US, where there's already been one story of a woman in LA using pepper spray to ward off other shoppers looking for deals. This story would probably have more sway if it wasn't in LA where most people are crazy anyway, but it does reinforce what greed has done to people today and that gives one point to the Occupiers.

One point against the Occupiers? Well, launching an offensive against a season which is traditionally known for peace and goodwill is not the greatest PR move. True, Adbusters is targeting the mountains of presents left for entitled greedy children and the spirit of empty consumerism and waste that spoils the holidays. But the reason why this movement is going to fail is because that is not the way the rest of us tend to see it.

The Occupy Wall Street movement resonates with people because it attacks social injustice and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. It's a battle between the haves and the have nots. But the point of Occupy Wall Street is not to turn us into a society of have nots; it's to bridge the gap and give everyone a fair chance at a good life where they don't have to struggle for the basics. It harkens to the spirit of 'we want bread, but we want roses too.'

Fair enough. But Christmas isn't a social justice issue. The most meaningful aspects of Christmas remains the same for the majority of people: getting together with friends and families, giving to charity, watching Christmas specials on tv, baking gingerbread cookies. These things are for everyone, not just the rich elite.

The Occupy movement should be focused on what it was intended to do: fight the power on Wall street and make the big banks accountable to the people whose tax dollars bailed them out in the midst of a financial crisis. There can be some important social changes, changes to government and policy as a result of this movement and more important of all, a change in attitude when it comes to how society should treat its people.

If anything, the Occupy movement would do best by embracing Christmas. The real Christmas, which is all about giving to others, and not just in the form of gifts. Not only will people resent a raining of their Christmas parade, they are likely to misinterpret it as an attack on a cherished holiday. Adbusters is quick to point out that they don't protest the religious spirit or the giving spirit of the holiday, but that's not the way that most people are going to view it.

Occupy Christmas is a bold statement and that's clearly what they want. But it's not going to help the cause. Occupiers should be celebrating with everyone else and asking them to do so moderately.

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