‘Twas the night before Christmas and I recently read, an editorial by Goldberg I can’t get out of my head.
It was Jonah Goldberg’s editorial in the Indianapolis Star Dec. 21, that riled me. I usually don’t read Mr. Goldberg’s column, but the title “Santa’s Not Pagan” got my attention. The editorial was confusing and insulting. He blamed atheists for the war on Christmas. He called atheists “Joyless Atheist boobs.” As an atheist, I was not amused by his insults any more than he would be if someone insulted his religion and called jews “Joyless Jewish Boobs”. He needs to recant and apologize.
Most atheists come from religious families and still celebrate the secular Santa Claus Christmas tradition, minus the religious aspects. If Goldberg had looked into the historical Santa Clause, he would have realized that Santa is not a Christian personality. The mythical Catholic Saint Nicholas has long ago evolved into our modern lovable secular Santa. Unseriously, does Mr. Goldberg really believe Santa wears a cross around his neck and has one hung at the head of his bed?
Mr. Goldberg goes on to accuse atheism of conducting an annual war on Christmas, and capitalism of having diminished Christmas by its commercialism. I question both these assumptions.
I knew several Pentecostal, SDA, and Calvinist families who distained the Santa Claus Christmas tradition and forbad their children from having a tree and exchanging gifts. They taught their children that Santa was pagan, and “of the devil”. On the other hand, I know of no atheists who do not believe in the jolly elf called Santa, his wife, Mrs. Claus, his little elf workers, and his magical flying reindeer. It is a great tradition. To my family, and all my atheist friends, the Christmas season is a fun time of reunion with family and loved ones. We have better things to do at Christmas than to play war games. To blame the so-called “War on Christmas” on atheists is ridiculous. It is perpetuated by FOX News and supporters. All the atheists that I know, strongly support everyone’s right to celebrate and worship as they wish, but not in tax supported facilities, like schools and government.
Goldberg complains that some schools have solstice trees. I believe there’s nothing wrong with that because Christmas began as a Pagan Solstice celebration. Check out its history Mr. Goldberg.
To his credit, Goldberg correctly attributes the seasonal complaints about a war against Christmas to conservative pundits. I believe the so-called war against Christmas is simply a conservative rallying call to which Mr. Goldberg has answered. Has Goldberg forgotten that religious radicals including the Puritans, have been anti Santa for hundreds of years. Goldberg writes about the Christians of Loudoun County, VA, who actually crucified a likeness of Santa outside their Courthouse to make the point that atheists want to kill Christmas. I wonder what their kids felt about their crucified Santa?
Goldberg claims there are enough “war on Christmas horror stories to lend validity to Conservative complaints” about the atheist war on Christmas. He writes, “Conservatives have the better of the argument” that claims Christmas is a holy day. Of course it is Mr. Goldberg, no one said it wasn’t for Christians, but to Jews, Muslims, and non-believers it is not a holy day.
In Mr. Goldberg’s defense, being an editorial writer is not an easy job. Deadlines are perpetual, Christmas season is busy, and thoughtful writing takes research and time. Nevertheless, he should be taken to task for his thoughtless column. He would have failed a grade school writing class because he rambled, he had no central theme, he neglected careful research, and he insulted and confused readers. I do not fault him for his biases or his political views. After all he is an editorial writer expressing his opinions in a Conservative paper. I can, however, disagree with his opinions.
Goldberg goes on to criticize a Swedish branch of UNICEF and their depiction of Santa, as a hard hearted “one percenters who scoff at the idea of bringing presents to Third World kids.” I thought the cartoon was thought provoking and worthwhile.
Goldberg complains about a few public school’s insistence of celebrating a Winter Solstice instead of a religious Christmas. Nothing wrong with that either, after all, public schools must treat all Christians, and non-Christians including non-believers, equally. I see no problem in referring to the holiday as either a secular Christmas or a Solstice celebration. December 25 is a Solstice date is it not? Even theologians agree their Christian savior was not born on that date. I see no problem with people choosing to have a Christmas tree at home or in church, and having a Holiday tree in public. It’s no big deal.
As I said, Goldberg also blames capitalism for Christmas woes. He writes, “One of the major culprits is capitalism which encourages the commercialism of Christmas and eventually of everything sacred.” Everything sacred? Come on Mr. Goldberg, you really don’t mean that do you? Mr. Goldberg forgets that many capitalists are the very people who attend churches and celebrate Christmas. Capitalism is what makes Christmas and democracy possible. What would Christmas be without advertising, selling, buying, and giving gifts? And, what’s wrong with commercialism Mr. Goldberg? The definition of Commercialism is: “acting for profit.” We all do that. It is the way business works. If we do away with the for profit motive we destroy capitalism and our democracy. If Mr. Goldberg thinks capitalism and commercialism harm Christmas, he can do his share by not participating in the Christmas tradition. If he claimed excess commercialism can cause problems, I might have agreed with him.
I suggest Mr. Goldberg find better subjects to editorialize about next year than his fictional atheist and capitalist war on Christmas.