Brian Birdnow

Townhall readers of a historical bent will undoubtedly connect the title of this column with the impromptu Christmas truce of 1914 when British and German troops facing each other in the trenches of Belgium disregarded the warnings of their officers and spent the Yuletide fraternizing in a genuine, if guarded fashion. The fact that the regiments returned to war the next day in no way diminishes the glimpse of humanity amidst the horrors of World War I. The 1914 affair is not, however, the subject of this column. The Christmas truce this author is referring to is what may appear to be the diminution of the intensity of the war on Christmas. Observers have noticed a discernible lessening of the discord and bickering that have marked the Christmas season in years recently gone by, and are generally and they are generally heaving a sigh of relief in recognition of this fact. There is not as much talk about lawsuits over Christmas displays on civic property, and the Christmas displays are being billed as such. There are even instances of sacred Christmas carols playing on the soundtracks of suburban shopping malls. Most Americans, being eminently reasonable people, seem generally content with this state of affairs.

So, does this mean that FOX News and Bill O’Reilly are wrong? Should people who cherish the Christmas season and all it exemplifies now rest easily in the assumption that sanity has returned to this discussion? Before we declare a new era of peace on earth emerging during this holiday season it would be wise to withhold our judgment and await further developments.

In this particular instance the liberals may be playing the old game, defined by Lenin, as “Two steps forward, one step back.” Let us consider the recent past. Many on the political Left were shocked by the fierce reaction of conservatives, traditionalists, and the non-political, but sensible Americans to the gradual expunging of Christmas from the public domain. The liberals realized that they had overreached, and the intensity of Leftist outrage at the likes of O’Reilly, and Hannity for accusing them of waging “…a war on Christmas” proved very illustrative. In short, the liberals protested too much. They, and their allies in the mainstream media knew that they had been caught red-handed and were being called to account. Adopting a neo-Clintonian strategy, the Left denied, dismissed, and dissembled all the while hoping that this storm would blow over. They also plotted their counteroffensive.

The new strategy seems to involve acknowledging the Christmas season, while also acknowledging, quite appropriately Hanukkah, while making a note of Kwanzaa. This faux-holiday presents many problems to the liberals. It was devised by a UCLA sociology professor in 1966, and was avowedly anti-Christian and anti-White at the outset. By the early 1990s some of the promoters of Kwanzaa were able to pass the holiday off as an African winter festival and many liberals, eager to demonstrate their politically correct bona fides, happily accepted the story. When they discovered the fact that they had been used, many liberals were upset and they have accordingly begun to downplay Kwanzaa, without denying its legitimacy.

In any event, this ecumenical approach satisfies many in the general populations who celebrate the season, and see liberal obsession with expelling Christmas observances as typical of humorless Leftist excess. It also throws O’Reilly, Hannity, and FOX News off the scent and offers the liberals cover. The Left can credibly claim that there is no war on Christmas and can insist that the conservatives are creating a bogeyman to rouse the rabble and scare the gullible.

A closer look at this, however, still shows a “two steps forward, one step back” approach. Most schools, both public and private, have surrendered to the “winter break” characterization, rather than referring to the hiatus as the Christmas Holidays. Many stores have instructed their sales help to make no mention of the holidays, although they may return a season’s greeting from a customer. Meanwhile many public and quasi-public buildings have no Christmas displays or decorations, with even Santa Claus, reindeer, candy canes, and snowflakes having been given the boot.

What then, does the future hold? Let us earnestly hope that this is not a mere tactical retreat by the liberals, retiring from the field in the face of numerical disadvantage. In a worst-case scenario the war on Christmas could return, and in an intensified form. The anti-religious, anti-traditional, anti-fun brigade will reappear and elevate busybodyism as the highest human virtue. We will have to fight this battle all over again.

On a more positive note, quite appropriate to the Christmas season, we can earnestly hope that the good sense of the people will prevail and that the public will celebrate family and the virtue of charity at Christmas along with acknowledging the religious nature of the holiday, even as the pedantic among us will point out that it developed from the Roman winter festival Saturnalia. We might also hope that the Leftists will find it in themselves to admit that though Christmas holiday is a public benefit and that we, as a nation are better off for the coming of December 25th.

Merry Christmas to all Townhall readers, especially my students, and even to the trolls!


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.