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Friday, December 08, 2006


The fantasy of Christmas

After the fantasistic front pages of the Sun [1, 2, 3, 4], the fascistic rants of Melanie Phillips [here are the 2001 and the 2004 rants – I would bet a fiver that she comes up with something similar, though perhaps more extreme, this year] and the plaigiaristic hackery of Janet Street-Porter, the great contemporary myth of Christmas is stripped bare in newsprint. Despite what you might read for the first twenty four days of December in papers from across the political spectrum – at least the spectrum as defined by the mass market newspapers – Christmas is not under attack. It is not being banned. And these things that are not happening are not being done by foreigners, ethnic minorities, migrants, asylum seekers, or any other poxy proxy phrase behind which the tabloids hide their racism.

Thanks to Oliver Burkeman and The Guardian for doing what The Independent should have done. And it might well have done, if it were not for the fact the The Independent was lumbered with an editor-at-large who cannot see dangerous bigoted nonsense for what it is. And it was hardly very well disguised bigoted nonsense. It was on the front page of The Sun. It may as well as come in a box labelled ‘bigoted nonsense’. Mind you, Street-Porter once chose to work with the ‘award-winningKelvin MacKenzie.

In other news, Jack Straw wants to talk to an imaginary person. And he wants to do so on behalf of an imaginary person. I would have had some respect for him if this imaginary person were Santa Claus. At least there is some evidence for Santa’s existence. Children do in fact receive presents, even if the distribution of such gifts is contrary to Santa’s mythic mission statement. The resulting inequalities are just a small part of the persuasive argument for the non-existence of Santa. But at least there is a speck of an empirical case. By contrast, there is no material evidence that anyone is ‘banning’ Christmas. It is not just, as Jack Straw acknowledges, that there are no ‘people of other faiths’ calling for Christmas to be banned on the grounds of offence. But there are no ‘PC’ ‘do-gooders’ who are “second-guess[ing] how they think others will or may react, without even asking them”.

So Straw wants to speak to a fictional character invented by The Sun on behalf of the Archangel Gabriel in order to have a 'big conversation' about something that is not happening. Straw was Home Secretary (responsible for the release of Pinochet - perhaps Straw can petition Gabriel to ease the dictator's entry to Heaven) and Foreign Secretary. No wonder he has some problems dealing with the actually existing world, a world where, in fact, Iraq had no WMDs, and a world where, in fact, the advocates and administrators of the invasion were notorious human-rights violators.

I was amused to be in Ely Cathedral gift shop on Sunday afternoon. Having wondered around the Cathedral and been vaguely put off by the number of plaques etc. asking me to pray, to consider what Jesus would think of various things etc. I expected a full-on Christian Christmas in the Gift Shop (which is in the Cathedral building, after all). I think the ratio of Robin/Snowmen/Penguins on the XMas cards to pictures of baby Jesus was at least 2:1.

Do the PC bigots know no limits? Even banning the sale of proper Christian Christmas Cards in a cathedral! That, or even Christians would rather send a picture of penguins, and the shop was bending to market forces. I don't know...

(The Cathedral also had a very large Christmas Tree. Given that these only became "traditional" in the UK in the mid 1800s, it seemed a little out of place in a cathedral dating back 1000+ years.)

Isn’t your rant on “the war on Christmas” a little dated?

I thought that the mass and thus Christ’s Mass was abolished in 1548, to make a minor recovery in the lass two hundred years.

Well, however you celebrate, have a Merry Christmas!!! :- )

Isn’t your rant on “the war on Christmas” a little dated?

I thought that the mass and thus Christ’s Mass was abolished in 1548, to make a minor recovery in the last two hundred years.

Well, however you celebrate, have a Merry Christmas!!! :- )
Many thanks for the help in this question. I did not know it.
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