Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bully for You

I know all about bullies. As a kid I was scrawny and easily intimidated by bigger kids, and even at the age of eight or so my sexual preference was under suspicion. I was also a lousy student in school and not athletic, so I had nothing going for me in the gazelle vs. hyena world of grade school. It wasn’t until I was about twelve or so that I dared to push back and discovered the truth about bullies: they are all a lot of hot air and when threatened with their own type of behavior back at them, they claim that they’re the victim and go crying to whomever will listen to them. They do it because they can, and until someone teaches them a good lesson, they will keep on doing it. Thus it has ever been, and it doesn’t prevent the bullies from trying out their perverse form of intimidation on new targets. That means that we must be always on the alert and prepared to fight back. (It also explains why I went to the gym nearly every day for twenty years, but that’s another story.)

It’s no surprise to me to see the pathology of victimhood now arising from the current crop of bullies here in this country in the form of accusations of “anti-Christian bigotry” and such by the Religious Reich, which includes groups such as the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the Traditional Values whatever, and the minions of the Church of I-Hate-You. They’re a collection, it seems, of people with a serious bipolar disorder: they claim to have millions of supporters, yet they also claim they’re under assault by the evil forces of Hollywood and the purveyors of the Homosexual Agenda, and therefore must constantly wage a campaign of insurgency. A recent example is the promotion of Mel Gibson’s snuff film, The Passion of the Christ, as the rallying cry of Christians everywhere against the secular Jews who run the liberal movie machine that otherwise cranks out such filth as Alexander and Fahrenheit 9/11. Now that it’s nominating season for the upcoming awards such as the Golden Globes and the Oscars, the bullies claim that Hollywood will choose Michael Moore over Mel Gibson for their honors and that is Exhibit A in their anti-Christian bigotry claims. Ironically, the bullies have never taken the Academy Awards seriously before, saying that they do not represent “traditional values.” Now they’re upset that they’re not going to get one?

The best example is the current flood of rage being launched by the bullies over the “Merry Christmas” issue. They’re all honked off because “Happy Holidays” is being used by some stores or corporations in their greetings and signage, and they see that as an assault on their faith. Yes, of course, it’s all about them. The bullies never seem to account for the fact that between the middle of November and the first of January there are a whole lot of “holidays” for which people may wish happiness for others. According to the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (1977 edition), there are five Holy Days between November 30 and December 28, including St. Stephen’s Day on December 26. (Hence the inclusion of Good King Wenceslas, with the reference to “the Feast of Stephen” in its first line, in the Christmas carol canon. It’s close enough.) There’s also the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, and, of course, Hannukah. But because the United States is overwhelmingly populated by Christians, Christmas has become the Big One and therefore deserves to dominate the airwaves and disrupt the air travel system. Anybody who finds it annoying or even inconvenient is a secularist or a godless pagan. They ignore the fact that there may be some staunch Christians who object to the overbloviation of the day. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate holidays or even birthdays, seeing them as a distracting focus on worldly goods rather than spiritual needs. To the Quakers, Christmas is just another day; you really can’t distinguish one above the other in terms of finding That of God within yourself and others.

But these little details mean nothing to the bullies. They have to have it their way or the world is going to come to an end. Every time they hear “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” their faith is being assaulted and their rights are being denied. Well, boo-hoo. It is time to stand up to them and teach them to accept the fact that they have to share the stage with everybody else – Christian and non-Christian alike – who do not mind including the rest of the holidays with their greetings.