Is there any doubt about the existence of a war on Christmas? There shouldn't be. It's been going on for years.
OK, I don't mean the one that's been the obsession of guys like Bill O'Reilly who's been appalled that Walmart employees might greet shoppers with a "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." I don't mean the one that was touted by the virulently extremist John Birch Society in the late 1950s which charged that a Communist plot was going to "take the Christ out of Christmas," which would lead to handing over United States sovereignty to the United Nations. And I don't even mean the one that underscored a recent House draft resolution that expressed disapproval of supposed attempts to ban references to Christmas, apparently stimulated by Starbucks serving customers coffee in plain red cups that didn't sport the word "Christmas."
Even that current master of hyperbolic hysteria, Donald Trump, has joined the war. According to the Washington Post, last month he asked a Springfield, Illinois crowd, "Did you read about Starbucks? No more Merry Christmas at Starbucks... Maybe we should boycott Starbucks... If I become president, we're all going to be saying Merry Christmas again. That I can tell you! Unbelievable!"
I don't think so!
With apologies to eighteenth century composer George Frideric Handel and librettist Charles Jennens who gave the world one of history's most masterful choral works, "Messiah", with its biblical references, I note with a trace of parodic license that "The Trump shall sound," promising that if he's president, echoing "Messiah," he will execute his role as chief of state with his own version of that musical oratorio. "We shall be changed," the composition predicts; the Donald gloats, "I'll make America great again!"
This brings me to the real war on Christmas. It's the battle against a holiday spirit that is ingrained not just in Christianity, but in Judaism and Islam, just as the passage "Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men" is ingrained in "Messiah." When Trump declares that he will bomb the (expletive) out of ISIS no matter the suffering to countless numbers of innocents, he places himself as a leader of the real war against Christmas and the joyful interfaith spirit that surrounds it.
Trump could never be an ambassador of goodwill. Earlier this week he openly acknowledged that he was the candidate of hate. "I would never kill them," he told a boisterous rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, referring to reporters. "But I do hate them." His rage has grown sharper and more poisonous just in the last few days, replete with crude, vulgar and repulsive personal comments directed at Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent should he be the Republican presidential nominee next year. Egged on by raucous supporters, his strength would not be the continued enhancement of America's greatness, but rather the degradation of its dignity.
With the palpable societal divisions among us that are all too prevalent these days, the last thing we need is Donald Trump exacerbating those fissures. That would reprise the passage in "Messiah" that suggests, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way."