The nearly universal change from wishing fellow Americans “Merry Christmas” to wishing them “Happy Holidays” is a very significant development in American life.
Proponents of “Happy Holidays” argue that it’s no big deal at all, and that proponents of “Merry Christmas” are making a mountain out of a molehill, especially when proponents say that the substitution of “Happy Holidays” is part of a “war on Christianity.”
So, then, which is it? Is the substitution of “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas” important or not? The answer is obvious.
It is very important. That’s why the anti–“Merry Christmas” crowd has worked so hard to make this greeting a thing of the past. And they have been extraordinarily successful.
When I respond “Thank you. Merry Christmas,” I sometimes sense that I have actually created some tension. While many of those to whom I wish “Merry Christmas” may actually be happy that someone felt free to utter the C-word, all the sensitivity training that they’ve had to undergo creates cognitive dissonance.
“Christmas” has also been eliminated by many — probably the majority — of our elementary schools, high schools, and universities. Thus, for example, they no longer have a “Christmas vacation,” but a “Winter vacation.”
The opponents of “Merry Christmas” and other uses of the word “Christmas” know exactly what they are doing. They are disingenuous when they dismiss defenders of “Merry Christmas” as fabricating some “war on Christianity.”
Of course it’s a war on Christianity — or, more precisely, a war on the religious nature of America. The Left in America, like the Left in Europe, wants to create a thoroughly secular society. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that the Left believes in secularism just as fervently as religious Christians believe in Christ.
That’s why “Merry Christmas” so bothers the anti-religious Left. It is perhaps the single most blatant reminder of just how religious America is — and it must therefore be removed from public discourse. Here’s a safe prediction: the ACLU and other secular activists on the Left will eventually move to have Christmas removed as a national holiday.
The Left doesn’t announce that its agenda is to thoroughly secularize America. Instead activists offer the multiculturalist argument — that saying Christmas, as in “Merry Christmas” or “Christmas party” or “Christmas vacation” is not “inclusive.”
This inclusiveness argument plays on Americans’ highly developed sense of decency. Most Americans don’t want to gratuitously offend other Americans, so the inclusiveness argument has been effective.
But the argument is preposterous. Who exactly is being excluded when one wishes someone “Merry Christmas?” Non-Christians?
I am a non-Christian. I am a Jew. Christmas is therefore no more a religious holy day for me than Ramadan. But I am an American, and Christmas is a national holiday of my country. It is therefore my holiday, though not my holy day, as much as it is for my fellow Americans who are Christian. Irving Berlin, an American Jew, wrote “White Christmas” as a celebration of an American holiday, his holiday. By not wishing me a Merry Christmas, you are not being inclusive. You are deliberately excluding me from one of my nation’s national holidays.
But even if Christmas weren’t a national holiday, I would want companies to have Christmas parties, schools to continue to have Christmas vacations, and pilots to wish their passengers “Merry Christmas.” Just because I don’t personally celebrate Christmas, why would I want to drop the word “Christmas” from public discourse when Christmas is celebrated by 90 percent of my fellow Americans?
It borders on the misanthropic, not to mention mean-spirited, to want to deny nearly all of your fellow citizens the joy of having their Christmas parties called Christmas parties or to force them to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.” A majority-Christian country that treats non-Christians so well deserves better.
Narcissism, misanthropy, meanness, and ingratitude. That’s what the Leftist campaign against “Merry Christmas” and “Christmas parties” boils down to.
So, say “Merry Christmas” and “Christmas party.” If you don’t, you’re not “inclusive.” You’re letting the real-life grinches win.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.