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Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 12:01 am

Merry Christmas, right-wingers, the Red Pope and Jesus

 Ah, ’tis the season for family, friends, eggnog, chipmunks singing Christmas carols – and all-out, no-mercy, blow-’em-all-to-hell WAR.

Not war like in Afghanistan. No, no – this is the far-right’s God-awful “War on the War on Christmas.” In this season of Peace on Earth, a delusional faction of rightist has cooked up a hokey “cultural crisis” to foment hatred of ... well, of whom? Blasphemist-liberal-Democrat-atheist-humanists, they shout!

The infidels are not accused of lobbing actual bombs in this “war,” but Words of Mass Destruction. Specifically, wail the purists, unholy left-wingers go around saying “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas,” as Jesus taught us to say. Or was it Constantine the Great in the Fourth Century who came up with that?

Never mind, the rightists’ point is that diabolical lefties – i.e., Marxists – are out to ban Christmas entirely. No less of a heroic defender of the faith than Sarah Palin has even written a thin book about this devious plot, revealing that “Happy Holidays” is merely “The tip of the spear in a larger battle to ... make true religious freedom a thing of America’s past.” Luckily, note the Merry Christmas crusaders, such bright lights as Gov. Rick Perry of Texas are pushing state laws to bypass the silly U.S. Constitution and allow Christian icons and ceremonies into our schools. “A creche in every public space,” is their cry, “a cross on every city hall.” To hell with Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, etc. – this is war!

No, this is hokem, flimflammery, hoodoo, camel dung. It’s also insulting that they would attempt to try to generate a major social conflict over the fiction that “Happy Holidays” constitutes religious discrimination, whine that they are a repressed minority, and equate it with war. First, Jews, Muslims and others don’t get to brand public spaces as their religious property. Second, about three-fourths of Americans are Christian, so drop the put-upon martyr pose. And third, war really is hell, with blood, lifelong trauma and death – so stop pretending you’re in one.

But rationality doesn’t seem to be included in the liturgy of their political church. Indeed, some of its acolytes have added a twist on Christmas that would make Jesus weep.

Indeed, they have launched a war against Jesus! How twisted is that? They say no one should mess with the word “Christmas,” yet they’re messing with the guy Christmas is supposed to be about.

Okay, technically they’re not going directly at Jesus, but at a key part of his message – and, in particular, a key messenger of Christianity: Pope Francis! They’ve decided that the Pope is a “Marxist,” pointing out that Francis speaks often about “the structural causes of poverty,” the “idolatry of money” and the “new tyranny” of unfettered capitalism. Obviously, say the Pontiff’s pious critics, that’s commie talk.

The clincher for them was when Francis wrote an exhortation in which he asked in outrage: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” See, cried the carpers, that’s proof that Francis is the Red Pope!

But wait – that was a very good question he asked, one ripe with the moral wrath that Jesus himself frequently showed toward the callous rich and their “love of money.” Indeed, the Pope’s words ring with the deep ethics you find in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and in his admonitions to serve the poor. Was he a commie, too?

Jim Hightower is national radio commentator, columnist and author.


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