Originally posted at Pharyngula: PZ Myers provides some information on how idea that there is a War on Christmas got started. It started out as a fringe conspiracy idea created by Birchers that has now been accepted by the mainstream.
You’ve probably been wondering. Who in their right mind would declare war on a family holiday? Who would be crazy enough to think such a thing was actually happening? You might have the impression that it’s all a delusion erupting from the fevered brain of blowhard Bill O’Reilly, but it goes deeper than that, back to the 1950s, when the Cold War fostered a whole generation of destructive nuts. Here’s a lovely summary of the history of the War on Christmas, which finds its roots in paranoia about Communists:
In 1959, the John Birch Society, a far-right organization that sees anti-American and communist conspiracies in just about everything, released a pamphlet called “There Goes Christmas!” written by Hubert Kregeloh. The pamphlet claimed, “One of the techniques now being applied by the Reds to weaken the pillar of religion in our country is the drive to take Christ out of Christmas — to denude the event of its religious meaning.” The John Birch Society believed the UN was being used to crush religious belief:
The UN fanatics launched their assault on Christmas in 1958, but too late to get very far before the holy day was at hand. They are already busy, however, at this very moment, on efforts to poison the 1959 Christmas season with their high-pressure propaganda. What they now want to put over on the American people is simply this: Department stores throughout the country are to utilize UN symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations.
These “UN symbols and emblems” were simply secular Christmas decorations that did not employ religious imagery, decorations that had been around for some time. The pamphlet claimed this was a plot to destroy Christianity and called on patriotic Americans to boycott any stores that displayed such decorations. No one took this very seriously in 1959 — this was, after all, the John Birch Society. The conspiracy theory did not catch on. But it was to come back a few decades later.
Oh, but that brings back Christmas memories…I had a crazy uncle who was in the John Birch Society, and it didn’t take much to get him ranting about how the UN was a Commie Plot. Christmas was presents and tinsel and butter cookies and ol’ Henry handing out JBS tracts and explaining how the Africans were a servile race.
Speaking of race, there’s also the odious Steve Sailer and VDARE explaining how it’s a Jewish conspiracy. But then, Jews, Commies, they’re all the same, right?
The paranoid psychoses are getting ripe over on the other side, and have been putrefying for over 50 years. We’re at the stage now where if a Jew, Commie, or Atheist doesn’t say “Merry Christmas”, it’s a sign that they’re out to destroy the holiday by outlawing it; and if they do say “Merry Christmas”, it’s a sign that they’re out to destroy the holiday by subverting it. No matter what we do, we stomp on Christmas!