Celebrate Christ: Boycott Wal-Mart

Steve Hammer

Steve Hammer's Blog

I don't observe the Christmas holiday. If I had a rifle with a highly-powered scope on it, I'd snipe Santa out of the sky and steal all of his presents.

That's just my personal opinion, though, and I respect those who celebrate the holiday.

What I'm really irate about is the non-existent "crisis" created by right-wingers about the fact that the phrase "Happy Holidays" has replaced "Christmas" in our consumer culture.

By not using the word "Christmas," the wingnuts say, we're somehow removing Christ from the holiday and are therefore doomed to hell.

But the version of "Christmas" these people celebrate is one fully of their own creation. It certainly doesn't match with Christian history, or even American history.

The Founding Fathers of our country, whose words on other issues are considered almost as sacred as the Bible itself by some, did not celebrate Christmas. It was even banned from 1659 to 1681 in Boston. After the American Revolution, it was considered a British practice best left undone.

It wasn't until after the Civil War that Christmas once again became a popular American custom. Congress didn't declare Dec. 25 a federal holiday until 1870, and the heavy emphasis on commercialization didn't come until the 1930s.

But that's beside the point. Facts have never meant much to conservatives, nor have logical arguments. What matters is creating friction where none existed and using it to drive people towards their point of view.

If you were to believe the anchors on Fox News, Christianity itself is imperiled by the phrase "Happy Holidays," when in fact the words are meant to be inclusive to those who celebrate Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwaanza or nothing at all.

Remember the flag-burning crisis of the late 1980s? Bush the First insisted on a constitutional amendment to ban the burning of American flags. It was his main campaign promise in his successful 1988 election bid.

Of course, once in office, he promptly forgot about it, because there was no epidemic of flag-burning, at least in America. Anyone trying to burn an American flag in public would probably get his or her ass kicked, for one thing.

It's the typical conservative action to any issue: invent a crisis and then urge the stoning of anyone who disagrees with the existence of the crisis.

I worship the Prince of Peace, not the King of Cash.

The fact is, we all need this Christmas season to be a successful one, Christ or no Christ. This economy, which has been ravaged by war and tax cuts for the wealthy, desperately needs the kind of jump-start that Christmas brings.

The do-nothing president and his cronies in Congress will welcome any relief from the wave of scandals, indictments and fraud which has characterized the last five years in Washington.

So don't believe it when the conservatives tell you that Christ has been taken out of Christmas. If they say it, they must actually want Christ removed from the holiday.

There were no terrorists in Iraq until this president said there were hordes of them and started a war that attracted terrorists by the thousands to go there.

I'll buy gifts for my grandmother and niece. The rest of the money I would have spent on meaningless gifts, I gave to the United Christmas Service and to hurricane relief.

The more important question, one conveniently ignored by the conservatives, is Where Would Jesus Shop? A group of clergymen, backed by union leaders, started a TV campaign asking that question and answering by saying, Not at Wal-Mart!

Their letter is worth reprinting in part.

"In Wal-Mart's America, workers are paid poverty level wages even when they work full-time. In our America, workers are paid a living wage with proper health and retirement benefits.

"In Wal-Mart's America, wealthy companies shift their health care costs onto taxpayers like you and your families. In our America, corporations live up to their responsibility and provide their employees with adequate and affordable health care coverage.

"In Wal-Mart's America, suppliers are forced to make their goods cheaper even if it means shipping U.S. jobs overseas. In our America, we value U.S. jobs and companies that buy and sell 'Made in America.'

"In Wal-Mart's America, women are paid less than men. In our America, women and men are treated equally - fair pay for everyone."

Given those facts, why would anyone who worships Christ dare set foot in a Wal-Mart? In a recent poll, 56 percent of Americans agree with the statement "Wal-Mart was bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost."

Those people aren't atheists; they're people who, like myself, have been fooled by the conservatives that we have no choice in the matter. The destruction of the American economy has forced us all to squeeze every penny until Honest Abe starts to choke.

But we do have a choice on whether to take our country back, eliminate the corruption and lies coming from Washington, and rebuild small business in America.

Next year, vote to throw out all the smug conservatives from Washington and pray that the votes are counted fairly.

Until that happens, nobody in America is going to have a merry Christmas or happy holidays.

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