There's a perfectly good reason for this: most of the social problems which affect the middle and working classes are economic in nature, and the Republican right-wing only exacerbates them by creating endless legislation that favors the rich. So they can't very well channel red-state rage to where it legitimately belongs; the fury of the holy middle at East Coast elites, Wall Street meddlers, and media smutmongers would suddenly become a liability if it was widely advertised that the leaders of their beloved party are Ivy-educated, heavily invested top-out-of-sighters who own virtually every media outlet in existence and let the content of same be dictated not by any lofty moral quality, but by what puts money in their stock portfolios.
This is not a new observation, of course. The brilliant Tom Frank, in his book What's the Matter with Kansas?, spells out the playbook with perfect clarity. The only surprising thing is that it manifests itself in some new way every season. One year, it's P.C. thugs smothering free expression on campus; another, it's the godless atheists forcing the doctrine of evolution on our kids; another, the hedonistic homos strutting their sodomite stuff down the thoroughfares and main streets of the cities; and the next, it's meddling leftists trying to obliterate our nation's history by removing public displays of the Confederate flag. Keep in mind that all these crusades are designed to fail: the architects and disseminaters of this ludicrous propaganda know that evolution will continue to be taught, gays will continue to have a higher public profile, sewage will continue to spill out of the box, and French wine will continue to be sipped. These manifestations of what Frank calls the plen-T-plaint are born to lose. They're designed to keep the target audience in a state of continual rage at these menial frustrations, a state which will lead them to re-elect the Republican right again and again. (Of course, the people they elect, after campaigning on what has been laughably called "values", will immediately forget all about smut, fags, and atheist scientists upon taking office and get back to the G.O.P.'s real agenda of tax cuts, deregulation, and the dismantling of economic progressivism, until the next election cycle.)
The latest manifestation, as we've seen, is the "liberals want to outlaw Christmas" idea. According to this horseshit theory, liberals and leftists and snobby coastal types have taken it into their heads to ban Christmas -- it's never explained why, leaving one to assume that it's because they'e just evil and want to ruin everything for everybody. It's often couched in a conception of religious persecution; liberals hate religion, so they've replaced "Christmas" with "holiday" as part of their monstrous effort to eradicate faith from our lives. (When it is pointed out that Eid, Hannukah and Kwanzaa are often included in holiday culture, the narrative is altered: it's not religion liberals hate, it's Christianity.) Bill O'Reilly flogs this liberals-want-to-outlaw-Christmas meme for all it's worth; it's also all over Town Hall, with one of their bigwigs having recently gone as far as to pen a "Declaration of Christmas Rights", which spell out exactly what your legal rights are to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as if anyone was impinging on them. (One of the "Christmas rights" is to opt out of any holiday celebration in which you do not wish to participate; this is exactly the motivation behind minimizing the Christmas part of the holidays in the first place. It's called political correctness, and apparently, it's perfectly fine except when used by non-whites, non-Christians, non-Europeans, or non-conservatives.)
Of course, this is a completely ridiculous idea, like most backlash complaints. No American who does not live without electricity in a shack hundreds of miles from the nearest town can possibly make it from late October to mid-January without being reminded dozens of times that it's Christmas. It's scarcely worth even refuting, but remarkably easy to do: searching the TV listings on national broadcast & cable networks for the next 14 days -- which, notably, still puts you 11 days away from Dec. 25th -- yields almost 250 programs with "Christmas" in the title, excluding religious programming. Christmas decorations are everywhere. Christmas sales are in every store. Christmas decorations are on every street, and a lot selling Christmas trees is on every corner. The establishment clause has been interpreted to mean that local governments cannot feature a creche, an angel, or a wise man, but no laws restrict their displays in private homes or churches, and even here in heathen liberal Chicago, you can't walk down any street without being explicity reminded of what put the Christ in Christmas. And despite all the claims of multi-cultural tyranny, one would be hard-pressed to find one American in five who can tell you exactly what Hannukah, Kwanzaa or Eid are, but pretty much anyone -- even non-Christian immigrants or atheist snobs like me -- can tell you what Christmas is.
So, lacking any legitimate leg on which to stand this fatuous argument, O'Reilly and the rest of the plent-T-plainters bolster it by saying that in department stores, no one is allowed to say "Christmas" anymore, being ordered instead to use the generic, non-denominational "holiday". It's almost needless to say that this isn't true. The last time I was at Target was in November, and even then Christmas was everywhere -- written, spoken, and expressed in symbolism. If you go to the websites of national department store chains, some (including Kohl's, Target, Ross, and Marshall's) do indeed eschew the word "Christmas" in deference to "holiday", but others (including Beall's, KMart, Dillard's, and Marshall Field's) explicit plaster the C-word all over the place. (Interestingly, Wal-Mart -- always cited by right-wing culture warriors as the God-fearing, people-pleasing store of choice for the red-blooded red-stater, and owned by the ultra-right, ultra-Christian Walton family, no friends of political correctness -- uses "holiday" on their website, while both Bloomingdale's and Macy's -- headquartered in the elite, snooty, royal-blue, multi-culti, un-American metropolis of New York -- use the word "Christmas" six times on the front pages of theirs.)
But even if this was true, even if department stores all over the country were forbidding their minions to utter the word "Christmas", placing the blame on liberals is typical backlash bullshit in that it points the finger in exactly the wrong direction. Liberals do not own or operate department store chains, and those chains' boards, marketing departments and stockholders are not beholden to the delicate sensibilities of Utne or Mother Jones. They are owned by wealthy, profit-driven capitalists, and a majority of them, if not all of them, are Republicans. If they have ordered their people to use "holiday" instead of "Christmas", it is because they recognize that not all of their paying customers are Christians, and they would happily put a priapic statue of Pan in their front windows if it meant a better margin at the end of the fiscal quarter. If red-staters are looking for someone to blame for this largely imaginary and certainly miniscule complaint, they should look no further than the big donors and supporters of their own beloved Republican party. And yet, the story continues: everything bad is the fault of liberals, because, well, they're liberal. And liberals want to wreck everything for everyone, out of sheer meanness.
Merry Christmas, everybody!