Monday, December 12, 2005

I saw a new Target commercial last night

I guess the right-wing religious zealots can relax now: I saw a Target commercial on TV last night that closed with "Merry Christmas."

I can remember when the religious decried the fact that Christmas had been hijacked by retailers -- Commercialism, it was called. It was bad. But now the right-wingers are concerned that Christmas is being ignored entirely and replaced by some sort of bland, generic (and secular) Holiday. (This link to a story in World Net Daily provides background, should any be required.)

I'm not one of those who tries to banish Christmas from the public vocabulary. Just the opposite: I decry the suffocating political correctness that leads people in the vestibule of my church, after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, to wish one another a "Happy Holiday" -- fearful that any other greeting may give offense. In church! (And don't tell me this doesn't happen; I've seen it.) But why is it so wrong for President and Mrs. Bush to send out a greeting card that quotes a Psalm and wishes the recipient a Happy Holiday? The Washington Post reported that some religious conservatives were deeply offended, charging that the Bushes had somehow caved to secularists in the culture wars. It might have been better for the White House to send actual Christmas cards to those on its mailing list that are likely to celebrate Christmas -- and this more generic Holiday card to non-Christians and anyone else whose beliefs were not known with certainty. But surely there's no "sin" (religious term used advisedly here) in the President's attempt at being inclusive.

No, what offends me on the White House card are the dogs: Apparently the current Bush family dogs are included frolicking in front of the evergreen tree that has been painted in front of the White House for the occasion. On the basis of the picture I saw, I couldn't tell whether these were just generic mutts or intended portraits of the actual D.C. dogs -- but assuming that they really are the Bush family dogs, the Bushes have caved, not to secularism, but to the execrable practice of sending pictures of one's pets as if they were children. Pets may be loyal companions and faithful friends -- pets can be a great comfort, especially to the elderly and homebound. But pets are not children.

Children aren't as easily housebroken.