Recently Ben Stein, self-styled American icon and bon vivant, spoke out against the political correctness of the term “Happy Holidays. Because he issued this “hard-hitting” editorial on Fox News, I paid about as much attention to it as I would an issuance from MSNBC. I figure, let the two networks cancel each other off and listen to NPR.
But I was suckered in this time reading all the Facebook comments. I should have stopped—and I did—but it was already too late: I’d already read “You’re my hero, Ben Stein.”
So, in order to prove I could be as big an idiot as the next guy, I commented. The last thing Ben Stein said that made any sense was “Bueller…Bueller…” and that was 28 years ago. I thought that was pretty funny. But of course my comment begot a personal response. One word: liberal.
Now it so happens that I am one, and if this person thought he was insulting me, he accomplished the opposite: my political perspective has nothing to do with being liberal, but more to do with why we as a people don’t know anything. For instance:
•Unarmed people are being killed in the streets by law enforcement officials.
•We just commemorated the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings by recognizing the fact that gun permit requests have risen since then.
•Tens of thousands of Americans were forced to work on Thanksgiving.
•Millions of Americans are paid minimum wage.
•The Walton family has as much wealth as the bottom 40% of Americans—combined.
•The new budget allows wealthy political contributors to donate ten-times what they could before. Still think your vote counts?
•Taliban extremists murdered 148 people this week, most of them children.
If Ben Stein had chosen to rail about one of these issues—even if his opinion differed from mine—I’d say, fine. But to make a “tough stand” on something meaningless distracts us from what we should be following. Right now there are more people concerned about the demise of “Merry Christmas” than there are those worried about (1) more Eric Garners and Michael Browns in our future and (2) the fact that more then forty per cent of Americans will have a very unmerry Christmas and a very unhappy holiday.
Here’s something we all know: wishing someone a Merry Christmas does not ensure one. The words we choose to express our wishes to someone do not compel that person to honor them. Many times I’ve been told to have a nice day and yet didn’t have one. I think Merry Christmas works pretty much the same way. Still, if you want to anoint Ben Stein your hero, it’s your choice. But if I can say Happy Holidays and, in so doing, cover Hanukkah (and its variant spellings), Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day, New Year’s (day and eve), Milad un Nabi, and oh yes, Christmas, where’s the harm? And if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas and I respond that I don’t celebrate it, then that’s on me—not the wisher.
Either way, there are more important topics to address as the year ebbs than the ramblings of an entertainer whose principal claim to fame was one line in a good movie twenty-eight years ago. And that goes for me too, but as I say, I was suckered in.