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War on Christmas comes to Minnesota
The religious right's annual "War on Christmas" is ramping up early this year, and at least one Minnesota-based company is on its hit list. For the past few years, the American Family Association has targeted retail corporations that use the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas" in their holiday marketing. On Thursday, the group said it's a trend that began with the Nazis.
AFA lists Eden Prairie-based SUPERVALU, which runs Cub Foods, as a "retailer against Christmas" because the company "refers to Christmas decorations as 'holiday' on website and weekly ads."
Bloomington-based Best Buy does a little better, making the list under "Companies marginalizing 'Christmas.'" Best Buy was the AFA's primary target in 2006, but ended up capitulating.
Minneapolis-based Target is the state's only retail corporation listed among "Companies FOR 'Christmas'" by the AFA. Target incurred the wrath of the AFA's first War on Christmas campaign in 2005 with a massive Christian boycott. The company relented in mid-December of that year in response to AFA pressure.
The AFA's main target in the War on Christmas this year is the Gap, Inc., and its subsidiaries Old Navy and Banana Republic. On Nov. 11, the AFA launched a two-month boycott of those brands.
"Last year, Gap issued this politically-correct statement to Christmas shoppers: 'Gap recognizes that many traditions are celebrated throughout this season and we feel it is important to display holiday signage that is inclusive to everyone,'" wrote the AFA. "Christmas is special because of Jesus. It's not just a 'winter holiday.' For millions of Americans the giving and receiving of gifts is in honor of the One who gave Himself. For the Gap to pretend that isn't the foundation of the Christmas season is political correctness at best and religious bigotry at worst."
The Gap responded with an ad campaign that does include the word "Christmas," but remained true to their commitment to be inclusive. The ad features young adults in a holiday cheer:
Two, Four, Six, Eight, now's the time to liberate
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanzaa, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.
The AFA was not amused.
"Did you notice it? Gap compares Christmas to the pagan holiday called 'Solstice.' Solstice is celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft!" cried the AFA in a press release.
In a statement the Gap accused the AFA of dishonesty. "Our brands have periodically used Christmas in their holiday season advertising. With this year's Gap and Old Navy ads, we hope that the AFA will update its Web site, which has claimed that Gap Inc. 'refused to use the word Christmas in its advertising,'" the statement said. "This is untrue."
While the AFA is targeting domestic retailers, their rationale goes back to Nazi Germany.
On Thursday, Bryan Fischer, AFA Director of Issues Analysis, penned an article called, "Nazis Started War Against Christmas," which inexplicably conflates the Gap's advertising with Nazi "holiday" ornaments.
He refers to a Daily Mail article about secular Christmas ornaments used in Germany during the rise of the Nazis to make the case that the Nazis were atheists.
"The Daily Mail story refers to 'the atheist Nazis, who tried to turn (Christmas) into a pagan winter solstice celebration,'" he wrote. "Can you say 'Hello, Gap?' The Gap responded to pressure from the American Family Association about the absence of 'Christmas' in their advertising by producing a commercial that does mention Christmas, but then adds 'Go Solstice' in the next breath."
He continued, "The Nazis hated Christmas for one simple reason: it celebrates the birth of a Jew. The left hates Christmas because it celebrates the birthday of the first Christian. But isn't there something faintly anti-Semitic about that? After all, Christians can hardly be accused of systemic racism when we believe the Savior of the world lived his life on earth as a Jew."
©2009 Minnesota Independent