Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Stewart on Fox’s “War on Christmas” & O’Reilly’s philosophy

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Last night, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show once again took Fox News to task for its ridiculous one-news-channel campaign against the mythical “War on Christmas” by those annoying iconoclastic atheists, and then rounded on Bill O’Reilly over his even-stupider-than-usual declaration that Christianity is somehow a “philosophy” rather than a religion.

(The segment does include a couple of swipes at atheists which, while presumably intended as humorous and satirical, kind of miss the point – secularists are only interested in upholding the Establishment Clause in order to promote fair and equal treatment for all. It would’ve been helpful if Stewart had acknowledged that little detail.)

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Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

[12/03/12: The War on Christmas: Friendly Fire Edition]

JON STEWART: Speaking of Christmas, you’re probably aware by now our nation’s been embroiled in a long and bitter war.

FOX NEWS HOST #1 [11/19/12]: The first salvo in the War on Christmas.

BILL O’REILLY [11/29/12]: The War on Christmas.

FOX NEWS HOST #2 [11/22/12]: A War on Christmas.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN [11/29/12]: War on Christmas.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE [11/28/12]: War on Christmas.

STEWART: WAR ON CHRISTMAS! It’s not to be confused with ‘GWAR: On Christmas’ – tremendous Christmas album. [?]

For years now, Christmas has been under attack, defended only by the brave souls of Fox News. Are they still up to the task? That is the subject of tonight’s “War on Christmas: Friendly Fire Edition”.

Let’s face facts: The annual Fox War on Christmas – eeeeh, become a little predictable. It’s basically – I imagine you could make one up with a Make Fox News Mad Libs. So, let’s see, let’s try to do one of these. Last week, in – I need the name of some godless liberal bastion.

STEVE DOOCY: Santa Monica.

STEWART: Okay, Santa Monica, that’ll do. Let me just fill in Santa Monica, there. And, uh, in Santa Monica, a group of – gimme the name of a small group of annoying people with incredibly limited control over our culture.

FOX NEWS HOST #3: Atheists.

STEWART: Okay, atheists will do, that’s right. Everyone’s favorite uncle that lives in “Oregon” no-one ever sees.

So, a group of atheists have ruined Christmas by forcing the removal of – I need a classic Christmas symbol.

BRIAN KILMEADE: Ass. [laughs]

STEWART: Dammit, Brian, we’re trying to do something, here! Go sit in the car.

FOX NEWS HOST #4: A nativity scene

STEWART: Thank you! Nativity scene. (At least some people are still grownups over there.)

All right, so we’re done. Let’s see if we can put that all together, shall we?

FOX NEWS HOST #3 [11/20/12]: Atheists seem to have ended a sixty-year-old Christmas tradition in Santa Monica, California.

FOX NEWS HOST #5 [11/22/12]: A federal judge backing Santa Monica’s decision to no longer allow nativity scenes at a public park.

STEWART: Oh my God, that is such an out—! [snores]

It’s as though the War on Christmas has become a rote observance, devoid of all its original spiritual meaning. Even its most ardent proponents have seen doubt creep in.

GRETCHEN CARLSON [11/28/12]: Now, a lot of people, for whatever reason, will look at this interview today and they’ll say, “Gretchen Carlson and Doreen Costa are nuts. They’re so nuts, because they think there’s this made-up War on Christmas.” We’re not nuts, are we? There is a War on Christmas!

STEWART: … As a general rule, if you’re trying to tell whether you and one other person are nuts, ask a third person. Preferably someone outside the asylum. But since you asked the question, “Am I nuts to think there’s a War on Christmas?” it’s only polite for me to offer you a resounding, “Yes, you’re [fucking] nuts.”

Because, for whatever annoying local ticky-tack, Christmas-abolishing story you and your merry band of persecution-seeking researchers can scour the wires to turn up, the rest of us can’t swing a dead elf without knocking over an inflatable snow globe or a giant blinking candy cane. For God’s sakes, Fox News itself is located in midtown Manhattan, the epicenter of all that is godless, secular, gay, Jewey and hell-bound. And yet, even here, all around your studio, it looks like Santa’s balls exploded. (That is a hypothesis.)

You know, in the old days, before the War on Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ lasted a daylike birthdays do. And then, it seeped into the night before Christmas – the eve, if you will – and the next thing you know, we were riding this thing all the way to Epiphany! Fine, twelve days. Gave time for the lords to leap and geese to lay, and partridges to … pair, and gold to ring and – it’s just twelve days of servants and [fucking] poultry! Whatever!

But it still wasn’t enough. There’s a war on Christmas? Has anyone told Thanksgiving? ’Cause this year, Black Friday, aka Christmas’s opening bell, got moved back a day to Black Thursday, or as we used to call it, Thanksgiving! Christmas is so big now, it’s eating other holidays. Watch your ass, Halloween, you’re next.

Let me ask you a question: Do atheists land an occasional blow? I guess. Even the Washington Generals get lucky once in a while. But when you look at the overall record between the two teams, for God’s sakes, there are radio stations that play nothing but Christmas carols. Stores that sell nothing but Christmas decorations all year long. There is a TV channel devoted to a Yule log – and it’s kicking CNN’s ass in the ratings.

But don’t worry, non-log-burning channels. There’s Christmas programs for you as well. There’s old-timey traditional Christmas programming, really old-timey Dickensian Christmas special programming, new-timey hey hey hey! urban Christmas specials, Mormon Christmas specials, country-western Christmas specials, chipmunk Christmas specials, otter Christmas specials, bear Christmas specials, cat Christmas specials, large-headed-child Christmas specials, gay Christmas, Jewish Christmas, whatever-the-[fuck]-this-is Christmas, Christmas under water, Christmas from the future, prehistoric Christmas! That’s right: There’s a Christmas special celebrating Jesus’s birth thousands of years before the birth of Jesus!

[12/04/12: The War on Christmas: Friendly Fire Edition - Bill O'Reilly's Philosophy]

JON STEWART: That is a holiday that is not in danger. There is so much Christmas all over the place, it’s getting harder for Christmas’s defenders to fight for Christmas without accidentally doing damage to it. Which brings us to our friendly fire incident. Watch what happens when our good friend, Bill O’Reilly, takes the atheists’ bait.

BILL O’REILLY [11/28/12]: What religion is involved with Christmas? What religion?


O’REILLY: That’s not a religion. That’s a philosophy.


SILVERMAN: So, you’re gonna actually tell me on live television that Christianity is not a religion?

O’REILLY: Correct. It is a philosophy.

STEWART: Noooooooo! Why, Bill, why, Bill, why? Have you learned nothing from our friendship? You just handed that atheist another thing he can’t [fucking] believe!

Christianity is a religion. Christianity has a philosophical element, but there is a difference between a philosophy and a religion. For instance, let’s look at Socrates and Jesus. They have a lot in common: loose-fitting clothing, beards, sandals, teaching through parable, martyrdom. But here’s where we find the distinction between philosophy and religion. After their martyrdom, one of them got better. I’ll give you a hint: It’s the one who ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? It’s Jesus! No? We bestow one of them tax-exempt status.

Why isn’t Christianity a religion?

O’REILLY [11/29/12]: Christianity is not an organized religion, a church that can imposed. […] Christianity is a philosophy. You don’t have to believe Jesus is God in order to admire his view on life.

STEWART: No. But you have to believe Jesus is God to be a Christian. For instance, I like a lot of Jesus’s philosophy: love your neighbor, cheek-turning, stone-not-casting – it’s very nice. But while I can get an ‘A’ in his philosophy class, I don’t get to go to the after-party. You get what I’m saying here, Bill? So, you wanna do this at my place or your place? ’Cause [Yiddish] I’m [fucked].

While I’m on the subject, it seems fitting to revisit what might be the definitive “War on Christmas” Daily Show segment from 2010 (originally posted here), where the whole team took a sledgehammer to the final nail in the War on Christmas’s coffin:

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Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

JON STEWART: We all tend to forget that Jews aren’t the only ones celebrating this holiday season. (Of course, who could blame us?) The other big seasonal holidays have been all but crushed by forces banded against them.

GRETCHEN CARLSON [12/06/10]: The Tulsa Christmas Parade of Lights has been a tradition in Oklahoma for nearly seventy years. But parade organizers have now stripped the word ‘Christmas’ from the event’s title and changed it to the Tulsa Holiday Parade of Lights despite outrage from the community.

STEWART: Oh my God! Oh my God! The seasonal parade in America’s 47th largest city changed its name! Last year! And Gretchen apparently just found out about it, and is about to open up a can of freedom-ass on the chairman of Tulsa’s Parade of Lights.

CARLSON: Guess I’m just trying to get a sense of why, after 70 years, you would change the name?

TULSA PARADE CHAIRMAN: Well, again, I think it was to be more reflective of what we actually [?] […] People, I think, make way too much of the name.

CARLSON: Really? ’Cause I think a lot of people feel just the opposite, Larry. […] Why? Why change the name? […] It sounds like it was a business decision, like a sponsor was gonna pull supporting it unless you changed it to ‘Holiday’?

CHAIRMAN: Uh, I think that’s an overstatement.

CARLSON: Well then, what is it?

STEWART: “What is it? What is it? Uh, it’s the holiday parade to make the children of Tulsa smile? Santa comes in and throws some candy? What have I done to Tulsa?! I’ve ruined Christmas!”

Course, Gretchen’s not throwing the first stone; she’s throwing the third stone.

CARLSON: Some people are not gonna participate in this parade as a result of it not being called the Christmas Parade. The Acres of Love Alpaca Farmers, they’re not gonna participate, and then, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has also decided he will not participate.

STEWART: No alpacas and no Jim Inhofe. Nietzsche was right: God is dead.

Of course, the parade isn’t the real victim, here.

CHAIRMAN: Fortunately, the parade will not suffer in terms of the quality or quantity of entries because of this.

CARLSON: Many people argue just Christmas will suffer.

STEWART: By “many people”, do you mean “one pretty lady wearing a purple sweater”? Gretchen, Christmas survived the Roman Empire. I think it can handle the renaming of the Tulsa parade. Frankly, Gretchen, I think the bearded guy you’re protecting [picture: Santa Clause] might be the wrong bearded guy. [picture: Jesus]

But I admit, the season wouldn’t feel the same without people going out of their way to be offended by nothing. When did all that begin?

SNOWMAN (JON STEWART V.O.): Well, hello! Beautiful day, isn’t it? Yes, sir, I’d say this is shaping up to be the best birthday party for Jesus yet. That’s right, I said Jesus. You got a problem with that? I hope you do. Because petty arguments about a holiday celebrating the birth of our Savior is as American as apple pie. It’s called the War on Christmas, and it happens every year. But it wasn’t always that way.

TITLE: The First War on Christmas

SNOWMAN: Started off like any other Christmas. Trees were trimmed, stockings were hung by the fireplace. There was only one problem: It seemed with all the peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, people just plum forgot to be offended by the petty bull[shit] that superficially divides us.

That’s right: I said bull[shit].

POSTMAN (JOHN OLIVER V.O.): This card says “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!”. I’ll take that as a well-intentioned greeting rather than a rejection of my faith.

FRANKLIN FROM ‘PEANUTS’ (WYATT CENAC V.O.): Can I put up some Kwanzaa decorations?

PEPPERMINT PATTY FROM ‘PEANUTS’ (JESSICA WILLIAMS V.O.): Sure, no problem. It won’t affect my Christmas.


MAN RIDING DOG: It’s the PC police. What’s wrong, officer? Gonna give us a ticket for not including a Menorah in our religious display?

POLICEMAN: No! Even though I’m Jewish, I’m secure enough in my own beliefs that I don’t need to be included in every holiday. [Yiddish salutation]

SNOWMAN: Yes sirree Bob, looked like Christmas was going to come and go without any ginned-up outrage about some city council in Bum[fuck], Iowa renaming their nativity scene a multi-denominational frankincense party. No-one even seemed to notice, except for one sad little boy. Because even though Christmas was by far the most dominant cultural event in the history of cultural events, he felt empty without some sense that the people celebrating it were somehow being persecuted. And so, he prayed.

That’s right: I said “prayed”.

But sadly, it was all for naught. Until … something magical happened.

First, in the dark of night, came a flicker. And then, just a ticker. [picture: Fox News logo] And then, a great noise, like someone jumped on a clicker!

BILL O’REILLY: You can’t say “Merry Christmas”, and you support the ban! You are the fascist!

FOX NEWS HOST #1: There’s been a War on Christmas from the secular culture for three or four decades now.

FOX NEWS HOST #2: There’s a War on Christmas with some people in this country, particularly atheists.

O’REILLY: An anti-religion sign right next to the nativity scene.

SNOWMAN: The more people watched, the more they got sicker, sicker and sicker ’til every last one came to quarrel and bicker.

LINUS: Atheist!


LUCY: Jew!

PATTY: Socialist!


SNOWMAN: Old Roger Ailes couldn’t believe what he heard! He took delight in each unkind word. People who were there said his heart shrunk three sizes that day. It was a War on Christmas miracle.

As for that little boy whose prayer had enthused, he was given a show right there on Fox News.

LINUS: Tonight on Linus’s America: Are Christians an endangered species? Are the Founding Fathers’ wishes for a Christian America being trampled upon? I’ll talk to my all-American panel featuring Snoopy, Pigpen, and Stephen Baldwin. [trumpet sounds while Baldwin talks] Suck it, Charlie Brown.

CHILDREN: [dancing] Yay, Christmas is saved! [assemble Christmas tree; singing] Fox News!