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RANT: From coffee cups to remembrance to refugees - we are getting it ALL wrong

There’s an insidious either/or mentality invading our political lexicon that I think is actually becoming an outstandingly effective camouflage for genuine evil, and it’s making me crazy to see how few people seem to realize how totally they are being manipulated by it.

It starts off benign enough – in fact, in such a stupid way that no person with any perspective whatsoever will buy into it. Of course, I’m talking about the Starbucks coffee-cup scandal, in which certain (and obviously psychotic, in my opinion) people decided that Starbucks should design and use cups with riotous festive scenes or they must hate Christmas. Because Starbucks instead went with a minimalist (but still red, green and white, and thus Christmassy) design, they were accused of ‘declaring war on Christmas’. Anyone moronic enough to actually be swayed by such nonsense is of no concern to me – I’m sure they’re too busy trying to find someone to help them tie their shoelaces, or figuring out how to order a club sandwich without actually joining, to ever effect any change that might trouble the more-than-semi-conscious people around them, myself included.

More troublesome, because it’s an argument that may actually sway a few people, is the notion that you either say, ‘Merry Christmas’, or you hate Christmas and you’re somehow robbing ME of MY holiday. LOTS of people in our country do not subscribe to the Christian faith, but they get Christmas crammed down their throats anyway.  They have to give their employees the day off or much higher wages for the day, their children are sent home from school for weeks, and they are absolutely drowned in Christmas hype everywhere they look: TV, radio, online, in stores, even just driving down the street. Not participating is, to some degree, simply non-optional. But if they try to participate in a way that doesn’t dishonour their own traditions and beliefs by offering kind sentiments like ‘Seasons Greetings’ or ‘Happy Holidays’,  some people will actually be vicious with them (I swear it’s true, I’ve actually seen it, and promptly lost all respect for the people doing it). It’s one of the most anti-Christian, self-involved, arrogant, ugly behaviours I’ve ever seen. THAT is the kind of crap that robs ME of MY holiday, thank you very much. The people who do this must live very charmed lives, if the worst reason they can find to get their knickers in a knot is someone being nice to them.

Next up is a very powerful either/or, partly because it has some underlying merit, and partly because the issue that sparked it is such an emotive one: I can either put my Christmas lights up before Remembrance Day, or I can honour or respect my veterans … but there are those who say I can’t do both. The merit this has, in my opinion, is that I agree that media, retailers, and government institutions should focus more on Remembrance Day in the weeks leading up to same than they do on Christmas, and I can empathize with veterans being offended they don’t. But to be bullied and criticized because I put up lights in or around my personal home? (Yes, I’ve heard several accounts of this happening right here in Castlegar.) The enjoyment I take in twinkly lights has exactly nothing – ZERO – to do with the love, respect and remembrance I offer our veterans, and so far as I’m concerned, the real either/or here is this: Did you fight for my right to express myself and celebrate my religious holidays in whatever manner I choose … or didn’t you?

I would think if someone wanted a real jumping off place to discuss dishonouring vets or a war on the values underlying the Christmas tradition, they’d talk about 25,000 Syrian refugees, and how the Ship of Fools during WW II should’ve taught us something, and how caring for your fellow man is supposed to be a fundamental aspect of Christmas.

But, of course, they don’t. It’s so, so easy to manipulate people by saying, “Either we pay for our own homeless, poverty-stricken or veterans … or we pay for the refugees.”

What an unbelievable lie. If it were that simple, if it really was either our own poor or the refugees, then why did we have starving vets, homelessness and poverty before the refugee issue ever came up? We obviously had some money, or we wouldn’t have any to help refugees now, so why weren’t we helping our own before Syria ever became an issue?

Here’s why: The problem was never a lack of money, it was a lack of political will. The people who are now trying to trick you into believing the refugees are taking food from the mouths of our own poor are the exact same ones who were, before Syria, screaming that we spend too much on the poor, the homeless, etc., and spouting nonsense about people ‘pulling themselves up by their bootstraps’. They’re the ones who declared war on welfare recipients long, long ago. The politically astute among them know we had no political will to house our homeless either way, or we simply would have done it. We can pay for corporate tax breaks, infrastructure, multi-million-dollar federal ad campaigns, wars against other countries – the money’s always been there.  If you want someone to blame for poverty and homelessness, look, not to refugees, but to our priorities. Anything else is a lie.

It’s worse than even that, though.

It’s actually cooperating with pure evil. There’s an estimated 30,000 people fighting for ISIS, and 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. But ISIS is – because of our neighbours’ and coworkers’ willingness to buy in – winning a war promoting mass bigotry and hatred/fear of all Muslims. ISIS is saying the Syrian refugees are their people, to murder and torture as they please, and they’re doing their best to scare us into refusing said people any kind of succor or safe place. And it’s working. A perfect example is the way the Liberal government came under attack for moving so quickly – we have all the resources we need to rapidly screen the refugees, but ISIS has scared us badly enough that we’ve put the brakes on doing so.

Just a reminder - the Paris attacks were conducted, not by refugees, but by French nationals.

Would you, if you saw a house burning down, stop to check your account balance before you pitched in to help? Would you ask around about the occupants before you offered a hand? Of course not. For these refugees, it’s not just their house burning down – it’s their entire country. The speed the government proposed was not sloppy – it was an effort to literally save lives.

But ISIS won. They created a public backlash great enough to slow the Canadian government’s timeline. They’ve created a terror of all Muslim people that stretches across the entire First World. They’ve largely isolated millions of people from the rest of the global community, leaving them to fight, starve, die, suffer.  Just 30,000 evil people were able to accomplish this - This is different from the Nazis, HOW?!

And they were able to do it because we not only let them, we helped them.

Here’s the real either/or scenario: Either we stop playing into the hands of the greatest evil of the New Millennium so far, or we no longer have a right to say, ‘Lest we forget’, because we already have. And we’ve robbed ourselves of our own holiday, because Christmas – you know, the real one, espousing love and charity and kindness – has lost all meaning.

I leave you with one last thought: Jesus Christ was a Middle-eastern refugee.