Controversies

Nobody is actually upset about the Starbucks cup. Stop saying otherwise

Nov. 10, 2015 - Customer carries coffee in a red cup outside Starbucks coffee shop at Pike Place Market in Seattle. (AP)

Nov. 10, 2015 - Customer carries coffee in a red cup outside Starbucks coffee shop at Pike Place Market in Seattle. (AP)

This commentary originally appeared on TheFederalist.com website. It is republished with permission.  

The War on Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year, doesn’t it! Here we are, just a few days into November, and already we’re battling over who is the least offended by Starbucks’ supposedly even-less-religious-than-normal holiday cup. On the one side you have people making fun of Christians for supposedly being offended by Starbuck’s very-not-religious cup. On the other, you have Christians denying that they are, in fact, upset.

I guess 2015 won’t go down as a particularly coherent year in the War on Christmas skirmishes.

For those of you who are confused, here’s a quick explanation of where things stand. On November 5, Raheem Kassam of Breitbart London wrote a pretty tongue-in-cheek report on the new “This is really not a Christmas cup but sort of vaguely holiday-themed” to-go cup from Starbucks. You can tell it was not the most earnest of jeremiads because of lines such as:

"And behold, Starbucks did conceive and bear a red cup, and called his name blasphemy."

and

"Frankly, the only thing that can redeem them from this whitewashing of Christmas is to print Bible verses on their cups next year. Not that I’d buy their burnt coffee anyway. And certainly not while they keep spelling my name ‘Ragih’ (right) on their cups."

I thought it was a totally fine piece that poked fun at the cup for being even more bland than normal, but I noticed that some of the more liberal Christians (names hidden to protect those of us who tweet impulsively) I follow were immediately aghast at this Breitbart piece, on the assumption it was meant to launch a serious War on Christmas battle.

Then some Christian shock jock type ran with it and made a video, and a set of hashtags, and Facebook links to his ad-supported web page. This, I think, is what produced not just the Christian response of “No, really, we don’t care” but the many articles claiming that Christians were freaked out by Starbucks cups. Not sure which response was first, to be honest, or if they all occurred at the same time.

New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik joked, in response to the tweet above, that we need “a snopes.com, but for whether any actual human is outraged over a reported ‘outrage.'”

This is where the story gets particularly sad, because Snopes.com is in part responsible for the faux-rage over the Starbucks claim. The site declared “false” the claim that “The coffee chain Starbucks removed all mentions of Christmas from their red holiday cups because ‘they hate Jesus.'” It cited this shock-jock video and the Breitbart London story.

I’m unable to transcribe the cry of anguish my heart is uttering over the stupidity of all this. I get that it’s fun to feel outraged, at times, but maybe all day, every day is a bit much, you know? When you have to invent some public outcry to be outraged over, you’re probably taking things too far.

If you want to have an actual discussion about the War on Christmas, a battle that has actually been raging for thousands of years and was not invented, as “The Daily Show” probably told you, by Fox News, let’s do it. But let’s not be complete idiots about it.

No, really. Let’s discuss it.

Every year we see battles over Christmas and whether it’s under siege. These battles usually take place in the public square or the market. Should town squares have Christmas trees? What about malls? Should they be renamed holiday trees? Unnamed “holy days” are less offensive than the specific holy day we all know we’re marking, right? Can government school students sing carols and not have their choir instructor sued into financial ruin? Or is it better to stick with such choral classics as “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or whatever is less offensive than a Bach Christmas cantata?

When the two sides are bullies and protesters who have nothing better to complain about, it’s easier still to simply root for casualties.

For more on this story from The Federalist click here.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. A longtime journalist, her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Mollie was a 2004 recipient of a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellowship. Reach her at mzhemingway@thefederalist.com

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