Pixel Tracker

Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 9:43 pm | Fair 52º

 
 
 

David Sirota: ‘Tis the Season for Fake Outrage

Christian zealots manufacture victimhood in a self-righteous attempt to push their faith on others

One of the defining qualities of late December is the predictable and ritualized nature of America’s holiday season. Other than discovering what’s inside the wrapped gift boxes, there’s no mystery or suspense to it anymore. The Christmas music starts right before Thanksgiving. Then come the flickering lights, the red-and-green decor, Hollywood’s vacation movie blitz, and finally, with media charlatans turning the key, the fake outrage machine rumbles back to life.

Like a narcissist’s souped-up 4-by-4, this turbocharged colossus of self-righteous indignation makes a lot of noise and leaves a mess in its wake — but ultimately says a lot more about its drivers’ pitiable insecurities than anything else.

This year has been particularly illustrative, as the fake outrage machine has caricatured itself like a Bigfoot-esque monster truck in a desperate bid for attention. In just the past few weeks, the Heritage Foundation billed an Agriculture Department initiative to raise revenue for tree farmers as a “Christmas Tree Tax”; Fox News said that standard federal safety warnings were proof that the government wants to “tell you how to decorate your Christmas tree”; and conservative activists criticized Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, for daring to consecrate a “holiday tree” — rather than a “Christmas tree” — at the Statehouse.

Meanwhile, under the headline “‘Modern Grinches’ Step Up Anti-Christmas Efforts,” the Christian Broadcasting Network lashed out at cities for trying to respect the separation of church and state at holiday time, and the American Family Association continued its annual effort to denigrate companies that substitute “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas.”

To know that this machine’s outrage is indeed fake is to appreciate some telling facts about the alleged transgressions. For instance, the government’s recent revenue and regulatory moves were entirely routine and nonreligious, while Gov. Chafee was just preserving a long-standing tradition in a state founded as a haven for religious pluralism. Similarly, many cities are still including Christmas in their winter festivities — they are just including other celebrations as well. And if saying “Happy Holidays” somehow represents a “War on Christmas,” then none other than Christian icon Tim Tebow must be one of the aggressors’ lead field generals, what with the NFL quarterback now appearing in a television ad wishing Coloradans “Happy Holidays” — not “Merry Christmas.”

These facts, of course, are no deterrent to the fake outrage machine, because the machine’s operators aren’t really interested in preventing religious bigotry. In a majority-Christian nation whose politics and culture are steeped in Christianity, these zealots are interested in pretending their fellow Christians are somehow oppressed, contradictory facts be damned.

In propagating such an illusion, they’re not earnestly embodying their religion’s missionary spirit. Instead, they’re manufacturing victimhood, all to gin up sympathy and create a rationale to continue ramrodding their theology down everyone else’s throats.

That some feel this need to push their faith with such craven tactics speaks volumes about the nature of spiritual self-doubt today. Sure, our tumultuous world of bombast and chaos leads us to assume that the loudest are the most devout. But in practice, those who are truly comfortable in their faith are often the most humble about their orthodoxies because they have nothing to prove. By contrast, those who are the most insecure in their beliefs can sometimes be the most in-your-face about their dogma.

In that sense, there’s a “doth protest too much” tenor to the roar of the fake outrage machine. That self-indicting message may be difficult to detect amid all the exploding ordnance in the War on Christmas, but it’s there — and the more the machine revs its engines every December, the more that message comes through.

David Sirota is the best-selling author of the new book Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now and blogs at OpenLeft.com. Click here for more information. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter: @davidsirota.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.