Mollie Hemingway recaps the chain of events by noting that on November 5, Raheem Kassam of Breitbart London wrote what she accurately describes as “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” and points out its tongue-in-cheekness through the use of lines like “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.
And that is exactly what happened. When I first started seeing mention of this non-controversy, it was zero-percent from outraged Christians, who were no where to be found, and 100% from hippies mocking the “war on Christmas trope”.
In response to the people talking about the outrage, some people started trickling in joining the dialog with low-level notation of the removal of Christmas imagery being unfortunate. And that’s it. In fact – I’m one of those people: I didn’t notice and didn’t care and continue to not care, but while other people are talking about it, I’m going to add my 2 cents in that yes, it’s a lame move that the Christmas imagery was deleted from an international chains seasonal cuppery. That was the totality of the buzz on this issue until a Christian shock jock made a laughably stupid video in where he is seen transparently leveraging the semi-trending topic for his own gain while doing what essentially amounted to a commercial for Starbucks and his clownish self.
On November 5, Josh Feuerstein, an Arizona preacher, Facebook vertical video ranter, and Fred Durst-style backwards cap-wearer, basically a Christian version of Howard Stern, posted a 1-minute 18-second video about a red-hued mass-produced beverage receptible. You see, he went to Starbucks to get his morning cup of coffee and was handed a simple red cup. He immediately felt triggered by this holiday-colored but not holiday-decorated design, so he retreated to his safe space of portrait-oriented internet video and expressed this offense to the world.
And horrifically, the world listened. As of this writing Feuerstein’s video has 12,247,900 views, 153,895 likes, 447,838 shares, and 36,094 comments. Normally I don’t recommend reading comments on internet posts, but in this case it’s illuminating.
In the video, Feuerstein claims to have “tricked” Starbucks into putting Christmas on their cups by telling them his name was “Merry Christmas” so that when his beverage was ready, that would be the marker on the cup and then he encourages everyone watching to do the same (and to of course connect using a hashtag that promotes himself in this silly exercise).
This stunt and the attention it got only raised the volume on the previous version of the sentiment on this non-topic: No one caring about the cups, but as long as it’s showing up everywhere as a headlined discussion allegedly going on, most people say that the design change was for the worse. That’s it. No protests or organized boycott sweeping the nation, or even any national commentators jumping on board claiming these coffee cups are an outrage of any kind. Yet there *have* been plenty headlines claiming that is the case, as opportunists have found themselves unable to pass at the prospect of making Christians looking like the perpetually outraged idiots we keep seeing from hippies in service to politically Leftist causes.
But while any real controversy fails to actually manifest, the “War on Christmas” of course re-appears as it does every year. As Mollie Hemingway reminds:
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?
Stories about the battles are easy to write. When the two sides are politically correct bullies and supposedly pious protesters who have nothing better to complain about, it’s easier still to simply root for casualties. But what if we didn’t just respond to shock jocks trolling for traffic and revenue-generating clicks and instead thought through the tension between commercialization and sacralization of holy days?