I get daily updates from Newsmax.com to monitor right-wing silliness. On Boxing Day 2010, the second item was as follows”
“2. NPR’s Totenberg Laments ‘Christmas’ Comment
“NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg took political correctness to new heights when she actually apologized on-air for using the word ‘Christmas.’
“During an appearance on the Dec. 19 edition of the TV news show ‘Inside Washington,’ Totenberg said: ‘We just passed this huge tax cut in part because business said, you know, we have to plan, we have to know what kind of tax cuts we have. Well, these agencies, including the Defense Department, don’t know how much money they’ve got and for what. And I was at — forgive the expression — a Christmas party at the Department of Justice and people actually were really worried about this.’ ”
You may scroll through the rest of the item to learn how Newsmax discerned that Ms. Totenberg was lamenting rather than, say, commenting archly on how carefully one must choose one’s labels in the 21st century. I predict you will find nothing that reveals how Newsmax decoded the comment.
What [barely] interested me about this item was that Ms. Totenberg might have been very close to agreeing with or sympathizing with the “War on Christmas” that Bill O’Reilly has espied and exploited or the politically correct usages that Newsmax lamented. You know that propagandists are experiencing intellectual and conceptual difficulties when they reconstruct comments that could be read as friendly into salvos from opponents.
Taking matters to an extreme is nothing new for Newsmax. However, toting Totenberg to an extreme that might have been many degrees removed from her intended meaning struck me as an implicit confession that Newsmax had nothing much the day after Christmas.
That’s a problem with the fancied “War on Christmas” — no matter how I exaggerate that war, the war’s “sell by” date seldom begins “January.”