Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ben Stein Explains His Holiday Confession

Hello, I’m Ben Stein. You may know me from minor roles in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Wonder Years as an unenthusiastic teacher. You might know me from Win Ben Stein’s Money as the unenthusiastic game show host, or from my role as the unenthusiastic shill for Clear Eyes eye drops.

Or, maybe you know me from my enthusiastic condemnation of the politically correct terminology used during the holid---CHRISTMAS season. My Confessions for the Holiday has turned into a meme that gets passed around during the CHRISTMAS season since 2005. In it, I mention the absurdity of the politically correct terminology we use during this season in America. Why should people feel obligated to say "Happy Holidays" isntead of "Merry Christmas"? Even the White House has stopped calling their obvious Christmas Tree what it is, a Christmas Tree, and instead they are calling it a Holiday Tree.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I did not write my Confessions for the Holiday piece in response to that decision by the White House. The "White House Holiday Tree" part of the meme/email was added in 2009. I don’t even know who added that, but I love it.

Even though it’s definitely not true. The White House still calls it a Christmas tree and the Obamas very openly celebrate Christmas and wish others a Merry Christmas every year they've been in office.

But doesn't it feel like something the ultra liberals would do? It sure does. And when a well-respected eye drop spokesperson like myself speaks up about it, it causes a righteous fury in a certain segment of the population who enjoy viewing themselves as victims being persecuted by a secular horde. Or a Muslim horde. Or a Hindu horde. Some kind of horde, to be sure.

Which works out great for me because I get to sell books and go on talk shows exploiting that righteous fury. Merry Christmas, indeed.

Now, the rest of the meme/email is 100% true. Ok, maybe like 55% true. At least, true in the sense that I, Ben Stein, actually wrote it. Unfortunately, I didn’t write much of the text that is being passed around these days. That whole thing about Dr. Benjamin’s son committing suicide? Not true. But using a well known doctor’s son to manipulate people’s emotions and religious beliefs during the holiday season is my idea of fun!

The part that I really did write was about the offense people take to the term "Merry Christmas." All of this "happy holidays" nonsense. Why should I have to embrace everyone who might be celebrating any number of religious or non-religious holidays between November and New Years? Love and acceptance is not what Christmas is all about. It is strictly about celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Ignore the fact that everyone still says Merry Christmas, from your Korean atheist neighbor, to the sales clerk wearing a turban, to my Jewish relatives, to the exchange students at the local university, to basically every commercial on tv around this time. Forget about the serious issues we have as a society with the extreme commercialism we exhibit at the holiday season. I could talk about that, or the fact that Christmas constantly overshadows all other religious holidays and the ramifications of our overly Christian-centric worldview, but none of that draws the same emotional reaction as saying "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

If I discussed serious issues like commercialism, getting riled up would require people to actually confront their own attitudes and do something about poverty and other social ills. By constantly invoking this War on Christmas nonsense, people can get all riled up, and all they have to do is...get riled up. There is literally no solution to their indignation because there is no real problem.

This is a trick I learned as a speech writer for Nixon and Gerald Ford: strongly denounce some nonexistent controversy and people will focus on that instead of the real issues. It's why I vilely slandered Michael Brown as a scary thug instead of addressing any very reasonable questions surrounding police brutality in Ferguson and around the country. It's a trick the media and the government have essentially perfected at this point, so why shouldn't I get in on the act? I lost a lot of money in that damn Comedy Central game show and the only one who benefited was Jimmy Kimmel. And he doesn't even return my calls anymore.

Well, now it's Ben Stein's turn. Time to start looking out for myself.

Merry Christmas. Buy Clear Eyes.


I Love You All...Class Dismissed. 

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