Paredolia? I Hardly Know Ya

I was getting pretty burnt out on the nominally monotheistic superimposition of humanity’s longtime practice of observing the winter solstice. Wow, that looks so liberal.  The music is horrible, and there are really only a few songs. The marketing alchemists have done such an amazing  job of transmuting human decency into gold and they seem to start mining our hearts earlier and earlier every year. Expending a ridiculous amount of resources in the winter seems pretty counter-intuitive, but most cultures have done it or do it, except Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Love can make one generally less bitter, and age can sometimes impart wisdom, especially in the choosing of battles. Christmas is invulnerable under current US realities, so I meekly go with the flow, the tide being inescapable. Being no fan of winter, I’ll celebrate anything that means the days are getting longer. My new favorite seasonal mainstay though, is the “War On Christmas“.

Right-wing culture warriors and pundits can be hilarious, since their whole shtick is based on removing as much context as they can, from the subject. The refusal to acknowledge the role of the US in fattening Saddam Hussein and what would be come al Qaeda, is a good example. Like all alleged attacks on Christianity in the US, the removal of the reality that the dominant culture in the US is both Christian and Consumer leads me to wonder if their “War on Christmas” is the classical right-wing anti-Semitism bubbling to the surface.  Some of them want the world to end and need the IDF’s help to do a little urban renewal on the Temple Mount among other things and the antagonism between state of Israel and its Arab neighbors appeals to the 21st century Crusader mentality. Another removal of context takes place, when criticism of Israeli policy is labeled as anti-Semitism.

Bill O'Reilly-Going French On Us?

Bill O'Reilly-Going French On Us?

With the economy in a downturn, the “War on Christmas” rhetoric has been sadly but not mysteriously turned down. We even witnessed a good old timey human scarifice to Mammon. There’s still tons of crap you can buy, to make people squirm, and O’Reilly is generously donating a strange bumper sticker with the purchase of his latest book. The ire is pretty much squarely focused on one toy, a talking baby doll that allegedly exhorts toddlers to convert to Islam with it’s baby babble.

A few years ago, there was a movie released with electronic voice phenomena (EVP) at the center of the plot. EVP refers to people who think that dead people are communicating with them though radio and TV static and the like. I’ve also seen a talk show with some of these cases on it, and the sounds were definitely creepy, but much like the backwards masking conspiracies of my childhood, I just couldn’t hear the words they alleged that the static was “using”. It’s the same with the doll, which allegedly says “Islam is the light”.I couldn’t hear it and neither could some audio expert.

I’m not sure when it was released, but an  review of the toy from earlier this year makes no reference to the conspiracy, but as soon as the tinfoil hat types decided the jihadis at Mattel were converting their children, the comments section began to fill up with this sectarian hysteria. Like many conspiracies popular amongst the right-wing, it doesn’t stand if you return it to the big picture. Why would a big US toy company try to convert its customers (and future customers) to religion that has proven to be hostile to US style consumer capitalism? Why would Mattel possibly think no one would notice and make a fuss? How could such a secret be kept with the kinds of communication technology most in the US have access to?

Were I a sociology grad student, I’d be all over this one. It could be neat to track the epidemiology of a pareidolia, a big, new word I learned today. This century has been quite a disappointment.

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