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HANNAN: Starbucks holiday cups are the latest casualties of the ‘War on Christmas’

Photo by Maryam Tunio

Photo by Maryam Tunio

Jack Hannan

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Our nation’s ever-growing obsession with political correctness has lead to controversy over the new Starbucks holiday cups. In what was referred to as cup-gate (a cringe-worthy phrase), Starbucks’ latest holiday cup is solid red, with none of the usual Christmas designs.

Though I do oppose the increasingly rigid enforcement of political correctness, the argument of those who are outraged by the cup’s change is petty and hypocritical.

The “War on Christmas” (an even more cringe-worthy phrase) is grossly exaggerated, but the sensitivity towards Christmas references has become severe.

I think back to my elementary school days, when my annual winter performance featured more Hanukkah and Kwanza songs than Christmas carols even though only 2 Jewish children and no Kwanza celebrators were among the students singing.

In seventh grade, my teacher overheard me wish my Christian friend “Merry Christmas,” while sitting next to my Muslim friend. She quickly corrected me: “Jack, we say Happy Holidays.” All three of us tried desperately to refrain from laughing.

Yes, we should be inclusive of all belief systems and respect their various holidays. However, it’s ridiculous to think that wishing someone a good day – holiday or otherwise – could be offensive. Everyone should be free to openly celebrate the holiday of their choice, not forced to hide it for fear of offending someone.

That being said, even though I have directly experienced hypersensitivity toward Christmas references, I have never felt personally attacked as the War on Christmas suggests. The severe overreaction to political correctness within Starbucks’ new cup design is just as extreme.

Joshua Feuerstein disagrees. He’s the guy who started the #MerryChristmasStarbucks movement which involved giving “Merry Christmas” as his name for Starbucks orders to defiantly return the cups to their rightful festive décor.

According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump was so offended by Starbucks’ ruthless attack on Christmas, he urged supporters at a Springfield, IL rally to boycott the company; selflessly vowing to terminate the lease on the Starbucks in Trump Tower despite the fact that it will cost him money.

These defenders of Christmas in the alleged war have severely overstated the oppression they’ve been made to endure. People are outraged the cups don’t say “Merry Christmas,” yet no one complained that they don’t say “Happy Hanukkah.”

It’s not like Starbucks removed every trace of Christmas from its image. The cups are still red, which is at least a subtle Christmas theme and the whole interior of the restaurants are covered in green and red decorations. That isn’t festive enough?

Not to trivialize Starbucks’ noble intentions, but it’s hard not to wonder if this whole thing was just a brilliant marketing scheme. Half the country buys their coffee to celebrate the neutral cups, while the other half buys their coffee in protest. Plus, there has been plenty of free advertising from news coverage and social media. If you boycott every brand that creates an ad campaign based on what will generate the most profit, you’re options will be pretty limited.

The fact that this whole issue was publicized heavily enough for people to understand this column is embarrassing. Our rampant political correctness and equally stupid responses to it are distracting us from the more serious issues at hand. We’re preoccupied with monitoring our “micro-aggressions” while there are major world events unfolding around us.

In the end, we’re all going to keep getting our Gingerbread lattes regardless of what they’re served in. Just drink it and direct your attention to something more important.

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