And this feeback - suggestion - applies in other areas of our lives as well. If we go on conspiracy theory websites, we will start looking for conspiracy theory "patterns" in daily life. If we go on left-wing or right-wing websites, we start looking for political patterns in daily life as well. For example, if some corporation announces layoffs, the left-wing programmed person will respond with, "That's the big corporations for you! Always screwing the little guy!" The right-wing person will respond with, "Well, that's the unions and the government for you! Choking off free enterprise and forcing this company to downsize!" The reality, of course, may be that the buggy-whip factory simply doesn't make a product anyone wants anymore, and closing is inevitable - and has nothing to do with politics (or aliens, or conspiracy theories, or whatever). If you are predisposed to see things a certain way, everything will look that way to you. Or as the Japanese say, "If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."
But in this regard, the standard of "Christmasness" has changed over time. What we (or more correctly, the religious right, whose brains are programmed a certain way, to be sure) tend to be outraged over isn't what they were outraged over in the past.
The real victims, of course, are the rest of us, who are caught in the middle, and end up in a civil war for no apparent reason whatsoever.
And maybe that is how these things happen - undamped systems going out of control when damping mechanisms are removed. You take away communism and you end up with the Bosnian war. Sunnis and Shiites go after each other, once their dictatorial governments are toppled. I am not advocating for dictatorship, just using these as examples of systems gone wildly out of control when an artificial damping mechanism is removed.
Our own Civil War was also probably an example of this. Many in the middle wanted to see slavery go away - over time. But a few "fire eaters" in the South thought slavery was a natural condition and wanted slavery expanded to new States and even countries, while abolitionists in the North felt that the Lord God was commanding them to holy battle (of the two, the Northerners were closer to being right). The result was millions dead and wounded and an economy shattered.
Could our "War on Christmas" lead to a real War down the road - with neighbor slaying neighbor? It seems far-fetched, but if you look at history, it is this sort of background drumbeat of discontent that tends to set off people over time. People go to war for the strangest reasons - or none at all. And when you ask them what they are fighting for, their reasons become remarkably elusive.
For example, ask an historian what the causes of World War I were. He will talk for an hour and wave his arms and really not give a convincing answer. Millions slaughtered for no apparent reason. The assassination of one archduke is worth the lives of millions? I don't think so. Sounds like a trumped-up excuse to me.
Osama Bid Laden came from a wealthy family. Who was he trying to overthrow? And why? The stated reason - the presence of American airbases in an Islamic country - seems like a particularly thin reed. I think the real reason is a smoldering anti-American sentiment that had been boiling on the stove for 50 years or more, amplified by each act by America which was perceived as a slight to the Arab world or to Islam. When you go looking for trouble, you are likely to find it. And in response, each act of terrorism, hostage-taking, or whatever, feeds-back the anti-Arab and anti-Islam sentiment in the USA. Wash, rinse, repeat, and you have 9/11 and two gulf wars - with more to come. Sadly, discontent in the middle east seems to be a stable system or cycle of wars, atrocities, terror attacks, and whatnot, that has gone on for over 60 years and shows no signs of stopping now.
The question we have to ask ourselves is whether our system of government and our society are really all that bad as they are, and whether it is worthwhile to destroy our country, our society, and everything with it, over perceived slights over religion, Christmas, or alleged "racial incidents".
Sadly, given the track record of humanity, I fully expect that World War III will inevitably be traced back to something as stupid as "The War on Christmas".