Henry Rollins: War on Christmas? How About a War on Everything?

Tread carefully, citizen. The war will be starting soon if it hasn’t already. The Atheists are coming with their oppressive, joy-killing, contrarian points of view, which they seek to cram down the throats of the Christian-consumerist majority.

The audacity of these drips! To think they could in any way neutralize a wave of love and acceptance worth billions of dollars. It’s time for millions of Americans to get rolled like drunken sailors as they fill their carts with products made in other parts of the world.

Yesterday, as I walked the streets of Fargo, North Dakota, looking at the Christmas decorations that adorned the light poles, it occurred to me that our traditions are often far more powerful than we are as high-functioning creatures. While many traditions find their origins in religion, they have been worn by so many for so long, they are different from how they started.

As a nation, we are wild and barely controllable, drifting in and out of reality and myth, self-christened in the blood and glory of quenchless ambition, greed, innovation and war. These rituals are verses in our collective song, monetized and sung raggedly. But they’re ours, and speak to the country’s totality as much as anything else.

So there might be a “War on Christmas,” but at all times, there is a war on everything in America. These conflicts are profit-motivated, often dressed in the camo gear of “hearts and minds” or “enduring freedom,” and only end momentarily. As soon as the money catches its breath, it takes off again and another mutant strain of the American dream is chased to its end.

It is our 24/7 bellicosity, inside and outside our borders, that puts us in a perpetual “my brother, my enemy” posture. As we must, as we are unable to do otherwise, we keep pushing limits in search of a more powerful high. We are incapable of backing down or letting go.

One of the greatest examples of American exceptionalism is the ramming of the square peg into the round hole. Instead of admitting that it simply doesn’t fit, we keep at it, in order to form a more perfect union.

If you want complete bedlam, just tell hundreds of millions of people that they live in the freest, most amazing country in the world, then add more rules, laws and regulations than you could ever remember. Remind them that the state they live in enjoys the freedoms and sovereignty of the Ninth Amendment but must also adhere to the strictures of a federal force that almost taunts and belittles as it hangs like the sword of Damocles over the heads of all.

To think that even a few people can go along with that for more than an hour is crazy, but that’s America — a landmass slashed by borders that are, miraculously, not constantly challenged. What ultimately makes America great is the fact that there are any of us left.

It is our almost completely unrestrained sense of freedom that makes an election like the one that just gave the country Donald Trump simultaneously possible and completely insane. The endless lines, the broken voting machines, the dirty tricks and pathetic oppression of the electorate’s ability to engage in a free and open election are just a few examples of the square peg’s inability to fit.

American democracy, in its most assiduously followed and most fully realized application, is easily the highest bar ever assigned to any country’s population. It is, in fact, impossible to achieve. What we live in is the amazing aspiration. This attempt is no different from anything else you have tried to do consistently well. There are good days and bad days. Thinking about it this way, the last election was simultaneously like any other and also completely unique. For many it still evades believability.

I don’t know of any country that self-mythologizes to the point where there is an almost factory-installed contempt for reality or order; where the facts are just not exciting enough, and so their bones are ground to dust under our wheels. We are the whale that swallowed itself. We bought in and disappeared.

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The rest of the world trips on us hard. We are their epic blockbuster and they’re all watching now. We are also our own reality show. We have no need to go anywhere or ever look beyond our borders, as we generate enough content to keep ourselves hypnotized.

Many of us will tell anyone who will listen that America is the greatest country, but rarely can we actually provide facts to back this assertion up. We don’t need to. The aforementioned greatness is beyond knowledge, beyond reality. It is a thing that we have told ourselves so many times, for so many years, that its origins are untraceable and therefore sacrosanct, never to be questioned.

While some people are having a hard time stomaching the idea of Donald Trump sharing the same job description as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, it is perhaps the best example of the incredible mechanism that is our democracy.

As this year will soon conclude and I spend each night with thousands of fellow Americans, I am impressed and grateful for the level of civility that meets me in each venue. It is almost unbelievable that a nation of people who are approximately 50-50 in great disagreement can get through the day with such a low body count.

The last thing you want to do is bet on what an American in America will do next. But that being said, it’s incredible that we all get along as well as we do.

Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.


More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
White America Couldn't Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day
Bowie's Blackstar Is on the Level of Low and Heroes
No Matter Who Wins, America Is Only Going to Get Angrier


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