Outrage over Starbucks shows the danger of reactionary movements

This year's holiday season red cups at Starbucks have stirred up critics who accuse the company of waging a war on Christmas.

We have a new PC police in town and they’re not your parents’ PC police. The old PC police were predictable—they were the social justice warriors who wanted to give power to mostly innocuous words. They wanted you to be very careful about what you said because you just might offend someone with your words.

Pretty soon it felt like you couldn’t say anything without getting one of these people offended.

It was ridiculous, so people started to push back. A reactionary movement was born against them; they called out their ridiculousness and refused to be bullied into word choice submission. When “Christmas” became such a bad word that some felt it necessary to start referring to a Christmas tree as a “holiday tree,” you knew exactly which of your family and friends would be the ones making sure to say “Merry Christmas” and support the businesses that displayed openly Christmas themes.

But then it started to get to be a little bit too much. Any time anyone or any business would choose “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas,” you could expect a response of “Why are you trying to take Christ out of Christmas?!” And now it’s all culminated with Joshua Feuerstein and his rage over the new Starbucks coffee cup.

It’s red. According to Feuerstein, that’s anti-Christmas. Now an obviously minimalistic design meant to convey a sense of the season is considered offensive. In the name of not being politically correct, Starbucks is being scolded for not being politically correct.

Hindsight is 20/20; so looking back, the whole “Keep Christ in Christmas” thing was doomed to this sort of demise. I don’t think that most people who greeted you with “Happy Holidays” were trying to make you forget about the religious aspect of Christmas. Sure, there might have been a few crazies who wanted that, but you can always find a few crazies who think anything. On the flip side, I would imagine that there only a few people who are genuinely offended by the Starbucks cup or anything else like it. Why waste the energy?

But for some reason, those few crazies always tend to get on the news. They’re the ones we always talk about. And while most people are in the camp of “I don’t really care about this,” all it takes is someone to slander one of these crazies with a shot at the more general, acceptable belief system for everyone to dichotomize and pick sides.

That’s like the moment when Thanksgiving dinner becomes awkward.

This is how all reactionary movements tend to go. They start out by making good points to guard against a cultural shift pushed by a few very loud and easily offended people. As the reactionary movement grow larger, it spreads its wings and attacks anything that it might find disagreeable. It happened with the anti-affirmative action crowd. It started out well, but then it turned into people complaining that the hardest race to be is white and also blaming minorities themselves for the problems caused by politicians. More recently, Men’s Rights Advocates fought against radical third wave feminism. It turned into male keyboard warriors complaining about how oppressed they were.

I don’t know what the solution is. I do, however, think that you can greatly help yourself out to not get caught up in a reactionary frenzy by having a firm grasp of what you believe in. You will be better equipped to avoid jumping to one end of the spectrum just because someone says something ridiculous on the opposing end.