It seems like the Christmas season starts a little earlier each year. A couple years back I was shocked when Costco put out Christmas items the week after Halloween; now the Christmas decorations are on sale weeks before trick-or-treating. And this year, even the War on Christmas has come early.
Over the weekend, people started flipping out over the 2015 version of the Starbucks red cups. The gist of the story is that one of America’s great holiday traditions is the heralding of winter marked by Starbucks switching their paper cups from white to red. The red cups have little designs and/or greetings on them wishing people happy holidays, or merry Kwanza, or blessed be, or what have you. And Americans treasure these icons of salvation. But this year the commies who decided that Starbucks was both capable of repairing race relations and too good for the second amendment are trying to airbrush Jesus out of American culture by rendering the Christmas red cups devoid of any Christmas symbols whatsoever. The cups are just plain red, with a green Starbucks logo. And boy, are Christians pissed.
Like I said, that’s the story. Or at least that’s the story that you’ll get if you do a quick news search for “Starbucks red cups” today, and included will be network news segments and headlines such as “Red Cups Create Uproar” and “Starbucks Cups Have Some Evangelical Christians Seeing Red.”
Now, in general, I’m an aggressive, neocon interventionist when it comes to the War on Christmas. I’ve even edited a book about Christmas—it’s called The Christmas Virtues and you can pre-order it today!—in which the great Jonah Goldberg has a blockbuster chapter on this long, twilight struggle. But this “story” is ridiculous. What happened, so far as I can tell, is that a fellow named Josh Feuerstein (who may or may not be comedian Kevin James’ twin) posted a video on Facebook claiming to be outraged and that video was shared a bunch of times over the weekend which caused a bunch of reporters and producers who should know better to decide that this was a Real Story with Real Outrage.
First things first: Despite the company’s no-goodnik history, it seems unlikely that the design nerds at Starbucks thought they were striking a blow for pantheism by making this year’s red cups plain red. Read this long story on the red-cup design process from a couple years back and it seems much more likely that they came up with some elaborate conceit that goes something like this: The centrality of coffee to our world obviated the need for symbols. At the same time, the warmth of a matte red expresses the oneness with which we embrace coffee as the center of our day, our community, and our lives.