Starbucks invited controversy this week with new cups that are solid red with the green Starbucks logo in the middle. While the cups’ design may not seem objectionable on its face, the absence of snowmen, reindeer, candy canes and other iconography has prompted some to accuse the coffee company of waging a ‘War On Christmas’.
Breitbart London reports that MP David Burrowes, a conservative Christian of the British Parliament, has criticized Starbucks, saying “The Starbucks coffee cup change smells more of political correctness than a consumer-led change.” Burrowes added, “The public has a common sense grasp on the reality that at Christmas time, whether you have a Christian faith or not, Britain celebrates Christmas.”
Since 1997 Starbucks has served its holiday beverages in a unique cup, starting with a jazz-themed design in jewel tones of deeper reds, greens and blues. Every year since, the cup has told a story of the holidays by featuring symbols of the season from vintage ornaments and hand-drawn reindeer to modern vector-illustrated characters. “In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said [Starbucks vice president Jeffrey] Fields. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.” In the nearly two decades since the first red Starbucks cup, the company has grown from 1,400 stores in a handful of countries to more than 22,000 stores in 68 markets around the world. “Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays,” he said. “We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s more open way to usher in the holiday.”
The fact is: If they’re waging a war, they’re not very good at it. At Starbucks, Christmas is all over the place. A quick glance at the company’s home page carriesthe headline: “An Early Taste of Christmas.” The store is also selling an Advent calendar, ornaments for hanging on a Christmas tree, the annual special Christmas Blend coffee, and gift cards with Christmas themes.
The good people at Snopes also point out:
It should also be noted that Starbucks could not have removed any overtly Christian symbols from their cups, because they never used them to begin with. Starbucks’ holiday cups typically feature general winter holiday symbols such as snowmen, carolers, and ornaments, which (although they may be associated with Christmas) are either secular in origin or not exclusively Christian.
In short, this is all a tempest in a Venti cup.
People can have reasons to boycottStarbucks. But it seems to me that the company’s treatment of Christmas on a colored piece of cardboard really isn’t one of them.
UPDATE: Mollie Hemingway nails it. She notes how all this began with a tongue-in-cheek Breitbart piece on November 5. And then people went nuts. Read on:
Some Christian shock jock type ran with it and made a video, and a set of hashtags, and Facebook links to his ad-supported web page. This, I think, is what produced not just the Christian response of “No, really, we don’t care” but the many articles claiming that Christians were freaked out by Starbucks cups. Not sure which response was first, to be honest, or if they all occurred at the same time.New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik joked, in response to the tweet above, that we need “a snopes.com, but for whether any actual human is outraged over a reported ‘outrage.’”
This is where the story gets particularly sad, because
Snopes.com is in part responsible for the faux-rage over the Starbucks claim. The site declared “false” the claim that “The coffee chain Starbucks removed all mentions of Christmas from their red holiday cups because ‘they hate Jesus.’” It cited this shock-jock video and the Breitbart London story.
I’m unable to transcribe the cry of anguish my heart is uttering over the stupidity of all this. I get that it’s fun to feel outraged, at times, but maybe all day, every day is a bit much, you know? When you have to invent some public outcry to be outraged over, you’re probably taking things too far.
If you want to have an actual discussion about the War on Christmas, a battle that has actually been raging for thousands of years and was not invented, as “The Daily Show” probably told you, by Fox News, let’s do it. But let’s not be complete idiots about it.
You gotta read the rest.