Starbucks perpetuating its war on jazz this Christmas


You’ve probably heard about the “controversy” surrounding Starbucks’ choice of red coffee cups for its holiday season. No mention of Christmas, or Jesus, or whatever else has never been on a Starbucks paper cup at Christmas. Ever.

It’s the kind of controversy that plays right into the hands of what fuels the Internet: outrage.

And nothing can make the needle bounce on a slow Monday than the war on Christmas, which, like everything else Christmas, is supposedly starting early this year.

Starbucks started the holiday-themed design in 1997. There was no religion on that cup, either. It had a jazz theme. That’s gone now and nobody is getting any attention for the obvious war on jazz.

The company started its line of CDs with its periodic Blue Note Blend, supporting its “Hot Java, Cool Jazz” slogan of the day. It stopped selling the CDs last February and the fans of Miles Davis, Art Blakey and Johnny Griffin took it lying down.

Not cool, coffee people. Not cool. Where’s the outrage?

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” Starbucks said in an online statement meant to respond to the online outrage. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

In other words, if you want Jesus on your Starbucks holiday coffee cup, here’s a Sharpie. Write it yourself. Alternatively, penning a little sketch of Norah Jones wouldn’t kill you either.

Ed Stetzer, a contributing editor for Christianity Today, has a good piece of advice: have some coffee and calm down.

As much as some might wish that faith were dying away, it’s not. It will continue to be the primary influence in many Americans’ lives and one of the guiding influences for our society. The growth of secularism in this country should not include forcing religious individuals to exercise their faith exclusively in places of worship.

The real and obvious solution would be to rediscover true tolerance, where ideas — religious and secular — are welcomed for debate and discussion in the public square. With this in mind, we can learn to respect those who differ from us while affirming a free society for the religious and the non-religious.

Tolerance won’t stop the coming polarization, but it might help us to live in the same nation.

“If Christmas is about honoring the birth of an impoverished child to a homeless couple who must eventually flee a tyrant to keep their baby safe, then, yes, there is a war on Christmas,” Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak writes this afternoon. “If Christmas is about peace, joy, generosity, thankfulness and goodwill among people, then yes, there is a war on Christmas.”

But this Starbucks frenzy is a faux war on a faux Christmas.

In a country where 15 million children sometimes don’t have enough to eat, how could any real Christian conclude that the color of coffee cups deserves their outrage? Only in honor of the faux Christmas.

In a nation where 22 percent of our children live in poverty, why would any churchgoer care about a local shopping mall’s decision to go with “glacier” themed decorations this winter instead of red/green/Santa/trees? Only in honor of the faux Christmas.

Across the globe, children are walking hundreds of miles to escape unspeakable violence, and red cups are supposed to command our attention and advocacy? Only in honor of the faux Christmas.

The trappings of this country’s corporate Christmas are being shoved down our throats earlier every year. Faux Christmas creep is real. How about if we declare a war on that Christmas?