A Curious Christmas 'Carroll': Holiday Rebukes America and Capitalism, God On Other Side

I considered making Paul Krugman's column, "Helping the Poor, the British Way", my subject of this Christmas Day. I even had a snappy headline sussed out: "Let It Snow Socialism". But when it comes to using the message of the day to berate the United States, Krugman can't hold a Christmas candle to James Carroll of the Boston Globe.

Krugman took a glancing shot: "It’s the season for charitable giving. And far too many Americans, particularly children, need that charity."

Penny-ante pessimism, Paul in contrast with James Carroll's jeremiad. In his column, Carroll - a former Roman Catholic priest who has written about his bitter conflict with his military-officer father - condemns the United States in explicitly religious terms:

  • "The birth of Jesus is the reversal of the imperial order. . . Empire lives in the United States of America, and, despite assumptions of many Christian Americans, Christmas still rebukes the empire."
  • "The implications of Mary's statement for contemporary politics are obvious. Violence marks power as much as ever. Hunger and poverty among masses of people are inevitable byproducts of a market system that rewards the few."
  • "When economic inequity becomes so extreme as to turn the global social order into an effective state of permanent war, which side is God on? The shepherds tell us, and so do the kneeling kings. Above all, Mary tells us."

That's right, folks. America is the Evil Empire. Free markets inevitably create hunger and poverty. And God is on the other side. How's that for a "Christmas Carroll"?

I wish a Merry Christmas to all NB readers.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

Economy Religion Culture/Society Boston Globe