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Attacked in 'War on Christmas', Gap Wins

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It's not even Thanksgiving, but the empty threats have already begun.

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Ah, the Christmas season. The hustle, the bustle, the inevitable familial strife over whether everyone can afford exchanging gifts this year.

While most folks are preparing for the holidays by weighing inexpensive presents against a three-year grudge courtesy of a brother-in-law with brand new earmuffs, others are embroiled in a full-on war.

I'm not speaking of the handful of conflicts that brave men and women are fighting overseas. This one takes place domestically each year and entails the petty, family-oriented fanatics who treat their respective religions like scrappy but unlucky sports teams.

Rejoice! "The War on Christmas" has returned and the first strike has been declared a misfire.

On November 11, the American Family Association in Mississippi declared sanctions -- er, a boycott, rather -- against Gap (GPS) and its factions for their gross refusal to "use the word 'Christmas' in their advertising to Christmas shoppers."

The group urges shoppers to avoid partaking in the holiday sales from November 1 until the New Year within a Gap, Old Navy, or Banana Republic store -- no matter how low their prices for performance fleece go.

But prior to the group's maneuver, Gap had premiered a nationwide television ad featuring another band of fresh-faced youths frolicking in holiday celebration. And although it might not feature a khaki-clad swing dancer frozen mid-air and spread-eagle as a "Bullet Time" dolly arcs around him, it does in fact mention Christmas -- within the first six seconds.

As understandably distracting as the brightly colored gyrations are, there's no mistaking "Go Christmas!" for an unforgivably secular "Happy Holidays."

Despite the clear mention of Christmas -- not to mention the variety of Christmas-themed items available at Gap stores -- the AFA has yet to call off its dogs and rescind the boycott. In fact, the organization has stepped up its game and compared those in the "Happy Holidays" camp to Nazis.

Yes, Nazis.

But really, is it that far removed -- or unexpected -- from the Christmas zealots who have frothed at the mouths and staged protests over Costco (COST), Home Depot (HD), PetSmart (PETM), Best Buy (BBY), Target (TGT), Sears (SHLD), and Walmart's (WMT) use of a pithier and more inclusive year-end phrase like Happy Holidays?

Dan Neil at The Los Angeles Times notes that these boycotts might actually be beneficial to the businesses. By the end of the AFA's decade-long boycott against Disney (DIS), revenue almost doubled to $34 billion. Same goes for Ford (F), which took the brunt of an AFA boycott and still was able to post a billion-dollar profit in 2009's third quarter.

Leave it to the American Family Association to spread hatred and animosity during a time when the faith it champions normally promotes compassion and acceptance. But what good is that for business, right?

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