BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Now that the Fox News Channel has dumped the sex-harassment-plagued Commander Bill O'Reilly, what will happen to the "War on Christmas?" Will President Donald Trump exercise his commander-in-chiefness, and take control of the troops?
In a December 2016 speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Trump told the audience: "You go into a department store," he said. "When was the last time you saw 'Merry Christmas'? You don't see it anymore. They want to be politically correct. If I'm president, you will see 'Merry Christmas' in department stores, believe me, believe me. "
Shortly after winning the presidency, Trump told a Wisconsin crowd "When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say 'Merry Christmas' again. Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas."
Last year, a Public Policy Polling survey found that "60 percent of Trump voters" were certain that there is a "War on Christmas."
Now that the Trumps are celebrating their first Christmas in the White House, the family's official Christmas card reads: "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." According to The Washington Post, "The dominant color scheme is an old-school red, green and gold. And the official hashtag? #WHChristmas."
"In the White House's official illustrated Christmas 2017 tour book, 'Time Honored Traditions,' 11-year-old Barron Trump wanders through the decked-out public rooms in a blue blazer and red scarf," the Post's Krissah Thompson and Jura Koncius reported. "But there seem to be no other personal touches or clues as to what a Trump family Christmas is all about."
The Trump Make America Great Again Committee is making a Christmasy red MAGA ball caps available. For $45 you get a MAGA ball cap, embroidered with Christmas lights and with "Merry Christmas" stitched on the back; tax and shipping are not included. Last year, President Barack Obama's card wished Americans a "joyous holiday season"
After Trump's victory last year, Bill O'Reilly declared the "War on Christmas" to be over.
A Brief History of the War on Christmas:
- The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony bans Christmas celebrations before unbanning them
- Henry Ford blames the Jews
- The John Birch Society blames the Communists
- Anti-immigrant polemicist, Peter Brimelow, blames almost everyone, especially immigrants
- Fox News' John Gibson writes a book about it
- The American Family Association monetizes it
- Fox News' Bill O'Reilly makes it one of his signature campaigns
- President Trump picks up the battle flag
The "War on Christmas" has a complicated history that, believe it or not, did not start with the blubbering O'Reilly, although O'Reilly kept at it year after year. In 2005, John Gibson, a thoroughly conservative and charged-up Fox News anchor, published a book titled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought, a title that pretty much needs no amplification.
Dan Cassino, associate professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University, wrote a Harvard Business Review piece titled "How Fox News Created the War on Christmas": "From 2005 on, Fox News has returned to the topic every year, while noncable television networks and major newspapers have given it little to no coverage, mentioning it only a handful of times, and never seriously. Most of the discussion about it outside of Fox has been on MSNBC and The Daily Show, both of which have used it to mock Fox's coverage."
These days, the Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization that spends much of its time battling the "homosexual agenda," continues banging the "War on Christmas" drum. In addition to offering its own "Keep Christ in Christmas," the AFA prepares an annual "Naughty and Nice" list, which lets shoppers will "know which companies embrace Christmas and which water it down into a generic holiday."
This year's stores featured on the "Naughty" list include: Best Buy, Gap, Inc., Nordstrom and Victoria's Secret. The "Nice" list includes Menard's, Michael's, Walmart and Toys R Us.
Ultimately, naughty or nice may be in the eyes of its beholder. People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch recently reported that "the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel can't seem to agree on which retailers are sufficiently pro-Christmas, with AFA labeling Dick's Sporting Good and Rite-Aid as "nice" while LC labels them "naughty," and LC designating Staples as "nice" while AFA says they are "naughty."
Ford Blames Jews, Birchers Blame Communists
As Politico's Daniel Denvir pointed out in a December 2013 article titled "A Short History of the War on Christmas": "Henry Ford was an avid proponent of the idea that someone -- or more precisely, some group -- was waging a war on Christmas." In Ford's infamous and widely distributed set of anti-Semitic articles titled The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, Ford maintained Christmas was being messed with by … wait for it … the Jews.
"People sometimes ask why 3,000,000 Jews can control the affairs of 100,000,000 Americans," Ford wrote. "In the same way that ten Jewish students can abolish the mention of Christmas and Easter out of schools containing 3,000 Christian pupils."
In 1959, the John Birch Society issued a pamphlet titled "There Goes Christmas." The pamphlet detailed the nefarious ways in which communists were stripping "Christ out of Christmas." Communists, being the savvy plotters that they were, were using Christmas as a vehicle for stamping out religion altogether, and giving up US sovereignty to the United Nations. The Birchers urged their followers to boycott any stores that had "inappropriate decorations." The pamphlet's writer, Hubert Kregeloh warned that, "One of the techniques now being applied by the Reds to weaken the pillar of religion in our country is the drive to take Christ out of Christmas -- to denude the event of its religious meaning."
Cassino, concluded his Harvard Business Review article by writing: "What's amazing about this is that coverage on one cable channel has led to a large section of the American public changing their everyday behavior and the way they view the behavior of others. It means that business owners' decisions about something as innocuous as a holiday greeting have become viewed through a political lens that owners and managers wouldn't have considered before. It's easy to imagine that we live in a post-mass media world, one in which no single news source can have a real impact on our society. In this case, one news outlet still retains the ability to move the opinions and behaviors of the American public."
And now, it's Trump's turn to keep those "War on Christmas" memes alive. So far, he appears to be up to the task.