The Main Stream Media consensus on the War on Christmas has long been a denial that there is such a thing—coupled with an insistence that, even if there might be, no one could possibly consider it an important issue. 2016 did not cooperate with this narrative, since the year saw discussion of the War on Christmas at the highest level in politics, from one end of Europe to another, and everywhere Donald Trump, who regularly promised to bring back “Merry Christmas” as the standard public holiday greeting, held one of his campaign rallies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the War on Christmas in a speech describing the assault on traditional forms of identity throughout the West:
We see that many Euro-Atlantic states have taken the way where they deny or reject their own roots, including their Christian roots which form the basis of Western civilization…. The people in many European states are actually ashamed of their religious affiliations and are indeed frightened to speak about them. Christian holidays and celebrations are abolished or “neutrally” renamed, as if one were ashamed of those Christian holidays. With this method one hides away the deeper moral value of those celebrations….
I am deeply convinced that this is a direct way to the degradation and primitivization of culture.….
Without the moral values that are rooted in Christianity and other world religions, without rules and moral values which have formed, and been developed, over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity and become brutes….
One has to respect the right of every minority to self-determination, but at the same time there cannot and must not be any doubt about the rights of the majority.
I am far from being an uncritical admirer of Putin. But these words echo what American conservatives have been saying for years.
At the other end of Europe, the Catholic bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies (right) described the same phenomenon in England, and cited similar warnings from the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May:
There has been a danger of a strange silence falling over our land which has recently led the Prime Minister to urge Christians never to be afraid of speaking freely in the public space. She insisted that our Christian heritage is something of which everyone can be proud, and Christians must “jealously guard” their right to speak publicly about their faith. The Prime Minister is doubtless conscious of the strange phenomenon of local authorities and public bodies who fear that even to mention the word ‘Christmas’ might be a cause of offence….
In a country founded on the Christian faith, it is a terrible perversion of political correctness that would so intimidate people from speaking of Christianity: the very faith and moral path which has shaped our way of life.[Homily of the Rt Rev. Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, at Midnight Mass in Shrewsbury Cathedral, Christmas 2016]
These foreign examples show that the much-mythologized “Separation of Church and State,” often cited as a reason for the War On Christmas by American Christophobes, is just a ruse. England has an Established Church, but the War On Christmas rages there too.
Those seeking to undermine the West in the name of “diversity,” “multiculturalism,” and “Political Correctness” certainly recognize this, which is why they are so quick to attack anyone decrying the assault on Christmas.
As Putin, May, and Davies all realize, the assault on Christianity, of which the War on Christmas is a part, is only partly the result of secularization. It also represents an assault on the traditions and heritage of the West. Anyone who values those traditions should therefore be concerned about the War on Christmas, whether he is a practicing Christian or not.
- When Slate’s Osita Nwanevu (left) set out to embarrass the estimable Stephen Miller, whom Trump has named to a key post in his White House, he began by citing columns Miller wrote on the War on Christmas while a student at Duke.
- The MSM started attacking Miller’s boss for his preference for “Merry Christmas” even before last Christmas, when The New Republic’s Elizabeth Bruenig [Email her] decried “the fixation of people like Trump, who prefer ‘Merry Christmas’ to ‘Happy Holiday.’” According to Bruenig, such people were defending Christmas not for “specifically religious reasons”—
but because ‘Merry Christmas’ informs people that they are on English-speaking, Christianist turf, where the people in charge all celebrate Christmas in a decidedly American way. People who aren’t celebrating Christmas or who do so in an unfamiliar way are supposed to feel unwelcome when they hear it. [Donald Trump’s “Merry Christmas” Has Nothing to Do With Christmas, September 25, 2015]
I am very skeptical of the claim that those who prefer “Merry Christmas” want to make other people “feel unwelcome.” Instead, they simply want to continue celebrating in public a holiday they (and the great majority of Americans) cherish. And no one has ever made me feel “unwelcome” because part of my own celebration of Christmas has always included some distinctly Polish elements.
But Bruenig’s disdain for Americans who prefer that things be done “in a decidedly American way” in their own country came through clearly, as did her dismay that anyone should worry about the War on Christmas.
Bruenig’s distaste for ordinary Americans, though, was subtle compared to what transpired between Christmas 2015 and Christmas 2016. The preferred presidential candidate of the readers of Slate and The New Republic declared that half of Trump’s supporters were “deplorables,” and her husband dismissed Trump’s supporters as “standard redneck[s]” before the election and “angry white men” after the election.
So little did the Clinton campaign think of ordinary Americans that it couldn’t be bothered to even ask for their votes. The New York Times reported after the election that Clinton had turned down an invitation to give a St. Patrick’s Day address at Notre Dame because her campaign did not feel the need to appeal to white Catholics.
(To be fair to the Clinton campaign, though, it wasn’t as far gone as the academic Left, one of whose members, a professor at Drexel, tweeted on Christmas Eve that “all I want for Christmas is white genocide” and who later sought to “clarify” by writing, “when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed”).
In large part because Trump embraced ordinary Americans while Clinton and her allies viewed them with ill-disguised contempt, he got to spend December traveling the county, thanking voters—and wishing them Merry Christmas.
For Trump realized that one of the ways in which he appealed to ordinary Americans was by championing Christmas. Trump called his post-election tour the “Merry Christmas USA Thank You Tour,” and, according to Liam Stack of the New York Times, to ld Wisconsinites at one of his post-election rallies, “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.”
Stack, though, went on to baldly declare that “There is no evidence of an organized attack on Christmas in the United States,” and he attributed any concern over this supposedly non-existent attack entirely to FOX News.[How the ‘War on Christmas’ Controversy Was Created, By Liam Stack, December 19, 2016]]
Not to be outdone, the Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak [Tweet her] reacted to Trump’s post-election comments on Christmas by asserting that “There isn’t and never was a war on this thing we think is Christmas. You can’t swing a cat anywhere in America today and not hit a piece of tinsel” and explicitly arguing that people should say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” because
there are a few other holidays this time of year, and the folks who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Saturnalia, Festivus and Ramadan — which does fall in December occasionally — are also citizens of America. [T rump vs. Obama in the alleged war on Christmas: Ugliness in a season of joy, By Petula Dvorak, December 19, 2016]
Yes, Dvorak really does think that Americans shouldn’t mention the holiday celebrated by the vast majority of us because the writers of a television comedy made up another winter holiday as a joke in the ‘90s!
I hate to break it to Stack, but VDARE.com began its War on Christmas Competition long before anyone on FOX took up the topic, and I wrote my first essay documenting what Stack and Dvorak deny exists 15 years ago.
And despite the political success of Donald Trump, the sad truth is that the War on Christmas continues, albeit with more conscious resistance than was the case at the beginning of this century—what VDARE.com has called a “trench warfare” phase. Hence two contrasting concerts I wrote about in December for the website of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.
On December 4, I got to hear a wonderful Christmas concert by the Cleveland Orchestra. Particular highlights included the three carol medleys performed by the Orchestra: Robert Wendel’s “Christmas a la Valse,” Malcolm Arnold’s “Fantasy on Christmas Carols,” and Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival.”
There was nothing incongruous about one of the world’s premier orchestras playing Christmas carols. As Paula Simons observed in 2003:
Traditional Christmas carols are beautiful songs. They combine rich, lyric poetry with melodies of timeless power. A child who grows up hearing and singing the likes of God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen or Silent Night . . . or the other great world classics gets a profound musical education. The intricate harmonies and modalities of real carols don’t just move our hearts. They train our ears to appreciate more sophisticated musical forms and our voices to sing in concert with others. [Cultural Censorship is Ruining Christmas Carols, by Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal, 12/17/2003]
The following Monday, I got to hear my sister describe a fifth-grade concert she just endured. Not one song mentioned Christmas, or even alluded to Christmas. All the songs were recent concoctions, devoid of cultural significance or artistic merit. Rather than sing “Silent Night” or even “Jingle Bells,” the children sang “Bop,” “Ringing Ringing” and “The Wacky Winter Song,” the latter a tuneless lament for how cold winter is.
And this is not in New York, but in the Heartland! Quite a contrast from my own experience in public elementary school in Cleveland, where we sang Christmas carols and learned about this great festival.
If the War on Christmas were as non-existent as the New York Times’ Stack and the Washington Post’s Dvorak insist, schoolchildren would still be singing Christmas carols at school concerts in December. Instead, what my sister experienced was a deliberately-engineered cultural desert.
As she described the concert she attended, I kept thinking about the one I had just attended, with the beautiful sound of the Cleveland Orchestra’s violins and violas playing the exquisite “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” still fresh in my mind.
And I thought back to what the conductor told us before inviting the audience to sing along with five of the Christmas songs contained in Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival” that the lyrics were in our programs, but he didn’t believe anyone would need them.
And few seemed to. But a few short years from now, after millions of children have learned to sing “Bop Bop” rather than “Joy to the World,” that will no longer be the case.
Christmas leads to the heart of our culture; the War on Christmas leads nowhere.
But maybe, just maybe, the events of 2016 mean that our arrival at that grim destination will be delayed, perhaps even indefinitely delayed.