Saying Merry Christmas Is Not the Real Dog Whistle at Christmastime

Just when you think you’ve read the stupidest thing leftwing academics can come up with, another platoon of them screams “hold my beer” and does something even more ridiculous. And nothing seems to bring these nutbars out like religious holidays, particularly Christmas.

“Merry Christmas” has become an annual flashpoint in our nation’s ongoing culture war. And though Trump is a very imperfect messenger for this and for most messages, I’m generally supportive of what he’s done.

This brings me to the topic of the post. Via Newsweak (that’s not a typo) HOW TRUMP AND THE NAZIS STOLE CHRISTMAS TO PROMOTE WHITE NATIONALISM.

But critics counter that Trump is promoting a version of the holidays that excludes members of other religions, and that his crusade to bring back Christmas is part of a larger attempt by the president to define America as a country for white Christians alone.

Wishing people “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays,” is thus in line with Trump’s decision to ban citizens of Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, critics say. It fits neatly with his refusal to condemn white supremacists when they march against diversity, and with his condemnation of athletes who protest police brutality against black men.

With this in mind, the fight to end the war on Christmas is exclusionary politics at its most flagrant.

“I see such invocations of Christmas as a kind of cypher, what some would call a dog whistle. It does not appear to be intolerant or extreme, but to attentive audiences it speaks volumes about identity and belonging—who and what are fully American,” Richard King, a professor at Washington State University who studies how white supremacists exploit culture, told Newsweek.

“Much like ‘Make America Great Again,’ panics over the protests by NFL players, and the defense of Confederate memory, Christmas is a way to talk about peril, to assert a soft or hard version of white nationalism.”

Yes, Christmas is exclusionary and, in our society, voluntarily so. The words mean the Mass of Christ. If you aren’t Christian, then the holiday, per se, is just another day off.

No one is stopping you from becoming Christian. Neither is anyone making you become one in order to have a day off. Hannukah is also an exclusive holiday just like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and, rightfully, there is no clamor that these religious celebrations be bowdlerized and otherwise degraded. If you want to celebrate Festivus or do a purely secular gift-giving, that’s fine. Just don’t expect those of us who are celebrating a Christian feast day to pretend we’re doing what you’re doing. We’re not. This is not a hard concept to grasp.

It will obviously come as a surprise to this Richard King character, but most Christians are not white and trying to link Christianity to white nationalism via Merry Christmas makes you look like a moron.

Trump isn’t the first political figure in history to co-opt Christmas. In fact, some see parallels between Trump’s speeches in front of Christmas trees and attempts by authoritarian regimes like the Nazis to manipulate popular celebrations to promote a political ideology. But by weaponizing Christmas in this way, Trump is bringing a dangerous tradition of politicizing religious holidays into the United States, experts say.

“Because Americans have enjoyed a relatively stable political system, Christmas in the U.S. has been relatively immune to the overt politicization of the holiday,” Joe Perry, author of the book Christmas in Germany: A Cultural History, which examines the way Nazis used Christmas to spread fascism, told Newsweek.

Got it. Trump is Hitler. But while we are on the subject, let’s take a look at what the Nazis did:

Nazi ideologists claimed that the Christian elements of the holiday had been superimposed upon ancient Germanic traditions.[7] They argued that Christmas Eve originally had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, but instead celebrated the winter solstice and the ‘rebirth of the sun’,[7] that the swastika was an ancient symbol of the sun, and that Santa Claus was a Christian reinvention of the Germanic god Odin. Accordingly, holiday posters were made to depict Odin as the “Christmas or Solstice man”, riding a white charger, sporting a thick grey beard and wearing a slouch hat, carrying a sack full of gifts. Other changes were made to the manger, which was replaced by a Christmas garden containing wooden toy deer and rabbits; Mary and Jesus were also depicted as a blonde mother and child.[7]

The Christmas tree was also changed. The traditional names of the tree, Christbaum or Weihnachtsbaum, was renamed in the press as fir tree, light tree or Jul tree. The star on the top of the tree was sometimes replaced with a swastika, a Germanic “sun wheel” or a Sig rune, and swastika-shaped tree lights.[7][8][9] During the height of the movement, an attempt was made to remove the association of the coming of Jesus and replace it with the coming of Hitler, referred to as the “Saviour Führer“.[7]

Reading this, it occurred to me that what Trump is doing with his cheerleading for “Merry Christmas” is nothing at all like what the Nazis did. Trump, in his own way, is encouraging people who observe the religious holiday to have the courage to witness to what they are doing. If you want to see how a holiday is appropriated or “manipulated to promote a political ideology,”  then Happy Holidays is an exact parallel what the Nazis did to Christmas. They took a religious holiday, stripped out the religious symbolism and replaced it with an alternative theology and its symbols. In Hitler’s case, it was the symbolism of National Socialism. In the case of modern socialists, they are replacing it secular humanism and consumerism.

I don’t use “Happy Holidays” for the same reason I never say “have a nice day,”  except ironically, and I never allowed a “Baby on Board” sign on my car. These things are saccharine, trite, banal, and any number of other adjectives that mean the opposite of “meaningful.” Happy Holidays, in particular, is an atrocity. There are lots of holidays. There is one Christmas. If you are a Christian and can’t bring yourself to say it, the problem is not the culture. If you say it and the listener can’t handle it, as my teenage daughter says, “they should cry themselves a river, build a bridge and get over it.”