Earlier: Yes, Virginia (Dare), There Is A War On Christmas—Here’s Twenty Years Of Proof!
The first War On Christmas item that caught my eye this year and the most notorious each had this in common: they explicitly declared that public celebrations of Christmas were “fascist.” In mid-December, I read that a living Nativity Scene featuring children in Toulouse, France needed to be shut down when the event was disrupted by protestors shouting “Stop the Fascists!” [Nativity scene triggers activists; Dozens scream 'stop the fascists!' at children, by Douglas Ernst, Washington Times, December 19, 2019] In the U.S., Salon ran a piece—on Christmas Day!—charging that Hallmark Christmas movies, beloved by millions, “constitute the platonic ideal of fascist propaganda” [Hallmark movies are fascist propaganda, by Amanda Marcotte, December 25, 2019]. Does the Main Stream Media criticize the way the public chooses to celebrate any holiday other than Christmas, much less condemn an aspect of any other holiday, as “fascist?” The link between thugs in France and Leftists at Salon is this: We Deplorables must not be left alone to have our own holiday, or to celebrate it as we see fit.
Of course, the charge of “fascism” was risible. Even Pope Francis, no one’s idea of a conservative, much less a fascist, issued an apostolic letter, Admirabile Signum, warmly encouraging Christians to set up Nativity scenes, not just in their homes, but also “in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and public squares.”
Salon’s Marcotte argues that the Hallmark Christmas movies are “fascist” in part because the movies take viewers into “an uncanny valley of shiny-teethed, blow-dried, heteronormative whiteness, with only a few token movies with characters of color.” Of course, the same could be said for Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife, The Bells of St. Mary’s, 3 Godfathers, and It’s a Wonderful Life, and even A Charlie Brown Christmas. Are all these classics “fascist,” too?
That would certainly have come as news to Jimmy Stewart, who starred in It’s a Wonderful Life and regarded as his favorite movie and who also won the Distinguished Flying Cross piloting B-24s in combat over Germany in World War II.
These Christmas classics may have greater artistic merit than Hallmark’s Christmas movies, but they are every bit as white and “heteronormative”—which seems to be Marcotte’s principal objection to the Hallmark films, since she later blasts the movies for embodying “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” working to “enforce very narrow, white, heteronormative sexist, provincial ideas of what constitutes ‘normal,’” and excluding “most of an increasingly urban, racially diverse, cosmopolitan nation.” (Apparently the possibility of an immigration moratorium has never occurred to her.)
Before throwing more stones at Hallmark for idealizing small town America, Ms. Marcotte may want to take another look at the faces in the Bailey house at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, and reflect on the fact that George Bailey finds out he was right to have stayed in Bedford Falls after all. Violet, to George’s relief, decides she should stay there, too.
More prestigious outlets than Salon also took up the attack on Hallmark’s Christmas movies, with the Washington Post running at least three articles blasting the movies, by Jeb Lund, Maura Judkis, and Britni de la Cretaz. Jeb Lund’s December 23 piece, “Hallmark’s Christmas movies are part of a culture war their viewers are losing,” notes that the movies evoke “the visual language of Norman Rockwell’s Christmas paintings, a postwar consensus of peak fictional Americana that purportedly exists beyond the political.”
Such nostalgia is undoubtedly part of the films’ appeal, as is the fact that they eschew profanity, violence, and sex and offer viewers a world, in Lund’s words, “where nobody gets hurt” and “[t]here are never bad guys, only the wrong ones.”
There is nothing sinister, much less “fascist,” about people liking pleasant movies. Significantly, the Hallmark formula is stunningly successful, with one study mentioned by Lund finding that “the top three scripted shows among white cable viewers were Hallmark series” and another finding that the “Hallmark channel was one of the most popular networks with ‘red’ voters.”
But such Deplorable folks can’t be allowed to watch movies that resemble their demographic profile or reflect their values. “Tolerance” doesn’t mean letting people who want movies resembling “Norman Rockwell’s Christmas paintings” have such movies—any more than it meant letting majorities who wanted them to have stores wishing customers “Merry Christmas,” schools having Christmas concerts featuring Christmas carols, or town squares hosting Nativity scenes.
So, despite the movies’ great popularity, Lund [Tweet him] says “it’s time to tell different stories.” Including stories featuring homosexuality—an aspect of the attack on Hallmark Christmas movies handled masterfully by Lutheran pastor Hans Feine, writing at The Federalist [Lesbian Ads On The Hallmark Channel Are Just The Beginning, December 19, 2019]—and movies about “winter holidays” other than Christmas.
WaPo also published articles objecting to the way Hallmark mentioned Hanukkah in two movies this year, with Maura Judkis [Email her] criticizing the movies (and one on the Lifetime channel) for not being
…Hanukkah movies. They are Christmas movies with Hanukkah as a plot device. Troublingly, the Jewish holiday is often an obstacle preventing the characters from celebrating Christmas to the fullest. [Hallmark’s Hanukkah movies are really Christmas movies about how Hanukkah is weird, December 25, 2019]
Britni de la Cretaz, a Jewish lesbian, was even harsher. She charged that the “movies rely on some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book,” including “[t]he trope of the sneaky, untrustworthy Jew, who is a perpetual outsider.” [Hallmark’s making some Hanukkah movies. The only problem? They’re anti-Semitic, December 2, 2019]
Yes, these are lighthearted television romances she’s talking about, with the happy endings typical of the genre. But since they involve Jewish characters learning to participate in non-religious Christmas traditions, they supposedly advocate “forced assimilation,” which, we are assured, “is a form of violence,” even if the filmmakers merely intended it to be part of a budding romance.
Oddly, de la Cretaz [Email her] also objects to the movies’ showing their Jewish characters’ needing to learn about Christmas customs, even though she begins the piece by stating that, “for many of us, ‘not celebrating Christmas’ was a major part of our identity formation.”
After reading this angry essay, one has a hard time imagining any Christmas movie that would appeal to Ms. De la Cretaz, who longs for “a movie that doesn’t conscript into the Christmas cheer.”
Apart from these articles insisting that a part of the Christmas celebration now enjoyed by millions is fascistic, anti-Semitic and just plain wrong, the major MSM current this year was familiar: The contention that (a) there is no War on Christmas; and that (b) even if there were, no reasonable person should care about it.
But several of the diatribes simultaneously defended downplaying the public celebration of Christmas, flagrant doublethink that confirms the concerns of those of us who have called attention to that downplaying and objected to it.
For example, Steven Petrow [Tweet him], writing in USA Today, calls for an end to “this useless ‘War on Christmas’ sadness”—and then proceeds to defend renaming Christmas parades “Winter Parades” and renaming Christmas trees “holiday trees”! He even suggests not wishing anyone “Merry Christmas” unless you first ask “What holiday do you celebrate?” [Let's declare a cease-fire in the 'war on Christmas', December 24, 2019].
Petrow calls this a “cease-fire” but it seems indistinguishable from a surrender.
On Christmas Day, Salon coupled Amanda Marcotte’s attack on Hallmark Christmas movies with Matthew Rozsa’s denial that there is a War on Christmas. But, once again, the author is a tacit proponent of the war he denies exists, arguing that “[t[he American tradition of secularizing Jesus Christ can be traced back to Thomas Jefferson” and that, as a result, it is wrong to claim that the “secularization of the Christmas holiday and season” and the “removal of Christian iconography from . . .public buildings” constitute an attack on Christmas. [There is (still) no "War on Christmas", December 25, 2019 ]. Rozsa [Tweet him] demonizes the public celebration of Christmas as a manifestation of “white identity politics” and even “white supremacy” and declares that “purveyors of the War on Christmas myth…are trafficking in lies.”
In other words, anyone objecting to the downplaying of the public celebration of Christmas is a racist and likely on the road to fascism.
Parker Molloy of Media Matters sounds similar themes, declaring the War on Christmas “the dumbest part of America’s culture war” and asserting that those opposing the War on Christmas “must know that there’s no actual ‘war’ on Christmas” and that there is, instead, “a bombardment of misinformation playing up imaginary [or wildly overblown) examples of political correctness run amok.”
Molloy also avers that “[t]he backbone of the War on Christmas conspiracy theory has always been that of Christian nationalism.” Fascists, white supremacists, Christian nationalists—these are the people who care about the War on Christmas, not ordinary Americans upset by the diminishment of a holiday they love. [A War on Christmas Story: How Fox News built the dumbest part of America's culture war, MMFA, December 25, 2019]
Even self-professed conservatives denied or diminished the War on Christmas. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher argued that his concern over transgenderism was justified because “[t]his is not an invented ‘war on Christmas’ phon[y] button-pushing deal. This consequential war . . . is really happening” [Big T And The Democrats, December 25, 2019].
The magazine’s managing editor, Matt Purple, expanded similar sentiments into a column, plaintively asking “is it really so wrong to say ‘happy holidays’ in a country with so many Jews and Muslims?” and criticizing those of us who have resisted the War on Christmas for “ruining everything with ideological combat” and for “politicizing” Christmas [Seeking an Armistice in the War on Christmas, December 23, 2019].
Purple seems entirely unaware that there was a time when “Merry Christmas” was a universal greeting and the public celebration of Christmas was joyful and exuberant. There was nothing political or ideological about this consensus. Christmas was politicized when this joyous consensus was attacked and undermined, not when publicity over the War on Christmas emboldened ordinary Americans to begin resisting.
Thus, for example, here’s a charming reminder of what Christmas used to be like in America—three of the stars of Hogan's Heroes singing Christmas carols in the language of their native land. What makes this especially noteworthy is that Werner Klemperer's father was a Jewish convert to Catholicism who fled Nazi Germany, John Banner was an Austrian Jew who fled the Nazis, and Robert Clary was a French Jew who was in a concentration camp. Enjoy this little bit of America's Christmas past, from 1965:
One welcome exception to this year’s MSM nonsense on the War on Christmas: a New York Post column by Steve Cuozzo [‘Christmas’ has become a bad word everyone is too afraid to say, December 21, 2019]. Although Cuozzo was reluctant to argue that there is a War on Christmas, he did point out that the word “Christmas” was virtually nonexistent in a variety of media contexts this year, replaced by numerous references to “holiday” and even specific references to other winter holidays, such as Hanukkah: “We have developed a studious avoidance of the word [Christmas], as though its mere mention will easily distress Americans of any denomination.” Cuozzo also notes that, in his lifetime, concerts featuring religious Christmas carols have disappeared from public schools in many places.
And, contra all the hostile Leftists and craven cuckservatives filling up editorial pages, the trends observed by Steve Cuozzo—and anyone else who has actually been paying attention—are important, as I’ve been writing here at VDARE and elsewhere since 2001. I think something I wrote three Christmases ago for Chronicles magazine provides a needed rejoinder to this year’s absurd media consensus:
On Sunday, I got to hear a wonderful Christmas concert by the Cleveland Orchestra…. 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."
On Monday, I got to hear my sister describe a fifth-grade concert she just endured, where 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 Bop," "Ringing Ringing" and "The Wacky Winter Song," the latter a tuneless lament for how cold winter is. Quite a contrast from my own experience in public elementary school, where we sang Christmas carols and learned about this great holiday.
What my sister experienced was a deliberately cultivated cultural desert. As she described the concert she attended, I kept thinking about the one [I] 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": he said the lyrics were in our programs, but he didn't believe anyone would need them. And few seemed to.
But 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.
[A Christmas Desert, December 8, 2016]
Thomas Piatak [Email him] is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.