While Donald Trump continues to promote the seemingly contradictory views that America should withdraw from its global military engagements in Afghanistan and elsewhere while requesting massive increases to the military budget, the domestic culture wars are a fight from which the president seems highly unlikely to retreat.
Trump has frequently demonstrated his dedication to utilizing the talking points of right-wing media provocateurs in his never-ending political campaign to smear Democrats with absurd lies about positions few, if any, of them have actually taken, and did so again at his speech to the young conservative extremists gathered at the Turning Point USA in West Palm Beach, Florida yesterday.
In addition to the usual imbecilic and self-serving propaganda regarding the Democrats’ efforts to remove him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of C0ngress — “Crazy Nancy, she’s crazy,” Trump said of the House Speaker who is now deliberating on when to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate in a process he cynically describes as “so unfair” despite its footing in the Constitution — the president not only signaled his support for the ludicrous concept of a liberal “war on Christmas,” he also falsely claimed credit for initiating the battle and winning the conflict.
“You remember they were trying to take Christmas out of Christmas? They didn’t want to let you say ‘Merry Christmas,’” Trump reminded the audience of young right-wingers.
“You’d go around, you’d see department stores they’d have everything red, snow, beautiful, ribbons, bows. Everything was there but they wouldn’t say ‘Merry Christmas’. They’re all saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
“That’s the least I could do,” he said with a concluding pat of his own back.
Unfortunately for the president, in the real world where “alternative facts” don’t hold sway, reasonable and compassionate people all know that the supposed “war on Christmas” is a resentful conservative marketing ploy aimed at swaying evangelical voters who consider the thoughtful consideration by those who wish to be inclusive in their season’s greetings towards non-Christians during the holidays to be an assault on their very being rather than the simple exercise of polite social graces.
No has ever even tried to legislate a ban on using the words “Merry Christmas,” any attempt at which would violate the First Amendment’s right to free speech and be declared unconstitutional instantaneously if anyone ever did.
The whole concept of a war on Christmas originated with a right-wing talk radio show host who saw it as a way to get traction on an issue that addressed those offended or threatened by the changing cultural demographics of our melting pot nation — a nation that has seen the traditional White Anglo-Saxon Protestant segment of the population dwindle as immigrants, both Christian and non-Christian, transform the populace.
It was likely triggered by the battles over the interpretation of the separation of church and state that is mandated by the constitution and resulted in one segment of the country being concerned that state-sanctioned Nativity scenes violated that separation, while the other side shouted erroneously about how America has always been a Christian nation and how the “liberals” should keep hands off their traditions, constitutionality be damned.
It’s no surprise that Trump — who has plainly stated how much he loves the poorly educated — would latch onto this skirmish in the culture wars and declare himself its general.
The president knows that the vast majority of his base is not fluent in constitutional nuances and would react with a gut emotion to these false flag attacks on their beloved holiday.
In one way the issue is perfect for Trump since it shares with him a complete lack of substance, a disregard for the Constitution, and the support of the evangelicals whom he depends on if he has even the slightest shred of hope for reelection.
Despite the President’s divisive rhetoric — so unbecoming of the actual meaning of the Christmas holiday and those of other religious traditions — the rest of the country can continue to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Festivus, Cheerful Kwanza, or whatever greeting you yourself deem appropriate to the person being addressed and celebrate the fact that we still enjoy the right to free speech in this country…for now at least.
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Original reporting by Conrad Duncan at The Independent.