By MAYA PAGE
“They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct. Well, guess what, we’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” President Donald Trump said during his speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, back in October.
It’s that time of year again, when the country is divided by the “War on Christmas.”
The debate whether one should say Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays” has been going on for over a decade. Should America, the melting pot of the world, respect the tradition of the Christian holiday or be more inclusive to other faiths?
The War on Christmas has become about much more than whether Starbucks should have holiday cups or not, it has become a political statement. Using the more sensitive phrase “Happy Holidays” is supposedly liberals attacking and insulting Christians. On the other hand, using the phrase “Merry Christmas” is excluding the rest of the country that is not a part of the Christian majority.
The controversy stemmed tremendously from the far-right, and it often seems this ‘war’ is fueled completely by people’s need to attack when their beliefs feel threatened. The idea of the War on Christmas blew up in the media in 2005 when John Gibson appeared on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss his new book, “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought,” according to the New York Times.
The argument made by Gibson in his book is that the government and large corporations are actively pushing an anti-Christian agenda. Two of the examples that are mentioned include schools writing “Winter Break” on their calendars rather than “Christmas Break” and U.S. Postal Services featuring snowmen on holiday stamps. On the show, O’Reilly commented that this is all a part of a liberal plot “aimed to get religion out, so then you can pass secular progressive programs like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will and gay marriage.”
So, according to O’Reilly and Gibson, every employee that greets customers with a “Happy Holidays” is participating in the War on Christmas. That is their logic, as opposed to the more realistic explanation that corporations do not want to lose customers by excluding the other holidays in December, like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. Maybe it has nothing to do with a political movement, but department stores wanting to continue making money during the holidays.
First off, stating that abortions and Christmas are correlated is a very far stretch and frankly sounds ridiculous. Second, even though Christmas is traditionally a Christian holiday, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, 81 percent of non-Christians in the United States celebrate Christmas, not for religious reasons, but as a cultural event.
Dan Cassino, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus wrote an article titled, “How Fox News Created the War on Christmas” in the Harvard Business Review. Cassino conducted a study at FDU’s PublicMind research center in 2016 and concluded that watching Fox News increases the likelihood of agreeing that there’s a war on Christmas by five to 10 points.
“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,” Cassino said.
A single news source has impacted society and led a large section of the American public to believe in a made up political conflict. The channel’s viewers have been conditioned to believe that every Christmas tree, Santa hat and snow flake must be examined through a political lens.
The politicizing of the issue must end once and for all. The answer to the big question “is there really a War on Christmas?” is no. There is no real war and nobody is actually trying to ban Christmas. It is all a fabricated story made up to divide the country and find another reason to argue about something.
Corporations will continue to use inclusive phrases like “Happy Holidays” and refrain from using decorations that are affiliated with one religion, such as an angel on a tree. It is the most respectful thing to do in that environment, but when the environment changes people can celebrate whatever holiday they want to. The point is not to get rid of Christmas, but to simply respect other holidays as well and include everyone from all faiths.