Opinion | The ‘War on Christmas’ and other fables

How politicians and the media try to trick you with scare tactics.


Sophia Meador, Opinions Editor

Happy Holidays; what a divisive sentiment.

The holiday season begins after Thanksgiving and is marked by religious holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Even people who are not religious partake in holiday festivities like gift giving, parties, and music.

But some people think the holidays are exclusively for Christians and claim non-denominational sentiments like “Happy Holidays” are a “War on Christmas.” This logic is a scheme by far-right commentators to distract from actual issues. Unfortunately, this type of rhetoric is not only seen during the holiday season.

The so-called “War on Christmas” is not a new phenomenon.

In 1920, Henry Ford published an antisemitic book titled “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.” Ford claimed Jews were attempting to rid the Christmas holiday from public settings.

Ford blamed a segment of the population. Their ultimate goal was not to defend Christmas but to install fear that specified groups were going to change Americans’ way of life.

Throughout the 21st century, this unjustified rhetoric has been amplified in the media and GOP.

In December 2021, a Christmas tree outside the Fox News headquarters in New York City was set ablaze. This prompted Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson to declare the fire a hate crime.

The fire was set by an incoherent individual after “thinking about lighting the tree on fire all day,” according to the criminal complaint.

Former President Donald Trump fully embraced this rhetoric during his presidential campaign and presidency.

“If I become president, we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ at every store,” Trump said in 2015.

Far-right politicians and commentators want you to believe that inclusive language and initiatives are attempts to go after the Christmas holiday. This group wants Americans to believe liberals and Democrats are trying to change their way of life.

Unfortunately, this strategy works. In a 2021 survey by the Fairleigh Dickinson University, 37 percent of adults said they believe politicians are trying to remove the religious elements of the holiday season.

This rhetoric goes far beyond Christmas. It’s used widely by far-right politicians and commentators to distract from policy and issues.

Like the war on Christmas, Gov. Kim Reynolds and the GOP are placing blame on transgender students to advance their own goals.

In the past year, Reynolds and Republicans in the Iowa Legislature have made drastic measures to bar transgender students from expressing their identity and participating in sports that align with their gender identity.

Reynolds and the GOP want you to believe that transgender students are predators, and their presence will strip parental choice from schools. Reynolds has used this rhetoric to promote policies to publicly fund private schools and gut social services.

Any rhetoric that targets a group of society, especially marginalized communities, should never be accepted. This is not exclusively an issue that pertains to the far-right; most media outlets and politicians have incorrectly blamed individuals for their own benefit.

Rather than focus on this divisive concept, the media and politicians should focus more on issues that matter, not made-up theories.

It’s important to stay informed with politics and recognize when commentators or politicians are falsely targeting groups of people or individuals.

Stay mindful, and — of course — happy holidays.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.