The Right's Pathetic Paranoia: The 8 Worst 'War-on-Christmas' Stories This Year
Every holiday season, the right-wing outrage machine fires up the masses by feeding them misleading, anecdotal stories about a "war on Christmas." The typical war on Christmas story follows a simple pattern: a small town or an obscure group of people make a tiny, harmless gesture toward secularism; local media gets a hold of it; and an echo chamber of outrage, from The Blaze to AM radio to Fox News escalates the situation to a fever pitch, making villains of the secular scrooges and heroes of the persecuted Christians.
On the left it’s become something of a punchline, but on the right it’s as politically potent as ever. Here is a countdown of the year’s dumbest examples.
8. Small town adds “Christmas” to tree-lighting ceremony, rightwing media piles on.
The typical War on Christmas (non) story follows a very simple pattern: a Small town or otherwise obscure group of people make a tiny, harmless gesture towards secularism (this is sometimes brought on by a lawsuit), local media gets a hold of it (the more clickbait-y the better) and an echo chamber of outrage, from The Blaze to AM radio to Fox News quickly escalates the situation to a fever pitch, making villains of the secular scrooges and heroes of the persecuted Christians.
One war on Christmas tale, however, broke the mold in 2015 when Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze and other right-wing outlets subverted the time-tested genre and actually showed a war on Christmas victory in Roselle Park, New Jersey. The small town of 13,500 voted to add the word “Christmas” to its “tree-lighting ceremony” prompting one town councilwoman, Charlene Storey, to resign, telling NJ.com that the event favors one religion, and “cuts non-Christians out of the loop. I cannot in good conscience continue to be part of a council that is exclusionary or to work with a mayor who is such.”
For her principled stance, Storey was rewarded by being harassed on Twitter by unhinged religious nuts. While this was a war on Christmas “victory,” one of the key elements, plucking obscure nobodies and subjecting them to the inevitable Internet backlash, was still in full effect. Good job, Glenn Beck, even when you win you lose.
7. Ben Carson bravely says “Merry Christmas."
One of the silliest of these self-victimization spectacles is the assumption that saying “Merry Christmas” is a bold thing to do. Evangelical favorite Ben Carson tweeted out “Not Afraid to Say Merry Christmas,” which is strange since there’s absolutely no reason anyone should be afraid. President Obama wishes the country a Merry Christmas every year when it’s, you know, actually Christmas.
6. Zombie nativity designed to troll right-wing media does just that.
It takes two to troll. the troll and the trollee. Clearly, when Jason Dixon set out to make a “zombie nativity” scene he was looking to piss off some people and, right on cue, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly took the bait, plucking an otherwise obscure eccentric and dedicating over 6 minutes of national air time to cover a silly “free speech” project.
To provide a little levity to this clearly Very Serious Issue, O’Reilly had on a perennially bored Dennis Miller to phone-in a segment where he made “jokes” about Dixon going to hell while reinforcing the victim status of O’Reilly’s 85-120-year old white, Christian demographic. It’s pretty painful to watch, primarily because O’Reilly begins the segment with a brief moment of self-awareness where he admits he’s being trolled but soldiers on anyway. After all, they have old people to scare and life insurance sponsors to satisfy.
5. War on Christmas starts early with ACLU lawsuit.
In a fairly clear violation of church and state, a public high school in Elkhart, Indiana planned a "Christmas Spectacular," including a nativity scene featuring the baby Jesus and a recounting of the birth of Christ. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, in concert with the ACLU, sued Concord Community schools on behalf of an unnamed student and Fox News was predictably outraged, with resident online straight-shooter Todd Starnes firing the opening shots: "You would think the anti-Christmas crowd would wait until there’s frost on the pumpkin patch before pillaging and plundering our long-cherished yuletide traditions. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been chomping at the bit to bully those who celebrate the birth of Jesus."
Those shifty-eyed atheists just can’t wait to get their greasy secular paws on sacred Christian traditions. The segment went on to be featured on Fox and Friends and was set to go until a judge stepped in and banned the overly religious aspects of the play this month. Another devastating defeat for God’s warriors in the brutal, decades-long war on Christmas.
4. Obscure Kentucky school cuts biblical line from "Charlie Brown."
Officials at W.R. Castle Elementary School in Johnson County, Kentucky removed a single line in their production of “Charlie Brown Christmas” that involved Linus Van Pelt directly quoting Luke 2:8-14 while singing a song about what The Blaze refers to as, “the true meaning of Christmas.” The outrage over this inconsequential decision was swift and fierce, peaking with war on Christmas four-star general Glenn Beck calling on parents at W.R. Castle to yell out the passage from Luke when that part of the song came up. When the big day came, his obedient soldiers obliged, leading to viral video gold that further lined Beck’s pockets and provided a moral victory for the right-wing Christian community of the small Kentucky town.
“The parents in the bleachers basically quoted the verse from the book of Luke, and it was just an amazing moment, it really was,” Joey Collins, parent of one Kentucky student, told The Blaze. “Everybody was pretty much in tears and clapping. It was just a great time.” Strike a victory for the home team. In a county that has a poverty rate almost twice the national average and a childhood poverty rate over 36%, it’s good to see the media is covering what matters.
3. O’Reilly flunkie Jesse Watters harrases mayor in grocery store parking lot over alleged Christmas crimes.
Every year in the town of Plantation, Florida, Mark and Kathy Hyatt string 200,000 lights in their front yard and install a 20-foot ferris wheel as part of the “Hyatt Extreme Christmas” that draws thousands of spectators. This year, the town's mayor, Diane Veltri Bendekovic, sued the Hyatts to recoup the added cost to the city for hiring policemen and traffic cops to manage the spectacle, and lo and behold, the dogs of Christmas war were unleashed.
Noted stalker and Long Island fratboy Jesse Watters quickly descended on Plantation, hunting down the demure mayor in a grocery store parking lot where he berated her with his patented line of loaded and bad faith questions. Watch watch the shameful episode below if you can stomach it.
2. San Bernardino shooting was a “literal war on Christmas.”
Fox and Friends speculated that the ISIS-inspired terror attack in San Bernardino was, in fact, part of the war on Christmas. Why? Because the attack took place during an office holiday party. Peter Johnson, doing his best Glenn Beck "just asking questions" routine, idly speculated:
But, if you look at the dots, if you start to connect them in a way that's rational and reasonable, and not political, based on simple things we know about terrorism, simple things we know about criminal justice, then it leads ineluctably and inescapably to that one horrible conclusion, terror. Is it based on politics? Is it based on religion? Is it based on hate? Is it a literal war on Christmas?
But it wasn’t a Christmas party, it was a holiday party, and some of the victims were Jewish, rendering the idea the attack was a "literal war on Christmas" even more offensive.
1. Starbucks Holiday Cupghazi.
No war on Christmas roundup would be complete without the bit of manufactured outrage that was the great Starbucks cup controversy of November 2015.
It all began with a video by self-described “evangelist, Internet, and social media personality” Joshua Feuerstein, who noted in a viral video that Starbucks cups were a monotone red this year, as opposed to the imagery of snowflakes and other icons typically associated with Christmas. In response, Starbucks said the cups “were meant to be a blank canvas for customers to create their own stories” (which is about as dumb as any part of this non-controversy).
To add fuel to the fire, GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for a boycott of the Seattle-based coffee chain. What followed was counter-outrage on the left met by more outrage on the right. In a delightful twist, Glenn Beck’s typically reliable troll hole, The Blaze, balked, insisting that “serious Christians” should not be concerned with this particular battle in the war on Christmas and that the whole thing was a liberal false flag. This makes it the first meta-war on Christmas story, and for this reason alone, Starbucks Holiday Cupghazi gets the number one spot of 2015.