Christmas culture war divides America more than ever

From our correspondent in the United States,

In the early 2000s, the most virulent Christmas debate in the United States was about Starbucks pumpkin spice latte (strong opinion: it’s filthy). But for the past fifteen years, “Christmas” has been on the front lines of the culture war that is tearing America apart. On religion and traditions, the wokisme and political correctness.

Should we say “Merry Christmas” to our colleagues? Can we have a Christmas tree at school or a nursery at the town hall? This year, elected Conservatives have taken the provocation to the next level, brandishing their semi-automatic rifles in their family photos.

Photos that go badly after the shooting in a high school

It is Thomas Massie, an elected ultra-conservative, who drew the first, Saturday. The Kentucky representative – one of twelve Republicans who refused to decorate Capitol Hill cops – poses with his wife and children. No matching PJs (matching pajamas) here, but proudly wielding semi-automatic rifles, including AR-15s, and even a collectible M60 submachine gun for the congressman. And a message to Santa Claus: “Please bring us some ammunition. “

Posted four days after the shooting that left four dead and seven injured at a Michigan high school, the photo obviously made waves. It was notably denounced par Fred Guttenberg, who lost her daughter in the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018: “Since we share family photos, here are mine. Number one is the last one I took from Jamie. The other is where she is buried because of the Parkland shooting. The Michigan shooter and his family also used to take pictures like yours. “

On Tuesday, young Colorado elected Lauren Boebert, a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment, responded to Thomas Massie, posing with her four sons each holding a gun. The youngest is 8 years old.

“Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays”

The Christmas cultural rift did not start with politics but in mass distribution. In 2005, the giants Walmart and Target, among others, replaced “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” in their advertising campaigns, for the sake of inclusiveness. The clash is immediate. The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights begins a crusade against an “anti-Christian” campaign. Very influential at the time, the star presenter of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, got involved. The following year, Walmart and Target backtracked. Best Buy refuses, stressing that “all (end of year) holidays are important”: Christmas, but also Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, celebrated by African Americans.

Arriving at the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama break with the tradition of their predecessors. The official 2009 greeting card no longer mentions Christmas. The war on Christmas becomes an annual subject on Fox News, which forgets the dozens of times the US president has said “Merry Christmas”, especially in the traditional year-end video.

In 2015, Starbucks pulled out red and green cups but, sacrilegious, without Christmas ornament or Rudolph. Donald Trump, then a candidate for the Republican primary, is positioning himself. He suggests a boycott of the Seattle channel and swears: “If I become president, we will all say ‘Merry Christmas’!” “. For Republican candidates, surf the culture war – whether on the critical race theory or Dr Seuss’ bogus “cancellation” – seems to galvanize the conservative electorate, as in Virginia last month.

As spirits heat up again as December 25 approaches, there is already a collateral victim: the tree-shaped structure enthroned in front of the Fox News offices. was set on fire by a homeless person on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday. Ainsley Earhardt, a Fox & Friends presenter, denounced an attack “on a tree that unites us all.” It represents the spirit of Christmas, the holiday season, Jesus, Hanukkah. ” Or not.