The most important ingredient in the "War on Christmas": victimhood
To the culture war right, every action must be treated as aggression.
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On the internet and in the media, it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to understand what people are even talking about — especially when it comes to culture war-related outrages. Take this graphic, for instance, which I found in a Facebook group called “I Love Guns” (though I do not know where, exactly, it originated, as versions of it have popped up elsewhere):
Your first response to seeing things like “Santa is a man” and “Baby Jesus was a boy…not a ‘theybie’” might be a big ol’ “WTF is this person talking about???” And that’s understandable. While I recognized some of these talking points, some eluded me.
“Santa is a man” refers to a viral story from a few years back that originated with a graphic design company’s unscientific poll asking people how they would “rebrand” and “modernize” Santa. Respondents were specifically asked to change something about the classic vision of Santa, so this is not evidence of some sort of genuine movement to wipe out Santa as we know him, but rather, just a bad online poll.
Still, it provided conservative media outlets exactly what they needed: an excuse to present this as some sort of movement to strip them of everything they love about Christmas, driven by political correctness (that was in 2018; in 2021, they’d probably blame the equally vague term “wokeness”).
The only reference to Jesus as a “Theybie” I could find was 2019 article from conservative Australian columnist Lucy Carne attacking trans people for daring to criticize a certain author of books featuring a boy wizard. She cites the fake 2018 “gender-neutral Santa” poll and an instance of a woman writing that people were mean to her in a Facebook group she happened to be in (which was in no way newsworthy and not some sign of a giant trend if it happened at all) before launching into a completely bonkers rant about things that haven’t happened.
What next in the war on gender? Must Mary only be referred to as a pregnant person (not woman), who gave birth to Theybie Jesus? And she was visited by the Three Wise Thems and Little Drummer Enby? Will Mr and Mrs Claus become Mx Claus? Will we be singing “I saw Maddy (nonbinary Mummy and Daddy pronoun) kissing Santa Claus?” And will genderless priest robots deliver sermens?
Other items on this list are familiar to me if for no other reason than the fact that for years a big part of my job was keeping tabs on what was happening in right-wing media. For instance, the odd “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer actually teaches kids NOT to be bullies” line is throwback to a 2018 round of right-wing outrage sparked by right-wing media pretending that a video listed under HuffPost’s “Comedy” vertical meant to be a tongue-in-cheek “Viewers Noticed Some Very Disturbing Details In ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’” joke was an actual “We need to talk about this problematic thing” post, which it wasn’t. Anybody who looked at this for more than two seconds would realize this was a joke… and the video was filled with joke tweets… several from comedians. “The North Pole needs a HR department. All these bosses are horrible,” reads one of the jokes.
Just look at the replies to that post on Twitter. It was completely and totally deranged.
But days (and even weeks) after the HuffPost video got posted, right-wing media kept insisting that yes, the left was trying to ban Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from TV (in 2021, they would have probably said something like, “The left wants to cancel Rudolph!!!”) There’s no doubt in my mind that the people working at Fox, for instance, were aware that the video was a joke. They just knew that their audience was fired up and decided to run with it.
The coverage just kept on coming.
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