Believe it or not, Donald Trump tweeted this on Christmas Eve:
I have seen an inordinate amount of propaganda posted over the last 24 hours aimed at perpetuating the ridiculous notion that there is “a war” on the phrase “Merry Christmas.”
Let me just say that I would like nothing better than to give you some examples of that propaganda on the way to mercilessly lampooning it for your holiday amusement but ultimately, I don’t think that’s constructive and I’ll tell you why.
There’s a lot of utility in “fighting the good fight” (as it were) against the jingoistic nonsense that’s force-fed to netizens on a daily basis by portals pushing phony populism. The content that emanates from the propaganda echo chamber is poison and the hypocrisy inherent in the message ranges from subtle to egregious.
This kind of bullshit deserves to be called what it is, but the crusade against it is rendered largely futile by virtue of the fact that the purveyors target the uneducated. They monetize fear by serving ads against lies and race-baiting nonsense and the more they feed that fear, the more entrenched it becomes. These charlatans whittle down whatever defenses uneducated netizens had to the point where no “story” seems too outlandish. When you can make your audience believe that the Starbucks barista is conspiring with the liberal elite to tarnish the legacy of Jesus, you can convince them of anything. Once you “succeed” in completely decimating people’s critical thinking skills, those people are utterly incapable of listening to anything that even approximates reason. That’s what I mean when I say the crusade against the propaganda campaign is largely futile.
But it is important for the sane among you to take a step back today to appreciate how truly absurd the tweet shown above is. That is the actual President of the United States insisting that he has “led the charge” against what he swears to Christ (get it?) is an all-out “assault” on the phrase “Merry Christmas.” You’d think people were being thrown in prison by liberal gestapo for wearing Christmas sweaters. Or that people were being shot dead in the streets for wearing red and green at the same time.
And while it’s tempting to just sit back and marvel at the sheer absurdity of it, there is a method to Trump’s madness on this one that needs to be expounded upon.
Let’s just be clear: Donald Trump wouldn’t piss on a holy manger if the hay were on fire. If Jesus and an especially heavy briefcase full of $100 bills were dangling off the edge of a cliff and Trump had to drop one to haul in the other one, you’d find Jesus at the bottom of a ravine later that day. If Rudolph was starving to death Trump wouldn’t throw him a McDonald’s chicken nugget.
So why the hell does he keep talking about this “cherished and beautiful phrase”?
Well to answer that question, allow us to reprint a piece we ran earlier this year which we think is particularly important in light of the fact that the President has turned the Christmas propaganda knob up to a Spinal Tap-ish “11.”
‘No One Talks About It Anymore’: Trump Is Pushing The ‘War On Christmas’ Meme Again
Implicit in Donald Trump’s promise to “make America great again” is the contention that the country has “lost” something called “greatness.” Also implicit in #MAGA is that Donald Trump is the only person who is prepared to help Americans reclaim what’s been lost.
On that, recall the following from Notes From Disgracedland:
Populism is like pornography: Everything is explicit, but the plot cannot be taken seriously. Populist reality is actualized through the positive feedback loop of suspension of disbelief: A political figure infuses a human interest and a semblance of truth into an unrealistic and far-fetched agenda, while the audience suspends judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Populist politics has a very rigid form. Irrespective of its platform, its backbone consists of three basic building blocks: Flattery/seduction, self-pity, and vengeance. Systems in need of legitimation create especially fertile ground for populism. This is the key reason for its resurgence in the last decades. The mystique of populism’s appeal has the same origin and logic as pyramid schemes — when easy money (or quick fixes) is offered, we don’t ask for rationale. And we always take the bait believing that we are the perpetrators and not the victims.
Making promises gets politicians elected. Populists tend to make grand promises, but generally fall short of honoring them. They inevitably vouch to deliver greatness, bring country back to its citizens, restore the national pride, save the culture, create jobs and prosperity, and last but not least, kick some ass along the way. Populism is really there to restore the natural order of things. And while list of promises varies across regions, histories and personalities, restorative commitment to greatness is a must in all of them. Without it, there is no serious candidate.
Does that sound familiar to you? It should. And if it doesn’t, think about what we’ve seen and heard out of Donald Trump and then read it again with that in mind.
To borrow one more time from the piece excerpted above, the presence of the word “again” in #MAGA is key for three reasons one of which is that it evokes self-pity. The idea is that something has been taken from the people and it needs to be reclaimed.
The extent to which that’s true varies. In some cases – take manufacturing jobs – there might be plausible arguments to support it. In other cases, it’s patently ridiculous.
One of example of the patently ridiculous is Trump’s contention that there is “a war on Christmas.” This is a blatant attempt to pander to his base and reinforce the notion that America’s values and heritage have been hijacked. It’s part of the same “nostalgia” for something that he claims has been lost. Watch this clip from a speech at the Christian public policy conference:
Trump: “They don’t use the word Christmas because it’s not politically correct … We’re saying Merry Christmas again” https://t.co/9NrQgpwCxn
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 13, 2017
Yes, “we’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore.”
Absurd? Yes. Funny? Yes. But it’s important to understand it in the context of the populist message. Again:
Everything is explicit, but the plot cannot be taken seriously. A political figure infuses a human interest and a semblance of truth into an unrealistic and far-fetched agenda, while the audience suspends judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.