Sunday, December 10, 2017
Captain Crunch, Defender of Christmas
Captain Crunch loves Christmas.
The criminal conspiracy of Snap, Crackle and Pop, not so much.
Judging from this special Xmas-themed box of the Captain's tooth-murdering sugary cereal, noticed on the shelves of Target the other day, conveniently juxtaposed with the season-denying Kellogg's Krispy product ... well, let's just say the outraged Fox News diatribe writes itself: "'Who is Kellogg's trying to fool? 'Holiday colors?' Those are green and red, the traditional colors of Christmas as outlined in the Holy Bible..."
The president of the United States lit a match under the traditional War on Christmas bonfire last week. "You don't see 'Merry Christmas' anymore," he whined. "You see 'Happy New Year.' You see red. And you see snow."
Crunch good! Krispies bad! Need I point out that Crunch is based on corn, an American product, while Krispies contains rice, harvested in Southeast Asia?
My first instinct was to ignore this seasonal disorder as trivial compared to the true outrages and quasi-treasons Trump commits daily. Just another example of the why-are-you-hitting-yourself bully tactic so often used by the Right, of conjuring up some idiotic stance and then pretending someone you don't like embraces it. Nobody is offended by "Merry Christmas." There is no effort to dampen the holiday that pervades every corner of American society from the moment the Halloween candy is put away until the New Year's decorations are taken down. Barack Obama said "Merry Christmas" all the time—MSNBC put together a pointed highlights reel of him saying exactly that, again and again and again. What Obama didn't do is make a big deal of it, weaponizing Christmas, tainting it, as Trump does everything he touches. By the time he's done, "Merry Christmas" will carry an emotional wallop somewhere between "sieg heil" and "fuck you."
Why pay attention at all? That's easy. Because there is a larger point here.
The entire GOP worldview is based on false victimization. Their own victimization, conjured up to mask an ugly truth. In a world of true victims, Republicans sympathize with only themselves. Why? Because they can no longer traffic in the open language of hate, of supremacy—they can't simply despise specific groups as inferiors. It isn't done anymore, at least not openly. The next best thing is to imagine offenses that they are the victims of at the hands of those they hunger to condemn. Thus gay people are not simply people, trying to get married, raise families. No, they have an agenda, to destroy straight marriage, to corrupt children (I wonder if Republicans will be able to repeat that one with a straight face after Roy Moore wins on Tuesday. Sadly, they will. We live in the Golden Age of Hypocrisy).
That's why Mexicans have to be murderers and rapists, Muslims have to be terrorists. Otherwise Republicans would just be hating people for no reason, and even Donald Trump has enough dim self-awareness to realize that won't fly, thanks to a century of glacial progress.
Remember where "Happy Holidays" came from. Fifty years ago it was merely assumed everyone was a white Christian. Trust me, it's true. I was there. Inclusion meant tucking in a grating Hanukkah carol into the Christmas Concert, sung condescendingly for the class Jew, who was expected to be grateful.
At some point, educators—and TV stations, and cereal makers, and anyone involved in interacting with the public—began to realize that their classroom, their audience, their customers, were actually quite diverse. They weren't all white. They weren't all straight. They weren't all Christian. It was odd to have a Christmas concert in a school where half the students didn't celebrate Christmas. So they began to nudge the net open a bit wider. A "holiday" concert. "Happy Holidays" includes Christmas.
Fox News grabbed it like a hungry dog and began shaking. This, like gay marriage, like a functioning immigration system, like anything that acknowledges the existence of people who make our nation's terrified third uncomfortable, is simply unacceptable. They lack the honesty to say, "I don't want them here. Their existence detracts from my fragile self-image. I wish they would go away."
Accommodating them is an insult. It is oppression, and implies these non-Merry-Christmas-saying creatures also belong. That it is their country too. Trump's Christmas posturing might seem trivial, and at one level it is. But at another it reflects an elemental part of his basic appeal: the illusion that American can be undone, the projector of time run backward, and the shrinking white Christian majority return to its lost Eden where their inferiors bowed their heads and stepped off the sidewalk, mumbling apologies, as the country's true owners strode by, masters of all they surveyed.