A million, zillion years ago, before trans issues entered the mainstream, and before anyone had any idea how Mark Lilla felt about gender-neutral bathrooms, there was another anti-‘political-correctness’ topic-du-jour: the so-called War on Christmas. Much as society is now splitting down the lines of those who think it’s just basic human decency to call people by their preferred pronouns (even knowing that the vast majority stick with the ones assigned at birth) and those who consider acknowledging the humanity of a small minority group Very Very Unfair, back in the day, the split was between those who agreed to say “holidays” out of sensitivity to the country’s five non-Christmas-observers (or as we also like to be called, “Jews”*), and those who were all, nah. (I believe this particular debate continues, over disposable coffee cup design.) While some see a menorah next to a Christmas tree and think, well, that’s nice and inclusive, others see the PC Police and get in a huff.
So it makes perfect sense — perfect I tell you! — that we may owe Donald J. Trump’s delightful decision to enter public service as the next president of the United States to old-school anti-‘PC’ regarding The Holidays. An August Buzzfeed piece by Andrew Kaczynski (via Parker Molloy, who’s on top of this story) tells us that Eric Trump attributed his dad’s decision to run in part to his “see[ing] the tree on the White House lawn […] renamed ‘holiday tree’ instead of ‘Christmas tree.’” Which it wasn’t. There’s a National Christmas Tree, and a White House Christmas tree was just delivered and everything. (I take it these are two different trees, one indoor, one outdoor, like a soccer season or a cat.) But as Eric remembers it, dad was like, this won’t do! None of that making symbolic gestures of acceptance towards marginalized communities!
It’s no great surprise, when you think about it, that a campaign inspired by the imagined War on Christmas would lead to a presidency that’s already started frightening many of the non-Christmas-observing population, before it’s even begun.
*Fine, some of whom celebrate Christmas, still others of whom don’t feel microaggressed by tinsel.
Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at email@example.com. Her book, The Perils of “Privilege”, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017.