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War on Christmas: who is really losing?

author: michelle jones| copy editor

Credit: Kevin Dooley

A Meme on Michelle’s Facebook Feed read: WHAT A CROCK! … we can’t say Merry Christmas now we have to say Happy Holidays. We can’t call it a Christmas tree, it’s not called a holiday tree because it might offend someone? If you don’t like our “customs” and it offends you so much then LEAVE… I will help you pack. They are called customs and we have our traditions. If you agree with this, post as your status! IT’S MY FREEDOM TO SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS! Do you have what it takes to re-post this? I did and I will continue to say “Merry Christmas.”

The “War on Christmas” is nothing new. I tend to ignore it, since it’s impossible to argue with anyone who has a strong opinion on the matter. One thing I have noticed, though, is a really disturbing meme making its rounds on social media. Perhaps this meme isn’t new; perhaps it’s the fact that Trump is the new president-elect of the United States that made me more sensitive to it. All I know is it bothered me – a lot.

I think what bothers me most, however, is that I was seeing this meme because friends were sharing it. My friends. Friends who say they support causes such as LGBTQ+ rights, religious freedom, and people immigrating to Canada to seek refuge from war-torn countries. Yet, this meme that they’re sharing is telling these people they aren’t wanted here unless they’re willing to conform. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this story before.

The really surprising thing about this is that the majority of my friends sharing this meme are not Trump supporters. They claim they’re against everything Trump stands for. Even so, this meme is saying the exact opposite. How are people surprised that Trump was elected when so many people who aren’t Trump supporters are posting things on social media that are completely in line with his hateful views? And, more importantly, why are more people not standing up to those who are spreading this kind of hate?

I really wish people would see the irony in this meme. First, Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and love, according to Christianity. However, sharing this meme sends a message of hate and intolerance. Second, this meme is saying, “Stop pushing your beliefs on me, but it’s okay if I push mine on you.” Like the meme says, “If you don’t like our ‘customs’ and it offends you so much then leave … I will help you pack. They are called customs and we have our traditions.” I thought peace, love, and tolerance were part of those customs and traditions. I suppose it’s okay to change these beliefs and customs to suit us, though, right?

The thing those on my social media friends list didn’t realize when they shared this meme is that it was also directed at me. I’m Pagan. While I do celebrate Christmas, because I grew up in a Christian household, I don’t observe it for the Christian beliefs. For me, it’s a day to spend with family and friends. I celebrate Yule, which is one of many other holidays around this time of year, most having been around long before Christmas – and Christianity, for that matter. But, when I pointed out everything I’ve just mentioned here, I was met with hostility. How dare I try to make them look bad in front of everyone? Well, here’s a newsflash: you took care of that entirely on your own when you shared that meme.

My point here isn’t to rant about a disgusting meme that I saw on social media, or whether or not we should say “merry Christmas” or “happy holidays.” I’m hoping that by writing this, people will look at the real message behind what they are sharing and choose what they share more carefully. I also hope that when people see things like this shared on social media, they will say something. Staying silent doesn’t make a problem go away, it makes it worse. Half of America stayed silent on election day, and look how that turned out.

About Michelle Jones

Faculty: Graduate Studies/English
Major: English
Year: M.A. Student
About me: I’m an English M.A. student, former president of the English Students’ Association, and the Carillon Grammar Nazi. I love fine wine and anything pink, and hate intolerance and closed-mindedness.