As part of his late-inning effort to capture the attention of cultural conservative voters in Iowa, Rick Perry provided an ad that received both media attention and the response of perturbed progressive opponents, fellow Republicans concerned about the anti-gay strategy, and internet parody producers.
The ad proclaimed his proud Christian identity, asserted that military service by gay persons is a problem, and attacked President Obama’s “war on religion.” Part of this attack was a perennial mainstay of cultural conservative angst during the Yuletide season: “there’s something wrong in this country when . . . kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas.”
This parry by Perry against an allegedly pernicious “War on Christmas” was preceded this holiday season by media cultural warrior Bill O’Reilly, as well as the cast of Fox and Friends, whose annual protestations were met by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart with a predictably satirical response.
The FOX News diatribes have included concerns, for instance, that the National Christmas Tree outside the Capitol isn’t sufficiently Christian, despite the historical context (ironically reported by FOX News) that the Christmas tree tradition isn’t even Christian in the first place.
This year, Perry isn’t the only one leveraging the political value of Christmas, as recent ads from Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul illustrate. Perry’s ad, however, is the only one in this presidential year to explicitly allege a “war” on religion, and implicitly allege a “war on Christmas.” Since we are once again in a time when our holiday season intersects with a high-profile campaign season, and in what I believe is in the true spirit of a defense of Christmas, I offer an essay co-written a few years back by myself and my friend and colleague Michele Ramsey from Penn State University—Berks Campus, which contextualizes the so-called “War on Christmas” in a way usually absent from the media coverage of this so-called controversy.
Merry Christmas – and Happy Holidays – to you and yours from the Political Denizens.