One of the more bizarre paranoias of modern U.S. political culture concerns the so-called War on Christmas, in which liberals are alleged to seek the elimination of Christianity from the public sphere via a political-correctness campaign against (among other things) the phrase Merry Christmas. Liberals won’t let you say Merry Christmas, it is believed, because they look down their noses at Christians and/or are too sensitive to the potential hurt feelings of minority groups like Jews and Muslims.
As a person who has lived and worked in the purportedly godless East Coast liberal strongholds of Boston and New York for more than 15 years, I can assure you that I have never once heard anyone chastised for saying Merry Christmas, and have in fact said it myself many times and had it said to me just as often. But that’s not the point; the point is that, it now being the Christmas season, a number of Republican presidential candidates are trying to make hay out of the idea that they are loose-cannon renegades who will straight-up say Merry Christmas anywhere, at any time, no matter how much grave personal and electoral danger it may put them in.
Donald Trump has been talking about this since at least September!
“The word Christmas—I love Christmas, I love Christmas—you go to stores now and you don’t see the word Christmas, it says ‘Happy Holidays,’ ” Trump said Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
“Remember the expression ‘Merry Christmas’? You don’t see it anymore,” he added. “You’re going to see it if I get elected, I can tell you right now.”
Here at Slate, we wondered—do we really need Trump in the White House to hear Merry Christmas again? Not really, it turns out. Our current president, in fact, has managed to swallow his secret Muslim pride and wish the country well in its celebration of Jesus’ birthday consistently throughout his two terms. You can watch him do it it the video above, or read it in any number of transcripts here. (The one in the video in a different language is in Hawaiian.)
For example, from Obama’s press conference last Friday:
Merry Christmas, everybody.
So—by all means vote for a Republican candidate if you think they will do a better job as president, but don’t feel obligated to do so if you’re a single-issue Merry Christmas activist. Democrats, it turns out, can keep Christmas in the White House too.
And whatever you do, make sure to have a festive Mandatory Sharia January!