President Donald Trump’s campaign to bring back “Merry Christmas” is a dog whistle to white nationalists and a closet method of promoting racial supremacy akin to Hitler’s own, several college professors claimed to Newsweek, which did an entire “investigative report” on the “pressing issue.”
The piece, entitled “How Trump And The Nazis Stole Christmas To Promote White Nationalism,” claims that Trump’s recent push to ban political correctness over the Christmas holiday is merely a marketing ploy to conservative Christians who dabble in neo-Nazism, and who are eager “to define America as a country for white Christians alone.”
The article claims that, previous to Trump’s administration, there had been no sign of a “War on Christmas,” despite years of litigation to remove nativity scenes from public land, a corporate push to re-brand the Christmas rush as the “holiday season,” and a general encroachment of consumerism on what was once a fully religious holiday.
Now, you can certainly argue, quite fairly, that the “War on Christmas” is somewhat overblown, and that Trump’s rhetoric is designed to market his agenda to a certain brand of religious Republicans, and that his speeches lack a nuanced understanding of just how the religious holiday of Christmas has faded into the background in an increasingly secular world.
At first, Newsweek only implied that saying “Merry Christmas” made Trump a white nationalist, speaking to the authority on all things Trump: the nation’s college professors.
“I see such invocations of Christmas as a kind of cypher, what some would call a dog whistle. It does not appear to be intolerant or extreme, but to attentive audiences it speaks volumes about identity and belonging—who and what are fully American,” one college professor who studies white nationalists told the magazine.
“Much like ‘Make America Great Again,’ panics over the protests by NFL players, and the defense of Confederate memory, Christmas is a way to talk about peril, to assert a soft or hard version of white nationalism,” he added.
But then, convinced they were absolutely on the right track, Newsweek went a step further, claiming, with the help of experts on the cultural history of Nazi German, that Donald Trump was, essentially, parroting Hitler, making the previously-immune-to-politics holidays the center of a “propaganda campaign” designed to institute a fascist regime.
Nazi Germany’s propagandists rooted their idea of Christmas in visions of ethno-nationalism. They rewrote the lyrics of Christmas carols, promoted Nazified holiday traditions and launched numerous Christmas charity events for poor Germans. The ultimate goal was to draw a clear line between those who belonged and those who should be excluded, those who could not benefit from the joys of Christmas.
One key difference Newsweek fails to mention until nearly the final paragraph of their story: that Nazi rhetoric and Trump’s “Merry Christmas” speeches differed in one key way. “Trump’s rhetoric differs from that of Nazi Germany’s, most notably because he has never advocated for genocide.”