Letter: Defending the word 'Christmas' while destroying Its spirit

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To the Editor:

To find an actual "war on Christmas" in America you have to go back to the 17th century, when the Puritans banned Christmas trees, carol-singing, gift-giving, and all forms of merriment, which they saw as pagan rituals inherited from the Romans. President Grant felt differently a century later, declaring Christmas an official US national holiday in 1870. He hoped to unite the country after the Civil War by celebrating our shared values and shared humanity.

Today's supposed "War on Christmas" is just a propaganda campaign fueled by bigotry and intolerance, manufactured for the express purpose of distracting and dividing us while fostering a false sense of persecution against the most powerful group in this nation—white Christians. Tragically, the defenders of Christmas defend only the word, while all around them the real war is against those shared values that Grant hoped to nourish and that Americans have embraced for many generations, across religious and political divides.

Take President Trump, who solicits 2020 campaign donations by bragging about saving "Merry Christmas." He presented himself at this year's White House tree lighting ceremony as "the man who brought back Christmas." Ten days later a 7-year-old Guatemalan child died in US custody at a hellish border facility, where children are "stacked in holding cells, huddled in foil blankets on concrete floors," as a Texas congressman described it.

Goodwill? The prospect of stripping health care protections from 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions delighted the president, in spite of the absence of any plan to replace the ACA, should the Texas court's ruling invalidating it hold up.

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Charity? Look no further than the Trump Foundation: a personal piggybank to finance political and personal agendas with money intended to help others.

Caring for others? Trump's Yuletide decision to withdraw troops from Syria is not only a gift to dictators, but almost certainly dooms Syrian citizens to yet another onslaught, endangers our Kurdish allies who helped combat ISIS, and likely sets the stage for an ISIS resurgence with all its attendant cruelty.

Trump and the supposed defenders of Christmas are destroying every good thing it ever stood for. Peace on earth requires that we transcend the tribalism of right-wing rhetoric and recognize that we really are all in this together. Our democracy and our humanity depend on it.

Robin Vaughan Kolderie,

Hoosick, N.Y.


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