“Thanksgiving” is problematic now, Donald Trump announced Tuesday night.
“As we gather together for Thanksgiving, you know, some people want to change the name Thanksgiving,” the president told a crowd of supporters in Sunrise, Florida. “They don’t want to use the term Thanksgiving. And that was true also with Christmas. But now everybody’s using Christmas again. Remember this?”
Here, the president was referring to the imaginary “War on Christmas,” the left’s (wholly fictional) crusade against Christianity and winter merriment, which (supposedly) began in 2005, intensified under Barack Obama, and (ostensibly) only ended after Donald Trump came to power and removed Santa Claus from the CIA’s kill list.
Even by the standards of right-wing persecution fantasies, the “War on Christmas” was psychedelically paranoid. But it did at least have some loose connection to a genuinely widespread social phenomenon: In an effort to be inclusive to students of disparate faiths, some public schools do give the seasonal greeting “Happy Holidays” higher billing than “Merry Christmas.” And in the early aughts, concerns about the separation of church and state reportedly led a few scattered school systems to ban nonreligious symbols like Santa Claus or Christmas trees from their grounds.
But Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. It’s the American spin on the centuries-old tradition of harvest celebrations. True, some progressives and indigenous groups have sought to challenge and complicate its underlying mythology, which occludes the brutal, hierarchical, and ultimately genocidal relationship between English settlers and this continent’s native peoples. But there is no new, widespread movement to rename the holiday, which serves primarily as an occasion for Americans of all faiths and backgrounds to gather around a table with their families and eat the least appetizing of all our planet’s birds.
Even the Fox & Friends crew struggled to substantiate the president’s claim. The gang suggested that Trump may have been indirectly referencing the radical left’s call for Americans to forgo holiday travel — and celebrate Thanksgiving over Skype — so as to reduce their carbon footprints (a movement that is also essentially nonexistent). They also entertained the possibility that Trump was referencing a long-debunked rumor that Barack Obama tried to change the holiday’s name to “Celebrate Immigrants Day” by executive order. Finally, after establishing that the left’s latest assault on tradition did not actually exist, they proceeded to analyze why that assault troubled so many everyday Americans, noting that “the issue that a lot of people have with potentially changing that name is the fact that in that name we’re expressing gratitude.”
Anyhow, it’s clear that, this Thanksgiving, the conservative movement is thankful that aging white Americans are still more afraid of radical leftists forcing them to celebrate “Thanks But No Thanksgiving” than of deregulated industries poisoning their grandchildren.