Henry Ford, the famed industrialist and notorious anti-Semite, once pontificated that Jews were ruining Christmas.
“The whole record of the Jewish opposition to Christmas…shows the venom and directness of [their] attack,” Ford carped in an early 1920s work he titled The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.
The automaker went on to detail various localized Jewish “attacks” against the popular holiday.
“Christmas celebrations or carols in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Paul and New York met with strong Jewish opposition,” he claimed. “Local Council of Jewish Women of Baltimore petitions school board to prohibit Christmas exercises” and “[a]t request of a rabbi, three principals of Roxbury, Mass., public schools agree[d] to banish Christmas tree and omit all references to the season from their schools.”
So effective were these alleged Jewish actions against Christmas, Ford declared, that in one year “most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone’s Birth.”
It is striking how much Ford’s claims of Jewish efforts to undermine the celebration of Christmas nearly a century ago mirror modern Religious Right claims of a “war on Christmas.” While present-day fundamentalist zealots tend to blame atheists for what they believe is the gradual erosion of the religious aspects of Christmas, research shows that this “war” is not something that was cooked up by the Fox News Channel – though that is where the battles in this supposed conflict tend to play out today.
While it is not known exactly who fired the first shot in the war – or when – it is clear that far-right Christians have long used this phony conflict as an opportunity to demonize their enemies and force their religious beliefs on others.
When the Religious Right rants about the “war on Christmas” it is expressing fear that the holiday is becoming secularized, and no other single entity feeds far-right fantasies about this supposed “war” more than the Fox News Channel.
More: Bogus Battle