Donald Trump was briefly on the receiving end of the so-called “War of Christmas” debate over the weekend when some of his more radical supporters railed over his and his family's Hanukkah greetings.
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During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to bring back “Merry Christmas” to the public space and criticized the more inclusive “Happy Holidays” greeting that has become popular in recent decades. Unsurprisingly, some of his supporters were disappointed when the president-elect tweeted “Happy Hannukah” on Christmas Eve, well ahead of releasing his Christmas greetings, and in turn unleashed a stream of anti-Semitic tweets at Trump and his family.
“Did you move to Israel already? Or only forgot to wish Merry Christmas”? wondered one supporter, clearly not appreciating the menorah picture that Trump tweeted. “Why are you afraid to say Merry Christmas?", asked another. From there, the posts quickly turned anti-Semitic, as first reported by Rawstory. One Trump supporter called on the president-elect not to "pander to the Jews” as “White genocide was caused by them”, while another noted that Trump's daughter is Jewish, and accused Trump of handing Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner "the Keys to the Kingdom so he can play golf.” "Hitler was right," was one's succinct response.
The president-elect tweeted “Merry Christmas” the next day, but his followers have already moved on to heckle other Trump family members, like his son, Donald Trump Jr., who also tweeted Hanukkah greetings. “I don't get it are y'all Jewish now? Or can you not say Merry Christmas!”, wrote one of the supporters who referred to himself as a “deplorable”, while others accused the Trump family of betraying the White race. A picture of a Ku Klux Klan rally, with the caption “treason greetings from the Trump family”, was also circulated online. Meanwhile, responses to Ivanka Trump’s tweet of a photo of her family lighting Hanukkah candles remained overwhelmingly positive. Trump supporters, many of them with the same “deplorable” moniker, wished her Merry Christmas and even happy Hanukkah in return.
The “War on Christmas” entered the political discourse in the United states in 2005, with the appearance of the book “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought” by radio host John Gibson. The book was later promoted by Fox news commentator Bill O’Reily, according to the New York Times, and from then on became a recurrent theme on the holiday season.
Trump himself has alluded to the “War on Christmas” several times on the campaign trail. In January, he famously complained that Christmas greetings are disappearing from the public spaces in the United States. "You go into a department store. When was the last time you saw 'Merry Christmas'? You don't see it anymore. They want to be politically correct”, he said at a rally in Virginia.
Trump addressed the matter again on his victory tour, saying a few weeks ago that his election was a win for those who are concerned that Christmas greetings were disappearing. “When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas”’ he told his supporters in Wisconsin.