Written By: Anton Sawyer
This article is part of an ongoing series where I break down courses offered at PragerU and expose some of the misdirection they're peddling. Each course is readily available to everyone (the free stuff). I would love to sign up for their complete online courses, so if you would like to see me go in-depth to one of their official courses, then please “buy a coffee”. I will use those funds to “advance my education” through the “prestigious” University that is Prager.
Debunking Courses Offered At Prager University—Lesson 6: “Just Say ‘Merry Christmas’”
It’s that time of the year once again. The snow is falling, the eggnog is being consumed, and conservatives across America are putting on their war fatigues to take on the evil liberals attempting to have public executions of both Santa and Jesus at the floral department of every Walmart of this fruited plain. It’s Christmas once again.
I hate to start a piece with stats, but context as to America’s complex nature with the winter holiday season needs mentioning. In a 2021 poll done by Fairleigh Dickinson University, more Americans believe that there is a “war on Christmas” this holiday season than in years past, with nearly 4 in 10 (37%) Americans now saying that politicians are trying to remove the religious elements of the holiday season, up from 29% in 2013. According to the national survey from the FDU Poll, this increase is driven by Republicans, Trump supporters, and Hispanic Americans. It’s because of this conservative bent on those polling numbers that I focus my research efforts towards the prestigious conservative university, PragerU, and see what their take is on this War On Christmas, and offer my insights
So fire up the hot cocoa, push play on the video link found in the bibliography section, and join me as we take a “higher education” approach to this holiday.
To keep things clear, all statements made in the video will be in bold, and my responses will be in italics.
In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.
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“Just Say ‘Merry Christmas’” is hosted by none other than Dennis Prager himself!
The change from wishing fellow Americans “Merry Christmas” to wishing them “Happy Holidays” is a very significant development. Proponents of Happy Holidays argue it’s no big deal—proponents of Merry Christmas are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Though the significance of this developmental change will be addressed in a moment, so far I agree with him in this first sentiment. Though I personally don’t care if you say either of these holiday-based phrases, I do think it really is a “mountain out of a molehill” situation. If you are politicizing a phrase that is meant to bring cheer to your fellow man, that’s just trying to make a divisive issue out of one that doesn’t truly need to be there.
But the Happy Holidays advocates want it both ways. They dismiss opponents as hysterical; but at the same time, in addition to replacing Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays, they have relentlessly pushed to replace “Christmas vacation” with “winter vacation” and “Christmas party” with “Holiday party.”
This is all missing a huge amount of context. In this section, I’m not sure if the Prager is meaning these changes are being done at a federal or state level. For example, is he referring to the fact that privately-owned businesses in many locations have been required to change their verbiage because of local civil rights ordinances that enforce the removal of a specific faith in the phrasing of certain events? An article was written by Massachusetts attorney Lisa C. Johnson, Esq. in 2021 used various case examples (a primary one being EEOC vs. Belk, Inc) to show that, “While deciding how to wish people happy holidays comes down to personal choice, employers, government agencies, and teachers must be especially careful about how they represent, celebrate, and require participation in holidays to ensure they do not infringe on anyone's right to freedom of religion. That means holiday parties, public displays, school lessons, and more must all consider the law that protects the right to religious freedom.” This includes FROM religion as well.
So, then, which is it? Is all this elimination of the word “Christmas” important or not? The answer is obvious, it’s very important.
It’s only important to those who want to perpetuate a political non-starter in order to not only keep those who agree with you at maximum anger but also ensure that the “us versus them” mentality is at a full peak.
That’s why so much effort is devoted to substituting other words for Christmas. And these efforts have been extraordinarily successful. In place of the universal Merry Christmas of my youth, in recent decades I have been wished Happy Holidays by every waiter and waitress in every restaurant I have dined, by everyone who welcomes me at any business, by my flight attendants and pilots, and by just about everyone else. When I respond, “Thank you. Merry Christmas!” I often sense that I have actually created some tension.
If being so offended by the concept that you are only going to hear Happy Holidays EVERY SINGLE TIME you go to a restaurant is giving you this much emotional turmoil, maybe eat at home? Also, I’m sorry Dennis, but it sounds like you—and those who are this obsessed—may suffer from apophenia. Per Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist at Abilene Christian University in Texas, Michelle Overman, “Apophenia refers to the tendency to make connections between seemingly unrelated things.” She went on to explain an overview of what this condition is better than anyone I have ever read before. She states, “There is a children’s book called “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst that touches on [apophenia]. Alexander starts his day by waking up with gum in his hair and tripping over his skateboard. The rest of the day follows a series of events that makes it a ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.’ When a series of unfavorable events happen, it sometimes feels as though the world is against you or the universe is conspiring against you.” As a side note, a side effect to this condition was found to cause people to be more “receptive to pseudo-profound bullshit” per a 2018 European Journal of Personality study. In two studies, with a total of 297 participants, the researchers had college students read and rate a number of truly profound, mundane, and pseudo-profound statements. Those who scored higher on measures of apophenia tended to rate the pseudo-profound bullshit as more profound, while those who scored higher on measures of intelligence tended to give pseudo-profound bullshit lower profundity ratings.
Many of those I wish Merry Christmas are probably relieved to hear someone who feels free to utter the “C” word, but all the sensitivity training we’ve had to undergo creates cognitive dissonance. The opponents of Merry Christmas and other uses of the word Christmas know exactly what they’re doing. They’re disingenuous when they dismiss defenders of Merry Christmas as fabricating some “War on Christmas.” Of course, it’s a war on Christmas! Or, more precisely, a war on the religious nature of America.
We have to take these two subjects one at a time because of the verbiage Prager is using. It’s jumping between narratives and realities pretty quickly, so it’s imperative to dissect each section to his claims. Sensitivity training: where? In schools? At work? Specifics are needed here unless he means literally everywhere we turn—like in the movie “They Live.” If he sees sensitivity training being shoved down his throat in every facet of life, then Prager definitely suffers from apophenia.
The War on Christmas was indeed a fabrication brought about by Henry Ford and disseminated in the 1920s by both conservative and white supremacist newspapers of the day. Ford wrote, “Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated someone’s birth. People sometimes ask why 3,000,000 Jews can control the affairs of 100,000,000 Americans. In the same way, ten Jewish students can abolish the mention of Christmas and Easter out of schools containing 3,000 Christian pupils.”
Yes, the War on Christmas was indeed fabricated … out of Jewish hatred
Prager then ends on immediately jumping that the war on Christmas is a war on all religious-based ideals we hold as a nation. Completely reasonable.
The left in America, like the left in Europe, wants to create a thoroughly secular society. Not a secular government—which is a desirable goal, and which, in any event, has always been the case in America—but a secular society.
I know that there is a few years’ difference between this video and the video of theirs I had examined before called “Is America’s Government Secular?” but the two so completely contradict each other that I’m surprised they haven’t tried to reconcile them somehow. In a nutshell, the 2021 version of PragerU claims that the United States government has never been secular, and neither should it ever be.
Most people do not realize that the left believes in secularism as fervently as religious Jews and Christians believe in the Bible. That’s why Merry Christmas bothers secular activists. It’s a blatant reminder of just how religious America is, and always has been. So, here’s a prediction. Activists on the left will eventually seek to remove Christmas as a national holiday.
A misdirection that’s tried-and-true for the GOP: using the lack of knowledge as it pertains to the minutiae of our federal government to perpetuate a lie. It is almost impossible to remove a federal holiday. In a 2016 interview, UC Davis professor of law Carlton Larson explained some of the details that would go into removing a national holiday a reality. He explained that while anyone in the US can petition for the removal of a national holiday under freedom of speech, legally removing a holiday is a hard process. Congress would have to agree to remove the holiday and it would then have to be signed off by the president. "There would have to be real political pressure," Larson said. He added that there would be a lot of opposition by those who support the holiday including federal unions (who would be losing a paid holiday), and because of this change, federal employees would work one less day and costs would likely have to be looked at as well.
So, this means that the unions the Republicans hate so much are, in reality, a key component to preventing liberals from removing Christmas as a national holiday.
Now, the left doesn’t announce that its agenda is to thoroughly secularize American and European societies. Instead, they offer the inclusiveness argument: that Merry Christmas or Christmas Party or Christmas vacation is not “inclusive.”
As I mentioned above, there’s a legal element to this depending on the local or federal laws that have to be adhered to. If you have a problem with so many businesses being forced to stop saying phrases you enjoy, then the systemic fix would be to look at the laws that are allowing these societal elements to proliferate, and then try to change them through buying off elected leaders—the “American Way.”
This inclusive argument plays on Americans’ highly developed sense of decency. But the argument is preposterous. Who, exactly, is being excluded when one wishes someone Merry Christmas? Non-Christians? I’m a non-Christian, I’m a Jew. Christmas is not a religious holy day for me. But I’m an American, and Christmas is a national holiday in my country. It is, therefore, my holiday—though not my holy day—as much as it is for my fellow Americans who are Christians. That’s why it’s not surprising that it was an American Jew, Irving Berlin, who wrote “White Christmas,” one of America’s most popular Christmas songs. In fact, according to a Jewish musician writing in the New York Times, “Almost all the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews.” Apparently, all these American Jews felt quite included by Christmas!
This entire argument by Prager is wholly subjective. He assumes that if you say Merry Christmas, every single person who is not a Christian is going to be offended and feels excluded at the remark—instead of accepting that it’s just another phrase to well-wish someone during a specific time of year. It’s hyperbolic and fits with the overall narrative, though.
I do have to admit that I wasn’t aware of Dennis Prager’s own religious beliefs before delving into this video. It seems counterintuitive to me that a man who is of such religious leanings as Dennis Prager would throw his support behind the war on Christmas, given that it was born out of racism towards his own race. Also, the amount of effort he puts into leaning on the number of Jewish musicians writing Christmas music leads me to believe that he has no idea where the War on Christmas comes from. I guess that level of ignorance is only done by “real Americans” as well?
By not wishing me a Merry Christmas, you are not being inclusive. You are excluding me from one of my nation’s national holidays. But even if Christmas were not a national holiday, I would want pilots to wish their passengers Merry Christmas, companies to have Christmas parties, and schools to continue to have Christmas vacations. Just because I don’t personally celebrate Christmas, why would I want to drop the word Christmas when the holiday is celebrated by 90% of my fellow Americans? It borders on the misanthropic, not to mention the mean-spirited, to want to deny nearly all of your fellow citizens the joy of having Christmas parties or being wished a Merry Christmas. The vast majority of Americans who celebrate Christmas, and who treat non-Christians so well, deserve better. So please, say Merry Christmas and Christmas party and Christmas vacation. If you don’t, you’re not “inclusive,” you’re hurtful. I’m Dennis Prager—Credits out.
This is all conjecture and hyperbole. It’s designed to perpetuate the “us versus them” mentality. One thing that was interesting during this end section was in how Prager keeps giving himself a good-guy badge by telling you that he is just as tolerant (maybe even more so) than his liberal counterparts by upholding the traditions held by 90% of the country—even though it means nothing to him on a spiritual level. What a guy! Coincidentally, as he was telling us these things, the video in the background was showing a “woke” family beating the hell out of Santa Claus in their front room.
I am often gobsmacked at how opinionated Dennis Prager (and his ilk) are, with how little it appears they actually know. When you get down to brass tacks and look at Prager’s assertions, they all come from a place of non-actionable reality, speculation, and ignorance to the ways the world really works. If you are offended about the way certain municipalities force the conduct of their business, including nationwide, look at the laws that are causing the source of your consternation and do what you can to change them. Merely bitching and using misdirection and divisionary tactics aren’t going to work at genuinely fixing anything.
Oh wait, I’m sorry. I forgot who I was writing about. This is all kind of the point, isn’t it?
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