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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Opinion

It’s the most polarized time of the year


war on christmas is coming

People yelling about the war on Christmas has become almost as traditional as the holiday itself. | Illustration by Kevin Lemus/The Cougar

Every year as the holiday season approaches, conservative pundits and media outlets begin scrambling for any and every story they can find to prove that Christians are being persecuted and the war on Christmas is raging on.

This year it started with Starbucks deciding to simplify their holiday cup by removing the winter-themed patterns on the design. This caused an outrage among evangelicals, and even presidential candidate Donald Trump said “maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”

Persecution isn’t the problem here. It’s polarization.

The war on Christmas started in the early 2000s when conservative news reporters like Bill O’Reilly started with one simple question: “Why does no one say ‘merry Christmas’ anymore?” Then everything escalated again when schools and private businesses began saying “happy holidays” instead of the normal Christmas greeting.

But for some reason, simply using a more broad expression to include holiday celebrations other than Christmas translates to religious persecution.

Then, in 2005, Fox News radio host John Gibson even wrote a book titled “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse than You Thought.”

It’s phrase words like war on Christmas that make this issue so inherently divisive and polarizing. There has been a growing trend of creating phrases for almost the sole purpose of pitting one side against the other. Republicans were the ones who invented words like “Obamacare” and “war on terror” and use the word “liberal” as an insult.

It’s understandable for media outlets to want more views and bigger ratings, but at what cost?

It has become a standard in the media to rile up the base of whatever political leanings for the sake of higher viewership.

But this is toxic to our society. The war on Christmas fiasco is simply a cog in the machine that is American media distorting the political climate of the entire country for the sake of viewership.

Media outlets like Fox News are just recycling techniques introduced by Edward Bernays back in the early 20th century. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, and was an expert in the art of public manipulation. He understood how to utilize mechanisms that can manipulate public perception, and outlined how to do this in his book “Propaganda.”

His techniques can be seen during the Communism scare of the 1950s, and now we see it in the current uprising of Islamophobia today.

Manipulating the public to gain viewership is simply not ethical. The public needs to begin realizing truths from non-truths or society will only continue to be divided on mundane issues like saying “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”

There’s more important stuff to worry about.

 

Opinion editor Anthony Torres is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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