The war on Christmas is back, and this time it’s for real.
As real as the images of busloads of entirely-unprepared-for-winter asylum seekers being unceremoniously dumped on a frigid Christmas Eve night in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ U.S. Naval Observatory residence. Yes, on Christmas Eve, with nary a manger in sight.
As real as the fact that the migrants — most of them from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Cuba — were dropped there without anyone informing the authorities in Washington. In fact, the buses were reportedly headed to New York, but historically treacherous weather conditions prevented Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s caravan from getting that far. And so the buses made an unscripted stop in Washington. Take that in for a minute. The weather was too dangerous for buses, but not, in Abbott’s view, for unwinterized migrants.
As real as the fact that some of the 100-plus asylum-seekers, a group that included children, could have died of exposure without help, which, fortunately, was provided by the volunteer Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, working on a tip from a non-governmental organization operating on the Texas-Mexico border.
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As real as the fact that this was a stunt — using actual human beings as political props — in the modern not-exactly-Christian tradition of treating the stranger as you would never hope to be treated yourself. Though it was Abbott’s stunt, it took his office days to acknowledge that simple, if inexcusable, fact.
As unreal as the statement an Abbott spokesperson finally offered in answering criticism from the White House: “The White House is full of a bunch of hypocrites, led by the Hypocrite-in-Chief … Instead of their hypocritical complaints about Texas providing much-needed relief to our overrun and overwhelmed border communities, President Biden and Border Czar Harris need to step up and do their jobs to secure the border — something they continue failing to do.”
If you read the statement closely, it seems Abbott’s team is saying that because border communities are, in fact, overwhelmed, that means it’s OK to put the safety of desperate migrants at risk. In other words, that’s just life, if not quite pro-life.
The purpose of Abbott’s dangerous stunt was presumably to try to one-up Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his infamous Martha’s Vineyard migrant dump — Abbott and DeSantis are both considering running for president — in their competition to see which possible Trump successor can be more cruel in the treatment of the least of us in order to both own the libs and to impress Trump’s base. As The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer once famously wrote of Trump on the matter of his appeal to his supporters, cruelty is the point.
The war is on, and it’s hard not to think, at this point, that the WWJD question has rarely been left so deliberately unanswered.
Or as Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro tweeted, “Worthless @GovAbbott dropping off people with no money and no means on Christmas Eve in 15 degree weather near the VP’s residence. How Christian of you, Greg Abbott. Being a heartless POS isn’t going to make you the next Republican President.”
Or as Dave Barry wrote of DeSantis in his hilarious annual year in review, “Ron DeSantis, who we remind you is governor of Florida, uses Florida state funds to charter two planes in Texas, which is not part of Florida, and has them transport a group of migrants from Venezuela, which is also not part of Florida, to Martha’s Vineyard, yet another place that is not part of Florida. This would be a hilarious gubernatorial prank if not for the fact that these are actual human beings, as opposed to Muppets to be deployed in a cynical game of Migrant Whack-a-Mole.”
This war on the spirit of Christmas — and I can’t wait for Abbott and DeSantis to meet up with The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come — puts to shame the back-in-the-day, phony-baloney war on Christmas, the one brought to us in large part by Rush Limbaugh and some of more odious Fox News anchors, whose basic premise was that some Americans, and also some American businesses, were replacing, or maybe alternating, “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays,” thereby attacking Christmas.
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It was a pre-woke-era attack on wokeness — and this particular wokeness involved some businesses saying “Happy Holidays” as a safe, non-exclusive way to to include all Christmas/holiday shoppers — which, as it turned out, passed the capitalist test that tells us Christians and those who practice other religions and those who are not religious at all often spend large amounts of money in the, uh, holiday season.
Since it is literally impossible not to be inundated with all that is commercialized Christmas, a holiday season which now begins either the day after Thanksgiving or the day after Halloween, the whole war-on-Christmas business kind of faded away.
But look at what we’re left with. The original war on Christmas was an unserious attempt to create a new front in the culture wars. But the casual, and apparently acceptable to many, cruelty to migrants is deadly serious. And the only thing we can be sure of is that, in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, it will only get worse.
As Tiny Tim did not say in “A Christmas Carol,” but might well say today, “God help us, every one.”
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