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War on Christmas

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  • Fox’s “War On Christmas” Prompts Jewish Family To Fear “Pizzagate”-Style Response

    Fox And Breitbart Focused Attention On Parents Who Expressed Concerns About Elementary School Christmas Play

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Pennsylvania news outlets are reporting that a Jewish family fled Lancaster County in fear after stories from Fox News and Breitbart.com suggested they could be partially to blame for the cancellation of an elementary school Christmas play. The family cited comments from Breitbart readers about doxing the family (“It would be nice if we had the addresses”) for their decision to flee, saying they feared another “pizza incident,” referencing a situation in which a man opened fire in a Washington, D.C., pizzeria after reading fake news stories.

    LancasterOnline.com reported in a December 22 article:

    A Hempfield elementary school is under fire for ending its longstanding production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and a Jewish family has fled the county in fear because it’s being blamed for the cancellation. The unfolding controversy at Centerville Elementary School played out this week in national conservative media outlets including FOX News and Breitbart News Network, which portray the school’s move as part of a “war on Christmas.” The school, however, has said it put an end to the play this year because it took 15 to 20 hours of classroom time to produce.

    [...]

    The fifth-grader’s parents, who spoke to LNP on the condition that they not be named, say they didn’t complain about the play or request that it be canceled, but just asked in September if their child could be excused from the play, and were told yes. Since the school announced the cancellation in November, however, they say the child has been harassed by classmates. Principal Tom Kramer, who is in his first year at the school, posted a letter on the school website on Dec. 15 confronting rumors “that one or two families influenced this decision” to cancel the play. “That’s just not true,” he wrote.

    [...]

    Since the Fox and Breitbart stories, a spokeswoman for the school district said, the school has received at least 200 emails and phone calls either supporting or objecting to the decision or asking for additional information. The Jewish student’s parents say some of the reactions to the stories frightened them. After seeing reader comments like “It would be nice if we had the addresses of those concerned citizens and, I bet, this info is known to people living in the area” on the Breitbart story, the parents pulled their child out of school and headed out of the area for a bit. “There’s no way we’re going to take a chance after the pizza incident,” they said, referencing the man who fired an assault rifle in a Washington D.C area pizzeria after reading a fake-news story that said Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of there.

    Both Fox & Friends Sunday and Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes covered the story, as did Breitbart, pushing local parents’ claims that the school canceled the play because of a Jewish student’s parents complaining about the line “God bless us, everyone.” Fox News has done hundreds of stories highlighting a so-called “War on Christmas” going back at least 12 years, covering its invented narrative to such a ludicrous extent that some Fox hosts have actually spent more time on the topic than on, say, veterans or actual wars. Fox has pushed the “War on Christmas” narrative so much, for so long, that according to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Fox may have changed Americans’ preferences for the holiday greetings they prefer to hear.

    The climate Fox has created with its “War on Christmas” has turned frightful, rather than delightful. Thanks to the attention it received from right-wing media outlets, the Pennsylvania family feared for its safety. The story had zero national news value, yet Fox pushed the narrative to continue its “War on Christmas” drivel. Fox and other conservative outlets should use this incident to reflect on the repercussions of their culture war next time they want to complain about Starbucks cups. But it doesn’t show signs of stopping.

    UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a press release on December 22 stating that the organization spoke to the family who reportedly fled and they clarified that their departure was in fact a planned vacation. The headline for this piece has been clarified to reflect this new information.

  • Fox Turns To Chuck Norris, Ronald Reagan To Invent Latest Attack On Christmas

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    In an effort to push Fox News' favorite narrative that Christmas is under attack, the network turned to former television star Chuck Norris and former President Ronald Reagan as ammunition for its latest attempt to attack President Obama by casting doubt on his dedication to Christian values and wrongly suggesting he has not spoken publicly about the religious foundations of the Christmas holiday season.

    On the November 19 edition of Fox & Friends, hosts read excerpts from a "fiery" online op-ed penned by Chuck Norris, the former star of CBS' Walker: Texas Ranger, echoing Norris' outrage that President Obama has not made public comments on the subject of a Maryland school district's decision to end reference to Christian and Jewish holidays on the schools' vacation calendars rather than include additional vacation days for the observation of Muslim holidays.

    "We haven't even hit Thanksgiving, and already the war on Christmas is underway," wrote Norris. Claiming that President Obama has deviated from "the America our Founding Fathers created," his column expressed nostalgia for a time when Republican President Ronald Reagan spoke freely about Christian values during a Christmas speech in 1981:

    Let us never forget that there was once a time in the U.S. when people and even presidents weren't afraid to stand for traditional values and encourage others to do the same.

    Case in point, President Ronald Reagan, in his 1981 Christmas address, televised and on the radio from the Oval Office for the entire nation and world to hear, said: "At this special time of year, we all renew our sense of wonder in recalling the story of the first Christmas in Bethlehem, nearly 2,000 years ago. Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great and good philosopher and teacher. Others of us believe in the divinity of the child born in Bethlehem, that he was and is the promised Prince of Peace. ... Like the shepherds and wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times, our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God's help, we've never lost our way. ... So let this holiday season be for us a time of rededication. ... Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love (of) Jesus. ... Christmas means so much because of one special child."

    The hosts of Fox & Friends parroted Norris' column saying "Chuck Norris' point was, remember the time when American presidents weren't afraid to talk about traditional values, as Ronald Reagan did back in 1981," and used the opportunity to highlight a clip of Reagan's speech.  

    But Norris and Fox's nostalgia omitted the current president's frequent expressions of his Christian faith. Earlier in 2014, President Obama's Easter address contained the following comments about the suffering of Jesus Christ: 

    OBAMA: For me, and for countless other Christians, Holy Week and Easter are times for reflection and renewal.  We remember the grace of an awesome God, who loves us so deeply that He gave us his only Son, so that we might live through Him.  We recall all that Jesus endured for us - the scorn of the crowds, the agony of the cross - all so that we might be forgiven our sins and granted everlasting life.  And we recommit ourselves to following His example, to love and serve one another, particularly "the least of these" among us, just as He loves every one of us.