The first confirmed fatality in the War on Christmas is “words with specific meanings.”
At just after midnight Wednesday morning, the 50-foot tall Christmas tree outside of Fox News headquarters in Manhattan was set ablaze in what New York Police Department officials said they believe is a case of arson.
While certainly alarming in a general “bad when there are huge fires in the middle of a crowded metropolis” sort of way, the blaze — believed by police to have been set by an unhoused person with a history of psychotropic drug use — is not, in and of itself, all that significant. It’s not good, of course, but given the evidence pointing toward mental illness as a likely cause, it hardly merits the sort of hysterical pearl-clutching offered from amateur hair model Meghan McCain — who, incidentally, doesn’t actually live in New York.
But, okay, fine considering who the tree belongs to in the first place, a measure of caricatured victim-posturing is to be expected. These are, after all, the same people who have been pushing the non-existent “War on Christmas” for years now. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that the sofa-affixed haircuts of Fox & Friends would get real melodramatic.
But even knowing it’s coming couldn’t have prepared me for just how weird things were going to get Wednesday morning.
Here is me, listening along, as Earhardt runs down her initially generic list of why the Fox News Christmas Tree matters:
It's a tree that unites us. (Is it?) It brings us together. (I ... I guess?) It's about the Christmas spirit. (Okay, yes.) It is about the holiday season. (Ehhhh ... ) It's about Jesus. (Ehhhh ... ) It's about Hanukkah. (Wait, what?) It is about everything that we stand for as a country. (Hm.)
Let me say that, as a lifelong Hanukkah-celebrator, I am a huge fan of Christmas trees. I think they’re beautiful, and I love that my friends’ families have traditions about decorating their trees that stretch back generations. What I know for an absolute damn 100% certain fact, however, is that Christmas trees are not about Hanukkah. That’s not a thing. And no, I’m not talking about “Hanukkah bushes,” which are just appropriative decorations with no real significance beyond “looks nice.” I’m talking about 50-foot-tall “10,000 glass ornaments, 100,000 lights [...] took over 21 hours to assemble” public assertions of this country’s place as a deeply Christian nation erected outside the number one purveyor of American Christian conservatism. The only way this has anything to do with Hanukkah is if we got eight more trees (one slightly taller than the other) and lit them on fire, too.
But through her comments, Earhardt accidentally made a better, wholly inadvertent point about the pervasive ubiquity of Christianity in the American public sphere. To Earhardt, as well as the overwhelming majority of her colleagues and viewers, an overtly Christian spectacle really is everything they stand for as a country. With that in mind, surely it would be in Earhardt’s publicly vaulted spirit of Christmas unity for Fox News to not to press charges against the 49-year-old unhoused man now facing criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and arson charges.