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There Is No “War On Christmas,” Unless You Count The Battle For Christian Supremacy

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The Real War is Against Non-Christians

It’s finally (finally!) December and the terribleness that is 2016 is nearly over — but not quite yet. Across the country, folks are pulling their boxes of Christmas decorations out of the basement or the attic, untangling string lights and swearing to themselves they aren’t going to go overboard on the cookies this year. 

Well, most folks are. The rest of us are just sitting here enjoying the twinkling lights and hoping these next few weeks pass pretty quickly.

Christmas isn’t my holiday. I’m very much not a Christian (I’m a decently observant Jew), and aside from a severe jealousy of Christmas lights when I was a kid, I’ve never really been drawn to the holiday. I’ve never really wanted a tree in my house and I’ve never really felt left out. Dec. 25 is just another day for me.

It doesn’t bother me in the slightest — I’m not one of those folks who gets sick of being bombarded by it day in and day out like some of my friends, though I certainly understand their frustrations. 

To be honest, I kind of like how everyone seems to get a little bit nicer this time of year, and not all of the music is bad. “All I Want for Christmas is You” is one of the greatest songs of all time, and more than a few Jewish folks are responsible for the older classics. But acknowledging and accepting that I live in a majority Christian society doesn’t mean I define this as the Christmas season, or that I feel like I’m missing something, or that I care in the slightest whether someone says, “Merry Christmas” or not.

That really pisses some folks off, like America’s least favorite former Congressman, Joe Walsh (pictured): 

For the record, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and other non-Christians don’t typically celebrate Christmas. What makes Joe’s tweet art, though, is what he said just a few days earlier: 

Ironically, Joe’s right. There’s no guaranteed protection from being offended, but wow, he’s really offended. But my personal favorite came just last night: 

Aside from being factually incorrect, it’s just absurd. If we take away Christmas at this time of year, you know what we have? Another day, just like any other. Dec. 25 would still exist. No catastrophe would take its place and no one would disappear from the Earth because of it. 

(I suppose I shouldn’t go further without acknowledging the other December holidays, but let’s make something clear: Hanukkah is NOT the Jewish Christmas. That it falls around the same time as Christmas is a fluke. Hanukkah was established before Christmas was on the scene and it has absolutely nothing to do with peace and love and goodwill toward all. In fact, if anyone tells you that Hanukkah is about peace and love and goodwill they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Hanukkah celebrates a bloody insurgency against an oppressive, fascist regime in defense of religious freedom. It’s also incredibly low-ranking in the hierarchy of Jewish holidays.) 

Joe Walsh and his friends aren’t fighting a “War on Christmas.” They’re fighting for Christian supremacy. Just like everyone else who publicly decries the lack of enthusiasm about Christmas, Joe Walsh is a Christian supremacist. Joe Walsh hates real religious freedom. Joe hates that there are other religions and he hates that folks are passionate about beliefs he hasn’t personally approved. 

If folks were truly secure in their religious beliefs we’d never, ever hear the phrase “War on Christmas.” If they truly cared about observing their holiday the best way they know how it wouldn’t matter what their neighbors or anyone else did this time of year. 

If you happen to see me and wish me “Merry Christmas,” more times than not I’ll just smile politely and say, “You, too.” I’ll do the same exact thing if you wish me, “Happy holidays,” “Happy Hanukkah,” or any other seasonal greeting, because unlike Joe Walsh, my faith doesn’t depend on the validation of strangers.

Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBTQ activist and writer. He’s never really been interested in joining the War on Christmas but is strongly considering it now just to annoy Joe Walsh. His column appears here weekly. Follow him on Twitter: @rjmedwed

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Virginia School Districts Furious After Youngkin Flip Flops on Promise to Allow Local Boards to Decide Mask Mandates

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For months Virginia’s incoming Republican governor has been promising he would neither mandate masks in schools nor ban school districts from requiring them.

“Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) will not outlaw local COVID-19 mandates when he takes office in January,” reported the far right wing website Daily Wire back in November.

Local ABC affiliate 8 News, also in November reported, “Youngkin won’t try to block local mask, vaccine mandates like other Republican governors.”

Glenn Youngkin was sworn into office on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

Business Insider reports that on Saturday, after Youngkin was sworn into office, he “signed an executive action that banned schools from requiring that students wear masks to stem the spread of COVID-19, instead allowing parents to decide when their children wear masks during the school day.”

Youngkin’s first act as governor was to sign eleven executive orders. Among them: effectively banning any mask mandates in schools across the state, by allowing parents to opt-out for any reason or no reason.

In other words: flip-flopping on his promise.

Youngkin is using his Lt. Governor to threaten angry school districts. Fox News’ John Roberts:

Pundit and political analyst Bill Scher:

Youngkin made a big deal over the weekend claiming schools have to “listen to parents” and if they oppose his mask ban they aren’t listening to parents.

Gov. Youngkin is the one not listening.

In poll after poll after poll after poll Virginia parents make clear they support mask mandates in schools, and Virginians overall support mask mandates, period.

 

 

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Top Democrats Renew Call to End Anti-Gay Blood Ban as Red Cross Announces First-Ever National Shortage Crisis

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Last week the Red Cross issued its first-ever warning of a blood shortage so dire it is calling it a “national crisis.” In response 22 top Democratic Senators signed a letter urging the FDA to once and for all end the ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.

The nearly four-decade old ban was instituted during the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis. In 2015 the FDA reduced the complete and total ban to one where gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men could donate blood if they had abstained from sexual activity for one year. In 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic raged, threatening blood shortages, the FDA moved to a three-month prohibition.

“If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed,” warns the Red Cross, citing a 34 percent drop in supply, CBS News reports.

“Any policy that continues to categorically single out the LGBTQ+ community is discriminatory and wrong,” the group of 22 top Democrats, led by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), say in their letter. “Given advances in blood screening and safety technology, a time-based policy for gay and bisexual men is not scientifically sound, continues to effectively exclude an entire group of people, and does not meet the urgent demands of the moment.”

Blood Shortage MSM Donor Deferral Letter FDA HHS Jan 2022 Final by David Badash on Scribd

 

Image by ec-jpr via Flickr and a CC license

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‘Unprecedented’: Trump Tried to ‘Exert Extreme Partisan Influence Over the Census Bureau’ Docs Reveal

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The Trump administration tried to exert tremendous influence over the 2020 Census, which is now being used in a nationwide redistricting program, often handing Republicans even stronger gerrymandered congressional districts and in some cases attempting to dissolve districts of Democratic members of Congress, while eliminating some majority-Black districts.

Then-President Donald Trump was directly and possibly “illegally” involved, as The Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School’s nonprofit public policy institute, reports. The Trump administration also worked directly with an anti-immigrant group that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of nativist hate groups, a “think tank” devoted to anti-immigration efforts, and with an individual known for “promoting voter suppression efforts.”

“The Trump administration attempted to exert extreme partisan influence over the Census Bureau,” The Brennan Center reveals . It filed multiple Freedom of Information requests with at least ten federal agencies and was forced to sue the Trump administration when it unlawfully refused to produce the requested documents.

The Brennan Center adds that “career Bureau officials pushed back at those attempts. An email among senior officials at the Census Bureau from September 14, 2020, discusses the Commerce Department’s ‘unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented.'”

“Other records suggest that the Commerce Department planned to have Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross [photo, above] make personal calls to Republican state governors to urge them to provide state administrative records to the Census Bureau to ‘enhance the frame from which citizenship status is determined.’ (The Brennan Center did not uncover evidence that Commerce planned to make similar calls to Democratic governors.)”

Citing a “a complete lack of public transparency,” The Brennan Center reports “President Trump issued a memo in July 2020 stating that he would illegally attempt to remove undocumented populations from the apportionment count due at the end of December 2020.”

The Trump administration collected or attempted to collect an unprecedented amount of personal data targeting usesrs of welfare programs from dozens of states: “28 states had entered into agreements to share Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) records with the Bureau, 21 to share Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) records, 30 to share Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) records, and three to share driver’s license data.”

Our FOIA records show Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, emailing directly with Secretary Ross in December 2019. The Center for Immigration Studies is an organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigrant hate group that “has a decades-long history of circulating racist writers, while also associating with white nationalists.” The email also refers to a call from Secretary Ross.

The Center for Immigration Studies was founded by eugenicist and white nationalist John Tanton.

“Commerce Department employees were also engaging with the anti-immigrant Heritage Foundation,” The Brennan Center adds. “An email chain shows a Commerce Department official putting political appointee Nathaniel Cogley into direct contact with Heritage’s Hans Von Spakovsky, an individual the Brennan Center has previously flagged for his extensive background promoting voter suppression efforts.”

 

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