If you live in America, you know that around the holidays, conservative Christians, bigots, blatant Islamophobes, and generally, white people who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, find it the perfect time to bitch and moan about the “war on Christmas,” the latest Starbucks cup controversy, and progressive movements and politicians.
‘Tis the season of intolerance!
You may have the misfortune of being born or marrying into a family where relatives decide to use the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s gatherings as an opportunity to unabashedly express their ignorance of other cultures and religions. You may dread Thanksgiving because you know that you’re going to encounter some disturbing racist jokes, proud support for Trump, and the demonization of the black men and women who have been taking a knee during the national anthem at sporting events. Holidays should be a time of celebration and peace, but for some people, they mark a time of extreme emotional labor and stress. Interacting with family members (or even peers and coworkers) who hold vile, hateful beliefs and express these opinions at every opportunity is exhausting.
Never fear. The following is a list of ass-backward arguments and individuals you may encounter with suggestions for strong rebuttals. If you don’t feel comfortable sending this handy guide directly to your relatives, feel free to like or share it on social media, in the hopes that your friends and family who need a lesson in history will read it and learn something.
‘Tis the season for being passive-aggressive!
1. The “war on Christmas”
This is an insidious, false argument that is often spewed by hateful white people who refuse to believe that, gasp, America is not a Christian nation, and furthermore, being inclusive toward people of all religions in no way demonizes an originally pagan holiday. Additionally, the winter months include celebrations sacred to followers of multiple faiths, including Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims.
Finally, since America has always regarded whiteness and white customs as superior and “the norm,” Christmas is already abundantly represented in public and private spheres. Examples: Christmas music playing in every store, an infinite amount of Christmas-themed movies and music, advertisements for all different products depicting Christmas.
2. The staunch Trump supporter
This person will take advantage of the family being congregated in one place to express his/her admiration for and support of Trump. This topic may arise on the heels of the first point since Trump claimed that he wants to end the “war on Christmas.” It’s best to point out that hate crimes in the U.S. have risen in the past year, healthcare is almost in shambles, the GOP’s proposed tax plan is devastating, we’re still ignoring Puerto Rico, oh and the Keystone Pipeline, which Trump approved, is leaking.
2.A. Fake news!
Your terribly misinformed family member will probably use that phrase in an attempt to shut down your counter-arguments. It is a clear sign of tyranny when a politician turns his or her country’s citizens against news outlets. It’s a way to create an “us vs. them” mentality and it fuels hate and ignorance.
3. The unapologetic racist
It’s not “cute” when grandpa or old Uncle Joe makes racist jokes, and it’s not cool when your aunt insists that “all lives matter.” Shut these comments down. Making fun of someone because of their skin color, accent, or religion is never acceptable. It’s simply not funny and it fuels white supremacy. Asking pointed questions, such as, “Why is that funny to you?” or, “What’s funny about oppression?” can also effectively get your point across.
4. “(Insert any social justice movement here) is for stupid liberals and entitled brats”
No, they are actually for historically marginalized and oppressed groups of people who want representation, validation, human rights, political and societal change, stronger communities, and equality. Black Lives Matter isn’t a hate group, Kathy. The DREAMers who fear being kicked out of the only country they’ve ever known have a legal right to be here, Kevin. Muslims are targets of terrorist attacks far more often than non-Muslims, Grandma.
Much strength and power to you if you know that this holiday season, you will inevitably end up arguing with family members about white privilege, police brutality, the current political climate, homophobia, sexual assault, or any number of equally pressing social issues that white people love to ignore or justify.
It may make us uncomfortable, but we must hold loved ones accountable when they fuel negative stereotypes and perpetuate damning rhetoric.