Friday, December 10, 2021

Tucker Carlson's Treemas

In the opening lyrics of Don McLean's American Pie, "a long, long time ago," shortly after Thanksgiving, a fellow freshman student told us in the social hall of a dormitory "Tree is the reason for the season."

Actually, he said "Jesus is the reason for the season."  But Tucker Carlson, commenting upon the Christmas tree fire outside of Fox News headquarters, begs to differ:

Carlson's first clue should have been the calendar, upon which December 25 is noted as "Christmas Day" rather than "Treemas Day." However, it appears that he was twisting the meaning of Christmas and trivializing its importance in order to make a different political point. He continued

It's an assault on religious observance. By current standards, destroying someone's religious symbol would be a hate crime. That's a category much loved and meticulously chronicled by the Biden Justice Department. The D.O.J. can tell you precisely how many Korans were burned last year in the United States but they don't keep track of Christmas tree. Why is that?

Well, because they could care less. Christopher Ray isn't dispatching a team of FBI agents to get to the bottom of Christmas arson . Merrick Garland is not going to issue a press release about it.

"By current standards," Carlson maintained, "destroying someone's religious symbol would be a hate crime." If the Christmas tree were a religious symbol rather than a decoration, it might be. But it's in public places, appears in holiday parades, and is increasingly wielded as a tool in ginning up retail sales.

Even then it might not be a hate crime.  Under federal law, a hate crime occurs when someone "willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person...." 

Under New York State law, a hate crime is an offense committed at least in part "because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct." 

Forty-nine-year-old Craig Tamanaha was arrested, arraigned, and released. He is homelesss and had been arrested in the past for drug charge(s) and indecent exposure.  Nothing has been reported of his political views, religious views, or whatever may have motivated the arson. The implication that the fire constituted a hate crime is premature at best.

Carlson targeted the concept of hate crimes by disguising it as a concern about the religious faith of the vast majority of his fans. He charges "torching Christmas trees is an attack on Christianity" and upon "a tradition that's hundreds of years old."

Yet, Christianity- as he intellectually is aware- is not hundreds of years old but thousands of years old. Except as used as a tactic, Christianity is of little concern to Carlson, who refers to a tree "a symbol of a specific culture." It's the tree as a symbol of a culture, increasingly marked by materialism and conspicuous consumption, that impels him. 

Tucker Carlson condemns the burning of a Christmas pine tree because the Christian tradition is, he suggests, "hundreds of years old."  For him, and for those who will continue to follow him faithfully after this, trees are indeed the reason for the season.


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