MSNBC's Melber: 'War on Christmas' Concerns Are Either 'Ignorant' or Anti-Semitic

On Tuesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, substitute host Ari Melber suggested that conservatives who are concerned about there being a "war on Christmas" are either motivated by "ignorance" or by anti-Semitism as he fretted over President Donald Trump speaking on the subject.

Returning from a commercial break, after a clip of Trump from 2015 in which the then-candidate promised to use the words "Merry Christmas" more if he were President, host Melber began complaining that Trump has a history of "parroting someone else's slogan," and then noted that "Make America Great Again" and "Drain the swamp" had been used by other politicians from the past.

The MSNBC host then tried to link accusations of there being a 'war on Christmas" to anti-Semitic sentiments as he recalled:

And claims of a "war on Christmas" have been ricocheting around Fox News for many years, but Fox is just one more stop in a long chain of custody that gets uglier the farther back you go because the first rumblings about a "war on Christmas" stem back to the fringe John Birch Society in anti-Semitic pamphlets in the 1920s called "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem."

He soon added: "The nicest thing you can hope for with today's 'war on Christmas' crowd is that they are ignorant of the dark road they have wandered down."

After reading a tweet from Trump in which the President claimed credit for more usage of the phrase "Merry Christmas," the MSNBC host tied in Fox News, and brought up "anti-Semitic hate," and again suggested that conservatives are at best "ignorant" as he continued:

MELBER: Fox News cheered this victory right on cue.

PAULA WHITE, TRUMP EVANGELICAL ADVISORY BOARD: Trump hasn't just put Christ back into Christmas, but he's also put prayer back into the White House. He's put justice back into -- and religious freedom back into our courts. He's done so much.

MELBER: That is Fox News basically thanking Trump for winning a long-running rhetorical war that, at best, is an ignorant misunderstanding and, to be clear, at worst, is a nod to decades of anti-Semitic hate.

After Melber went to The Atlantic's David Frum for comment, he went along with Melber's premise as he joked:

Well, look, I'm a double target in the war on Christmas because not only am I Jewish and not a Christian and not observing a Christmas holiday, but I grew up in Canada where people are as likely to say "Happy Christmas" as "Merry Christmas." So it's a two-front war.

After liberal MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson took his turn to dismiss concerns about a "war on Christmas," Melber made his third reference to anti-Semitisim as he followed up:

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To bring it full circle -- that goes to informing friends and neighbors and people -- and there may be people who have no idea that this seemingly overblown, quote, unquote, "war," hails from the roots of anti-Semitism in the United States. And then it's, hey, it's Christmas spirit, it's time to talk to each other, listen to each other, but share that so people know what they're quoting.

Despite all the suggestions by the MSNBC host of anti-Semitism, when Bill O'Reilly used to discuss the "war on Christmas" as an FNC host, the right-leaning commentator had a history of defending public displays of Judaism, and, ironically, in December 2006, on the same night that then-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann suggested anti-Semitism by O'Reilly, the FNC host defended Menorah displays in public places.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, December 26, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell:

10:28 p.m. ET

ARI MELBER: That was Donald Trump in 2015 doing what he does -- parroting someone else's slogan or grievance to just promote himself. Ronald Reagan's campaign slogan was "Make American Great Again." "Drain the swamp" dates back to the liberal Wisconsin politician Winfield Gaylord, who said socialists wanted to drain the swamp. And claims of a "war on Christmas" have been ricocheting around Fox News for many years, but Fox is just one more stop in a long chain of custody that gets uglier the farther back you go because the first rumblings about a "war on Christmas" stem back to the fringe John Birch Society in anti-Semitic pamphlets in the 1920s called "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem."

The cliché that we must know our history to avoid repeating it certainly applies here. The nicest thing you can hope for with today's "war on Christmas" crowd is that they are ignorant of the dark road they have wandered down. President Trump, though, is now declaring this particular war over.

"People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again," he writes. "I'm proud to have led the charge against our cherished and beautiful phrase. Merry Christmas!" Fox News cheered this victory right on cue.

PAULA WHITE, TRUMP EVANGELICAL ADVISORY BOARD: Trump hasn't just put Christ back into Christmas, but he's also put prayer back into the White House. He's put justice back into -- and religious freedom back into our courts. He's done so much.

MELBER: That is Fox News basically thanking Trump for winning a long-running rhetorical war that, at best, is an ignorant misunderstanding and, to be clear, at worst, is a nod to decades of anti-Semitic hate.

(...)

MELBER: How does this whole thing work? And why won't it go away?

DAVID FRUM,: Well, look, I'm a double target in the war on Christmas because not only am I Jewish and not a Christian and not observing a Christmas holiday, but I grew up in Canada where people are as likely to say "Happy Christmas" as "Merry Christmas." So it's a two-front war.

(...)

JASON JOHNSON: I completely agree with you also, this idea of othering people because the whole idea that there was a war on Christmas suggests that there was somebody in America, large groups of people who aren't American enough, who somehow want to take something away. And I'll be honest with you, most people that I happen to know -- and you look at polls across the country and look at any Wal-Mart on a Friday night, Saturday night, lots of people celebrate Christmas whether or not they're religious or not. So the idea of that war was just something else the President created and promoted -- even though it was started at Fox News -- to divide the American people.

MELBER: Yeah, that's really -- to bring it full circle -- that goes to informing friends and neighbors and people -- and there may be people who have no idea that this seemingly overblown, quote, unquote, "war," hails from the roots of anti-Semitism in the United States. And then it's, hey, it's Christmas spirit, it's time to talk to each other, listen to each other, but share that so people know what they're quoting.


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