It’s almost December, meaning that not only is the Christmas sales season nearly in full effect, but so is the season of conservative media outlets mercilessly attacking major retailers to gin up outrage.
Since the early 2000s, conservatives have declared there’s a “War on Christmas,” with the focus of such complaints focusing on some retailers’ use of the term “Happy Holidays” instead of Christmas.
The implication of the term — popularized by conservatives like former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and radio host John Gibson — was that schools and corporations had begun censoring any mention of the holiday’s Christian roots out of either a desire to be “politically correct” or a mistaken belief that acknowledging the Christian nature of the holiday violated the Constitution.
Over the years, critics have accused conservatives of seeking to invoke faux outrage related to the holiday while perpetuating a false narrative that Christianity is under attack from secular elements in American society.
The latest trend appears to have evolved into a larger, year-round “war on woke.” As such, conservatives frequently attack retailers for selling merchandise that caters to the LGBTQ community or incorporates racial and ethnic diversity.
Enter Fox News, one of the original pushers of the “War on Christmas” narrative.
Last week, Fox News host Jesse Watters railed against big box retailer Target for selling a nutcracker with a “Progress Pride flag” painted in rainbow colors — which the store has been selling since at least 2021 — and for a figurine of a Black Santa Claus using a wheelchair, intended to be marketed to people with disabilities and their supporters.
Watters, who previously stoked the ire of conservatives in June for selling Pride-themed merchandise, claimed he had sent a producer to “investigate” the disabled Santas and Pride nutcrackers, the latter of which have led conservatives in online forums to call for a second boycott of Target, reports LGBTQ Nation.
Watters then turned to Riley Gaines, the former University of Kentucky swimmer-turned-anti-trans-activist who makes regular appearances as a pundit on conservative media outlets. Gaines claimed that Target had banned employees from saying the word “Christmas” in 2005 — a claim referencing the so-called “War on Christmas” that was rated “false” by Snopes over 15 years ago — and told Watters she believes the ban was “still in effect.” She then mused aloud how Target “is allowed” to sell Christmas merchandise, as if there was some prohibition on it.
“They’re allowed to have Black disabled Santa?” Gaines said. “And a gay nutcracker? It doesn’t make sense. You have to ask yourself: ‘Why do they keep pushing this?’ Who are they trying to appeal to?’ Because despite what the media portrays or how politicians are voting, this doesn’t represent how the overwhelming majority of how this country, really how the world, feels on this issue.
“I think the majority of people, parents especially, can acknowledge that gay nutcracker and Black disabled Santa has gone way too far, the pendulum has swung too far.”
Watters responded that he was “not upset” about the merchandise, but expressed concerns about children seeing the merchandise, echoing well-worn conservative talking points that LGBTQ visibility is harmful to children.
“This guy’s one thing,” he said, holding up the Black Santa in a wheelchair, “but the gay nutcracker, I mean, this — this appeals to children, the Christmas spirit. You decorate the house, you put nutcracker up there. Is this sexualizing Christmas for children?”
Watters turned to guest pundit and Fox Business News correspondent Madison Alworth, who noted the backlash that Target had received over its Pride merchandise earlier this year, resulting in a drop in sales.
She also referenced a similar backlash against beer giant Bud Light and its parent company Anheuser-Busch, in response to a promotional gimmick featuring transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney, which led to a decline in sales and stock value, large-scale boycotts of Budweiser products, and the loss of Bud’s designation as the top-selling beer in the United States.
“They’re still making choices like this, so you have to imagine that this is either a direction they want to take, and they’re ignoring the bottom line, or maybe it’s not having as big an impact,” Alworth said of Target’s decision to sell LGBTQ-themed merchandise. “But you look at the stock, and you do see it going down, so you do know that there’s an impact. And you have to wonder, what is the point?”
Watch the Fox News segment below:
We're witnessing the Dylanization of corporate America. Companies are committing financial suicide- one after the other.
Target hired Gay Cruella to run their merchandising strategy and now they're selling gay nutcrackers and disabled Santa's. And if you want one, you can just… pic.twitter.com/ZB6XHmlRKe
— Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) November 17, 2023
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