Republican glorification of gun violence is the real ‘war on Christmas’
U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., posted this Christmas card photo of himself and his family armed to the teeth with military-style assault weapons on Twitter. | via Twitter

Nazis were notorious for perverting Christmas. No longer were Germans to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. They were to glorify Hitler and military might. Instead of teddy bears and toy trains, parents were urged to give their little boys toy weapons, including pistols, rifles, and machine guns.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is giving the Hitler worshippers a run for their money by posting on Twitter a photo of himself and gun-toting family members all grinning and posing for a photo in front of a Christmas tree.

Massie’s family arsenal is real. The congressman and his kin are brandishing what look like military-style assault weapons. “Merry Christmas! p.s. Santa, please bring ammo,” says the photo caption.

Just days before the congressman posted the picture, a teenager used a semi-automatic, military-style pistol to shoot to death four fellow students at a Michigan high school. He nicknamed the handgun “my new beauty.”

Massie’s perversion of Christmas shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s a gun-worshipping, far-right-wing wacko who dwells deep in the GOP’s most fetid fever swamps. Though a lot of Republicans act like “GOP” stands for “God’s Own Party,” GOP bigwigs, so far, haven’t rushed to denounce Massie’s depraved insensitivity or to condemn his photo that blasphemes the birthday of the Prince of Peace.

No matter, the grassroots GOP Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t stand-you white folks in the red MAGA hats seem to be big fans of the photo. It’s reportedly triggered tens of thousands of “likes” and retweets.

Anyway, growing up in the Presbyterian Church, l learned that the Guy who’s the reason for the season preached peace over war and love over hate. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus also famously said.

Massie is a Methodist who fancies himself a macho gun guy. He turned 20 right before the start of the first Gulf War. Decades of conflict in the Middle East followed.

So in his salad days, Massie had ample opportunities to volunteer for military service. You’d think he’d have jumped at the chance to shoot real guns at real enemies. But he stayed stateside on Civvy Street.

At any rate, politicians like Massie who came of age during the Vietnam War ended up in the New Hampshire Gazette’s “Chickenhawk Database,” which was posted online a few years back.

Compiled by Gazette publisher Steve Fowle, a Vietnam vet, the database was a compilation of right-wing Republican pols and pundits who shared “three qualities: bellicosity (a warlike manner or temperament), public prominence, and a curious lack of wartime service when others their age had no trouble finding the fight.”

Massie and his political kindreds sadden western Kentuckian Gene Nettles, a retired Army paratrooper colonel, and Vietnam combat veteran. He says their loudly professed patriotism is phony and disrespects “my buddies and classmates.”

While mum’s mostly the word about the photo from Massie’s side of the political aisle, Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, the Bluegrass State’s sole Democrat in Washington, tweeted his promise that “not everyone in Kentucky is an insensitive asshole.”

Massie’s Fourth Congressional District sprawls over northern Kentucky and includes Kenton County, whose Democratic chair, Tom Elfers, called the incumbent’s Christmas picture “morally reprehensible.”

Like Yarmuth, Elfers didn’t pull punches: “The fact that a sitting U.S. Congressman would post something so insensitive when the families of four teenagers are currently grieving the loss of their loved ones, only days after being gunned down in a public school in Michigan, is in poor taste and absolutely shameful. The people of Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District deserve better.”

Even so, Massie won reelection with more than 67% of the vote last year.

“The people of northern Kentucky who vote him in ought to be ashamed of themselves,” said Kentucky Journalism Hall of Famer Bill Straub, who writes a column for the Northern Kentucky Tribune online.

Added Straub, who was the Kentucky Post’s Frankfort Bureau chief and a White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service: “Massie is an attention pig. He thrives off this and thinks it’s amusing, which just shows how soulless he really is. How much more disgusting can a person be?”

Meanwhile, for years, Republicans have been falsely accusing Democrats of waging “war on Christmas” because they believe—as do most Americans of faith—in freedom of, and from, religion and in a “wall of separation” between church and state.

Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember anywhere in the Bible where Jesus packed swords, knives, clubs, bows-and-arrows, or any other kind of weapon. I do recall Him telling his followers to love their neighbors, friends and foe alike, and to turn the other cheek.

So what could be more mockingly anti-Christian and anti-Christmas than to celebrate the season of Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men by mugging for a camera while armed to the teeth with weapons more than potent enough to blow off cheeks—and whole heads, to boot.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.


Berry Craig
Berry Craig

Lifelong Kentuckian Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, recording secretary for the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and a member of the state AFL-CIO Executive Board. His ninth book on the history of his state, “Kentuckians and Pearl Harbor: Stories from the Day of Infamy,” was published by the University Press of Kentucky in November 2020.