President Obama’s “Happy Kwanzaa” wishes have sparked a social media firestorm of vitriol from those who feel the greeting is somehow inappropriate or anti-Christian, or that the well-wishes somehow overshadow Christmas. There are even accusations that the White House is showing unfair preference by expressing greetings for Kwanzaa while failing to wish a Merry Christmas to celebrants of that holiday.
Do the accusations hold up, though?
First, let’s look at the greeting itself.
“… unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith — also shared values that bind us as Americans.”
Unfortunately, not everyone was warmed by the President’s Kwanzaa greetings. Below you can see a small sampling of some responses from followers who were offended that Obama would wish Americans a Happy Kwanzaa but not a Merry Christmas.
“Odd that I don’t recall any Christmas wishes.”
“…did I miss your Merry Christmas greeting?”
“…but won’t say Merry Christmas.”
Why would the president ignore an official Federal holiday, that so many Americans celebrate, only to expressly address a celebration that a smaller number (NPR estimated in 2012 that 2 percent of Americans celebrate Kwanzaa) hold dear?
Well, the answer is, he didn’t. Here are Christmas greetings from both President Obama’s own Twitter, and the White House account.
“From the Obama family to yours, Merry Christmas!”
The post from the White House includes a video, in which the President even expressly states that he enjoys Christmas as a celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus, and he and First Lady Michelle Obama wish viewers a Merry Christmas.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 25, 2015
The White House account also shared this Christmas greeting.
Only a single tweet from the White House account wished Americans a Happy Kwanzaa — at this time, neither the President not the First Lady’s own accounts have mentioned the holiday.
Despite the public show of outrage, there’s no sign that President Obama ignored Christmas in favor of Kwanzaa, placed Kwanzaa higher than Christmas, or otherwise snubbed the holiday, in either it’s religious or secular celebratory sense.
As for any claims of anti-Christian sentiment, the White House issued a statement on December 23 expressing prayers for Christians who live in nations where they cannot safely and openly practice their beliefs.
Of course, aside from the specific Kwanzaa well-wishes, there were mentions of the use of the broader “Happy Holidays” greeting instead of “Merry Christmas.” This, too, is in error. Aside from the fact that all three accounts did indeed wish America a Merry Christmas, there are no “Happy Holidays” posts directly from any of the three this year. (The White House did retweet Joe Biden’s “Happy Holidays,” which also received angry responses, and has used “Happy Holidays” in posts in past years.)
[Image via White House/Twitter]