Home/Rod Dreher/Queer Santa As A Condensed Symbol Of Progressivism

Queer Santa As A Condensed Symbol Of Progressivism

A commercial for the Norwegian postal service shows Santa Claus getting a boyfriend:

There is nothing that these cultural revolutionaries will not make serve their revolution. No precious cultural tradition. This is what it means to “queer” everything: to turn it upside down, and to introduce sexual desire into everything. To enchant the world by imbuing everything in it with queerness.

Now the children of Norway have queer Santa. Why? What’s the point of bringing the culture war to children’s Christmas traditions? It’s because they — LGBTs and their straight allies — cannot allow any territory to go uncontested. There can be no neutral ground. All things must be infused with revolutionary order. This is a manifestation of soft totalitarianism. From Live Not By Lies:

One of contemporary progressivism’s commonly used phrases—the personal is political—captures the
totalitarian spirit, which seeks to infuse all aspects of life with political consciousness. Indeed, the Left pushes its ideology ever deeper into the personal realm, leaving fewer and fewer areas of daily life uncontested. This, warned Arendt, is a sign that a society is ripening for totalitarianism, because that is what totalitarianism essentially is: the politicization of everything.

Infusing every aspect of life with ideology was a standard aspect of Soviet totalitarianism. Early in the Stalin era, N. V. Krylenko, a Soviet commissar (political officer), steamrolled over chess players who wanted to keep politics out of the game.

“We must finish once and for all with the neutrality of chess,” he said. “We must condemn once and for all the formula ‘chess for the sake of chess,’ like the formula ‘art for art’s sake.’ We must organize shockbrigades of chess-players, and begin immediate realization of a Five-Year Plan for chess.”

The reader who sent this to me says it’s one more reason why he wants to “check out” of this civilization. He wants nothing to do with a civilization that queers Santa Claus, and calls it progress. I get that. What is there to defend? We in the West are ruled by people who hate its traditions, hate its ancestral religion, hate its history, and hate many of the people who live within it. They are infusing their ideology of racial hatred and queerness into everything they can, even, as we have seen, the military. Our kids are bombarded with gender theory in classrooms, trying to alienate them from their bodies, and even from their own parents, whose authority activist teachers are intending to subvert. 

I won’t go into the long list here, because you regular readers have heard it all before. This is just a reminder that the culture war is something the Left wages on all settled traditions, on anything sacred (even “sacred” secular traditions, like Santa). Now, in Berlin, they’ve gone after the Virgin Mary. The model is the European Union’s “special ambassador” to the LGBT community:

From the same issue of the magazine:


This is sacrilege. They — the ruling class — hate us. They really hate us. These two queer Christmas things — the Norwegian commercial and the German magazine — appear now in Europe, but you know good and well that Europe only beat us Americans to it.

I wonder for how long moderate and moderately conservative Americans will be “Good Mainline Protestants” of the sort who tolerated every new outrage within their church, saying, “If the liberals here cross one more line, I’m out the door” — but that line keeps getting crossed, and nothing changes? That is, how much longer are people in the middle and on the right — and even faithful Christians on the left — going to keep tolerating things like this, and accepting it either as Progress, or as something that we just have to live with? Where is our self-respect? Where is our sense of right and wrong, of dignity?

We just let these people, these elites who run this regime (= media, education, corporations, the military, government) crap on us over and over, and tell us that in the name of Righteousness we have to accept things like a strong young man claiming to be a woman, beating women’s swimmers in competition, and if we don’t, we are horrible bigots who deserve to be repressed?

How much longer will we tolerate being shat on by elites who tell us that our religion is garbage, and needs to be queered, that our civic traditions are garbage, that the traditional family is garbage, that maleness and femaleness are garbage, that the nation is garbage, and even that people of certain races are garbage?

How are we going to hold America together? How are we going to hold the West together?

Should it be held together? Who wants to risk their lives, or the lives of their children, to defend the kind of country and civilization we are becoming? Y’all want to queer Christmas, be my guest. Y’all serve the false gods of the progressive pantheon. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.If that means persecution, well, bring it: I would rather suffer for the Truth than to bend the knee to your lies, provocations, and blasphemies — and I stand with my African, Latino, and Asian brothers and sisters in Christ on this.

Good luck defending this country from its enemies. I hope and pray that none of my children go into the woke Armed Forces, and get sent overseas to fight for this corrupt Empire. Alasdair MacIntyre’s final paragraph of After Virtue inspired The Benedict Option — and is more valid today than it ever was:

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman empire declined into the Dark Ages.  Nonetheless certain parallels there are.  A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium.  What they set themselves to achieve instead–often not recognizing fully what they were doing–was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness.  If my account of our moral condition, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point.  What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us.  And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope.  This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time.  And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament.  We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another–doubtless very different–St. Benedict.”

The reader who sent me the queer Santa Claus commercial said, in effect, that he is turning aside from the task of shoring up the American imperium and is ceasing to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. Queer Santa wasn’t the trigger, but it is a condensed symbol of so much he despises about what we have become. This man was a refugee from the Big Lie of Soviet communism, which conquered his native land and drove him out. Now, for the second time in his life, he feels like an alien in his own country.

What is a condensed symbol? Reader Raskolnik wrote this about it on this blog years ago:

Back in the 60’s, the sociologist Mary Douglas came up with the idea of a “condensed symbol.” The idea is that certain practices or ideas can become a kind of shorthand for a whole worldview. She used the example of fasting on Fridays, which the Bog Irish (generally lowerclass Irish Catholics living in England) persisted in doing, despite the fact that their better-educated, generally-upperclass clergy kept telling them to give to the poor or do something else that better fit with secular humanist mores instead. Her point was that the Bog Irish kept fasting, not due to obdurate traditionalism, or some misplaced faith in the “magical” effectiveness of the practice, but because it functioned as a “condensed symbol”: fasting on Fridays was a shorthand way of signifying connection to the past, to one’s identity as Irish, as well as to a less secularized (or completely non-secular) vision of what religious practice was all about. It acquired an outsized importance because it connected systems of meaning.

A further explanation:

condensation symbol is “a name, word, phrase, or maxim which stirs vivid impressions involving the listener’s most basic values and readies the listener for action,” as defined by political scientist Doris Graber. Short words or phrases such as “my country,” “old glory” “American Dream,” “family values,” are all condensation symbols because they conjure a specific image within the listener and carry “intense emotional and effective power.” Often used to further the meaning of a symbol or phrase, the condensation symbol has a semantic meaning, but through long-term use, it has acquired other connotations that further its symbolic meaning. Doris Graber identified three main characteristics of condensation symbols, as they: (1) Have the tendency to evoke rich and vivid images in an audience. (2) Possess the capacity to arouse emotions. (3) Supply instant categorizations and evaluations.

We all know exactly what Queer Santa means: it symbolizes an entire worldview. We know what Trans Virgin Mary means: it symbolizes an entire worldview. It is the worldview of the ruling class throughout the West, one that rejects and even mocks all traditional norms, and seeks to eradicate them from public and private life. My liberal readers are going to roll their eyes and say Dreher’s hair is on fire over a mere TV commercial, and a gay magazine from Berlin. More discerning readers will know that I object to these things as condensed symbols of the entire progressive worldview — a worldview that is hysterically intolerant, and that makes war on social and religious conservatives at every opportunity.

As Viktor Orban said this week about the takeover of government in Germany by the Left: “We now prepare for battle with our eyes wide open.” He is talking about Hungary’s fight with the EU’s dominant left-wing. It is also true for us, in our own conflicts here in America. The fight parents in Virginia waged against the stealth attempts by school officials to infuse the curriculum with Critical Race Theory laid bare one aspect of the battle, and why it must be undertaken with eyes wide open. Parents can no longer take trust in school authorities for granted — and, as Abigail Shrier revealed in her recent reporting, in some places teachers and school officials are actively trying to undermine parental authority over their children, so the kids can be queered.

We have gone so far beyond “tolerance” that the claims and arguments of fifteen, twenty years ago might as well have occurred in the Dark Ages. Nobody wants this culture war, but this war has come to us whether we consent or not.  The other side holds all the institutional power in this country, and it has no intention of tolerating us. Remember this?

What do I have in common with these people? I wonder that more and more with each passing day.

UPDATE: I am about to go into the comments to approve them, and am wondering how many of them will be in the spirit of the Defense of Butthole-Licking, e.g., “Who’s to say that this is really wrong, as long as there’s consent?”

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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