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Things We’re Watching – Fake Patriotic Holiday Trees Ablaze


Editor’s Note:

As Editor of National Compass, I have decided to change things up a bit going into the Fall and perhaps generally moving forward.

Because we don’t compel readers to be interrupted by ads, pop-ups and constant carney barking hustles for subscriptions, we correspondingly do not have a steady or substantial income stream and have no budget for contributing authors.

Consequent to that, it is impossible to expect frequent submissions from writers and that creates the dilemma of how to produce consistent weekly, much less daily content.

The solution, which runs contrary to my habits, if not my instincts, is to go short form with more analysis and make a point quickly and succinctly and let the reader dig further as their interests on one story or another, dictate.

It might be something National Compass needs to incorporate regardless of the present contingencies. So, without further ado, here is the first of two new features, “Things We’re Watching”.

-Richard Cameron


image of a Spec Ops soldier viewing a battlefield with night vision goggles

Let’s begin with the latest snowflake meltdown on the Trumpublican right. You will recall that for several years now and particularly during the entire run of one term loser Trumpty Dumpty, the hue and cry of conservative culture warriors was that there is an secular attack or a “War On Christmas”.

It didn’t matter that no such war was underway and even if some anecdotal proof could be put forth, it never materialized into anything.  But objective evidence still doesn’t matter. The grievance eruptions and hysteria, continue apace.

Fox News, as we know, is not about real news, but about messaging to MAGA land. Objectivity has been, practically speaking, purged from its DNA.  As such, the cultural touchstones and totems of their viewership extract almost all the oxygen from the room. This time of year, it is the trappings of Christmas.

In service of that, Faux News erected a faux Christmas tree outside of their Manhattan headquarters. An unhinged individual (a classification of society FN is no stranger to), set fire to the non flame retardant symbol of yuletide.  I’m thinking there must be an anthem we could adopt. maybe “Smoke On The Concrete”, to the tune of the Deep Purple classic, “Smoke On The Water”?


photo of "Patriotic Christmas Tree" in front of Fox News' Manhattan HQ, burning after set ablaze by a homeless man.
“Patriotic Christmas Tree” in front of Fox News’ Manhattan HQ, burning after set ablaze by a homeless man.


Had this event not proven to be yet another pregnant opportunity for Faux News to fake outrage in macro against the perceived enemies of heritage holidays, it would have had a twelve hour news cycle at most and faded away peacefully. But no. You would have thought this was the social conservative equivalent of a Black man dying after a cop kneeled on his neck for 9 and a half minutes. picks up the Pearl (Harbor) clutching action:

Fox CEO Suzanne Scott described it as a “deliberate and brazen act of cowardice.” Tucker Carlson, whose name presents certain opportunities for limerick writers (see below) called it a “hate crime.” Fox contributor (Reverend) Jacques DeGraff went even further than that, and compared the burning of the tree to…the attack on Pearl Harbor. Seems very reasonable. Undoubtedly, the 1,102 Marines and sailors still trapped in the wreckage of the U.S.S. Arizona would agree if they hadn’t, you know, died that day.

Excuse me, but World Trade Federation! were these people under the influence of?  And please remind me not to ingest any of it. 

The individual arrested on one count each of felony second-degree criminal mischief, misdemeanor second-degree reckless endangerment and misdemeanor fifth-degree arson. charges for lighting up Faux’s faux patriotic “All American Christmas Tree” is a homeless man, Craig Tamanaha – and a man with profound mental health issues that needs clinical treatment, not incarceration, which in the case of the charges filed, could amount to 7 years in a state penitentiary. 

Meanwhile, Trump has yet to be brought to account for inciting violent sedition that claimed several lives and it will be extraordinary if he is sentenced to actual prison time for his crimes. 


Quote from Reverend Jacques DeGraaf comparing the arson of Fox News' Patriotic Christmas Tree to the Japanese military's attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II

Allow me, for a brief moment, to raise some questions and relate some observations that are going to get my ass in a sling with some people. Oh well …

First, out of the gate, and I mention this annually –  what does the modern constellation of holiday rituals and materialist trappings of “Christmas” have to do with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, whom historians, in the majority agree, was not born in December or on the 25th of the month?

More specifically, the Pine or Fir tree – from whence its intrinsic relationship in the minds of people who associate it with the Christian bible? Turns out the connection is dubiously interpretive at best.

No one in the Common Era in Palestine would have had any concept of a “Christmas Tree” or even know what one looked like, aside from if they had heard of or seen evergreens such as Cypress and Cedar which were more common in Lebanon. 

No such tree was referenced in the Gospels and historians aside from various church traditions, speculate that the “True Cross” was fashioned by the Roman authorities from Olive trees; other legends asserting the Dogwood.  But now we’re veering into another critical date on the ecumenical calendar – Easter

Nope, the Christmas tree has its origins in pagan religious traditions in Europe and did not get grafted into the seasonal traditions of some Christians until over 1,500 years later. The Latvians, Lithuanians and Alsatians all debate whose celebrations first date the modern origins. 

It was even a few centuries after that, when Christmas decor gained even moderate acceptance in the New World. The History Channel notes that Puritans in New England, were dead set against every vestige of what we now take for granted with regard to the festivities associated with the Christmas holiday:      

To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims’ second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations.

Since then, many layers of theological paint have been applied to the notion of a sanctified holiday tree in order to bury the pagan history of them. 

People rationalize a lot in order to conflate all of the intense marketing, materialism and the corresponding accumulation of household debt, with basic Christianity, but one has to, or should at least, stop to ponder – are there any red lines beyond which the truly devoted should not step past? 

Would fusing nationalist motifs with adopted Christian symbolism be one? Substituting Christianity as the province of a national tribal identity in place of a universal creed? 

I can’t answer that question, but I can note that at this stage of societal evolution in America, “patriotism” and Christianity are joined inextricably at the hip for millions of Christians, even more so than love and marriage.  As the late and justly esteemed Senator Bob Dole would have quipped, “You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.”



Family group photo of The Duggars - the Reality TV family about obsessive child rearing
Family group photo of The Duggars – subjects of the Reality TV program “19 and counting”, about obsessive child rearing.


Remember “The Duggars”? Yes, that’s right – the family whose reality TV claim to fame was the perverse distinction of harnessing their fetish for cranking out 19 children to create a lifestyle and income stream around it.  Well, turns out that not all is well in “fruitful and multiply land.”

Early on in the seemingly endless fecundity promotion tour, Michelle Duggar wrote on the blog, a mission statement of sorts:                              

“Our desire in opening our home to the world has been to make Christ known and to share Bible principles that are the answers for life’s problems! We pray that everyone will find true hope in trusting Jesus Christ!”

Uh, huh. I wish I could say that I was shocked to hear the Associated Press report that one of Jim Bob and Michelle’s oldest children, Joshua Duggar, has been “found guilty of one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography.  He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, and up to $250,000 for each count when he is sentenced at a later date.”  

It was discovered in testimony that Joshua’s parents knew of Joshua’s actual molestation of children as early as 2003.  Jim Bob and Michelle hid the truth from the world for years as they continued to enrich themselves from an extreme Multigravida compulsive disorder, or the obsession to be a human fetus bakery. 

Josh himself, has 7 children, who now will be without a father in the home, but given that he was convicted on “knowingly receiving child pornography” and “knowingly possessing material that contained images of child pornography,” including “images of minors under the age of 12,” that may be for the best. 

It seems strongly unlikely that the usual suspects among the Gee Ohhhh Pee that align themselves with Christian Nationalism and cultural Evangelicalism are going to be bringing up the Duggars again any time soon.


A Twitter post featuring a photo collage showing convicted sex offender, Josh Duggar posing for publicity photos with GOP Senate luminaries, Tom Cotton (R-AR), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Jinger Duggar, Josh’s sister who has of late, taken up the scandalous practice of the wearing of slacks, recalls the legalistic dictates of her parents’ strict observance of the Independent Christian Baptists movement that was indoctrinated in the Duggar household. “My mom had always dressed us girls in skirts and dresses, a standard that was taken from Deuteronomy 22:5, which says, ‘A woman shall not wear a man’s garment,’ (ESV) and I never really questioned it.”  

Michelle and Jim Bob are also active supporters of and participants in the evangelical family ministry and homeschooling organization Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), formerly led by founder Bill Gothard, who the org was forced to repudiate in 2014, when over 30 women stepped forward with charges of sexual abuse when they were teens. That sounds familar in the news cycle of late. 

HelloMagazine outlines that the charges against Josh came six years after it was alleged that between 2002 and 2003, when Josh was a teenager, he had molested young girls (as young as 5 years old)  including some of his sisters.  Jill and younger sister Jessa came forward and acknowledged they were two of the victims; but no charges were ever filed.

In 2015, Josh was reported to have been using adultery dating service Ashley Madison, revealed after its records were hacked, and adult film star Danica Dillon also alleged he had assaulted her during a sexual encounter.

And, just yesterday, things got even more real with the Duggar clan. Jana Duggar, 31, has been charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child, Arkansas court records showed Friday.

She pled not guilty via a family attorney on Sept. 23 according to the court docket.  The alleged violation, the document states, occured on Sept. 9.  A trial by judge is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2022.

In the interim, a 2016 opinion from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge resolved that details of a “child maltreatment investigation” can be withheld from the public in the interest of protecting the minor involved.

However, despite the concealment of the specifics, it can be deduced in general terms, that the allegations involve some form and degree of conduct on the part of the defendant, “creating a substantial risk of serious harm to the physical or mental welfare of a person known by the actor to be a minor.”

Arguably, there exists within the world of religion, a normative space where adherents to one or another faith tradition derive the wisdom and comfort that can be obtained from it – but have the sense and restraint to not carry dogma to the extremes. 

On the other hand, it is altogether too clear that religion, including Christianity, has the unfortunate capacity to be toxic and to endanger both personal safety and mental health of children and adults alike. It’s also clear that despite the credulity of many people who are willfully misled, not all that glitters is Gold. 

Thank you for reading and please share your thoughts by scrolling down to the comments section and reacting to these stories.

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