Any true connoisseur of “A Christmas Carol” would rank Alistair Sim’s 1951 star turn at the top of the list. It’s impossible to resist sharing the sheer joy of his Ebenezer Scrooge, waking up to discover he’s been given a second chance to become a human being, one who can make the world a better place with generosity and kindness. And he gets something out of the deal, as well.
Cue the happy ending and lessons learned.
For this holiday season, a remake is in order, with Scrooge a sucker for falling for Bob Cratchit’s tale of woe. A raise? Times are tough, or haven’t you heard how many people would love to have that clerk job. The greedy Jacob Marley may not be loved, but he sure would be admired, perhaps even praised, for accumulating as much wealth as possible in this life, with little regard for his soul in the next.
And what’s that hiding under the cloak of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come? Not Ignorance and Want, which come with a warning of harm if these societal ills are ignored. But instead, sacks filled with fraudulent mail-in ballots from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The point of so many holiday tales, when you think of it, hinges on transformation — that moment when the protagonist opens his or her heart. Think of the Grinch, whose actual heart seems to grow three sizes when he hears the gift-less residents of Whoville raising their voices in glorious song.
Nowadays, Scrooge’s willingness to change, to place himself in the shoes of others, to feel empathy would make him the chump, not the hero. And the Grinch would hoard his bags of purloined goodies and kick his cute little pup for good measure, taking delight in “owning” the Whos.
The holidays just aren’t so merry, not with a world on edge with news of an omicron variant complicating the COVID-19 crisis. Much of the panicked discussions center on inequities in vaccine distribution and charges that countries in southern Africa are being penalized with travel bans for being transparent about sharing knowledge and research.
Are we in this together or at one another’s throats?
The United States still faces hurdles when it comes to getting all its citizens vaccinated. The supply is there, but politics mean it’s not just about the science anymore. When omicron surfaced, not far behind was the latest conspiracy theory, this one promulgated by an actual physician.
To heck with warnings from the World Health Organization. Over the weekend, Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, summed his view up in a tweet: “Here comes the MEV — the Midterm Election Variant! They NEED a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to CHEAT during an election — but we’re not going to let them!”
That doesn’t even make sense, as anything that increases dread about a global pandemic would not be on President Joe Biden’s personal or political holiday list.
But neither sense nor the spirit of the season can dent the barriers that too many, including those elected as leaders, have constructed.
Where are the wise men and women bearing gifts?
All we’ve got are Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, pumped up with power in a Republican Party they rule, with support from the Ghost of an Administration Past, holed up in Mar-a-Lago. Donald Trump will not go away, except to dodge requests for records and information from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol undertaken in an attempt to overthrow the election that unseated him.
Arizona’s Gosar, who unapologetically retweeted his incendiary altered anime depicting the killing of a House colleague, has company now that Boebert has elevated her insults directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. The Colorado freshman, who thinks the phrase “jihad squad” is clever, has implied Omar is a terrorist and called her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., “black-hearted evil women.” A vile and threatening phone message left on Omar’s voicemail after Boebert’s attack, one that Omar said was representative of many more like it, went further.
Of course, Boebert prefaces nonapologies with “as a strong Christian woman who values faith deeply.” Christ must be so proud of the shoutout.
The third member of the Magi would have to be Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgia. Stripped of her committee assignments for her own incendiary antics, she has become a full-time troll, spewing bile on Democrats and Republicans alike.
One of her latest targets was South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, who, though reliably Republican on policy issues, called out Boebert for her anti-Muslim remarks. Greene labeled Mace “the trash in the GOP conference.”
Mace eventually countered with a “bless her … heart,” one way to win — or at least end — that exchange. It may not rise to Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, every one,” but it sure beats “Bah, humbug.”
Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.