Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Right-wing tantrum over Jill Biden Christmas video accidentally reveals how much MAGA hates America. (

Love this video. Thanks to Dr. Jill Biden,  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Dorrance Dance. Happy holidays!   Pray for joyless juvenile termagants and trolls. From

Right-wing tantrum over Jill Biden Christmas video accidentally reveals how much MAGA hates America

When the "war on woke" is over, the only entertainment left for Trump cultists will be Dear Leader's speeches


Senior Writer 


First lady Jill Biden speaks about the holiday season and unveils the White House holiday decor while thanking volunteers who helped set it up, at the White House on November 27, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
First lady Jill Biden speaks about the holiday season and unveils the White House holiday decor while thanking volunteers who helped set it up, at the White House on November 27, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Last week, First Lady Jill Biden, rejecting her predecessor's loathing of Christmas cheer, posted a sweet and silly video of the Dorrance Dance company performing a tap dance to a jazz reimagining of "Dance of the Floreadores" from "The Nutcracker Suite."

To normal people, the video was a bit of old-fashioned Christmas cheer in the great American tradition of musical extravaganzas like those of Busby Berkeley. To MAGA-Americans, however, it was a moral and aesthetic outrage that was going straight into their file labeled "Why Now Is The Time For American Fascism." Tellingly, despite the flood of angry comments, Republicans struggled to articulate exactly what they found so offensive. Vague terms like "weird," "grotesque and abhorrent," and "classless" accompanied odd accusations that the performance reminded them of "The Hunger Games." Chaya Raichik of Libs of TikTok whined that it "should’ve come with a sensitivity label." To her million-plus Twitter followers, right-wing influencer Brigitte Gabriel groused, "Children should not be watching this smut!" 

The people MAGA hates were up in the White House having a good time. 

Soon the New York Post and Breitbart got involved. They, too, were stubbornly unwilling to offer any specifics about their objections, beyond the Breitbart writer complaining that the dancers "are so PROUD of themselves." (The dancers are smiling broadly, which is the tradition of musical theater.) Even Ross Douthat, supposedly a "reasonable" conservative columnist at the New York Times, couldn't help but join the anti-joy dogpile. 

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Well, MAGA has their reasons to beat around the bush, but that shouldn't stop the rest of us. Anyone with working knowledge of right-wing trigger points knows what fueled the outrage, and it's not just a general right-wing aversion to fun. It's plain bigotry. The first smiling face we see in the video is a Black woman. Throughout the video, many of the dancers read as people of color and queer people. Plus, the music is jazz, not classical. We are apparently at that point in fascist development where they reject syncopated rhythms as decadent and emasculating.

Who knew "Swing Kids," the 1993 Christian Bale movie about the Nazi ban on jazz, would be so relevant in 2023? This is especially idiotic coming from people who always falsely accuse liberals of waging "war on Christmas." I have yet to see a progressive influencer, much less a liberal New York Times columnist, get angry because someone else is having holiday fun. 

Biden's haters dug up a statement of anti-racism from the troupe's leader, Michelle Dorrance, and held it out as some kind of gotcha. But they gotcha'd themselves, by dragging that subtext right into the daylight. Racism and homophobia are obviously what's fueling this tantrum. Getting outraged over an anti-racist statement is an unwitting admission of what they can't say out loud. (Well, most, anyway. There were a few MAGA types who flatly stated their objection: "This is gay as hell.") All the coded language about "weird" and "classless" and "smut" was just a thin veil over the real grievance: The people MAGA hates were up in the White House having a good time. 

No doubt the vast majority of this furor is performative instead of deeply felt. Most of these people have been taking in musicals and goofy Christmas entertainment their entire lives without a second thought. But this should be seen as part of the larger MAGA project to categorize increasing amounts of culture as "woke" and therefore forbidden. They're gradually reducing the amount of contact Trumpists have with the outside world, until the only entertainment they're allowed is old Donald Trump speeches. Standard cult move, really: Cut your followers off from any pleasure or association with the outside world, making them easier to control. 

But what struck me in all this is how deeply anti-American this right-wing fury is.  "Dance of the Floreadores," usually called the "Waltz of the Flowers" was originally composed for an 1892 ballet by a Russian, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. But absolutely everything else about this video is a testament to the vast musical creativity of Americans. Jazz was invented in the U.S. As was tap dancing, which developed from the intermingling of Irish immigrants and African-Americans. The musical is an American invention, and its garish traditions blossomed during the Great Depression when extravaganza at the movie theater relieved the dullness of everyday life. The particular arrangement of the "Waltz of the Flowers" featured at the White House is from a 1960 album of jazz renditions of "The Nutcracker Suite" by Duke Ellington and his band, with arrangements by his long-time collaborator Billy Strayhorn. 

These are the kinds of histories that we should be proud of. All this artistic innovation defined American culture and proved to be so popular that it spread out across the globe. But it also tells a story about the United States that the MAGA movement wants to erase. It's about the outsized impact that Black Americans have had on American music, basically inventing and refining and redefining every musical form that originated here. (Yes, even country-western.) It's about how queer people have always been with us and always been artistic innovators, including Strayhorn, who was an out gay Black man when both identities were dangerous. 

It's fitting that the MAGA movement, which has unsubtly aligned itself with Vladimir Putin's anti-democratic agenda, would react as if this video is smearing American taint all over a pure Russian artifact. One supposes as well that the Libs of Tik Tok/Moms for Liberty crowd would like to ignore what even Putin cannot, that Tchaikovsky was gay. They can't help but expose how they hold American culture in contempt. Instead, they fetishize a sanitized version of 19th-century European culture. It's reminiscent of Trump's efforts to ban modern American architecture for what he deemed the "classical" style of columns and marble. None of this is subtle, but just bigotry trying to justify itself in grandiose trappings. 

n all this, they reveal one of the biggest lies of a movement built on lies: That they are "patriots." They don't love America. They hate everything about it. As Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley has explained, "Fascism appeals to an imaginary and glorious past destroyed by the forces of liberalism, cosmopolitanism and globalism." Part of the authoritarian project is erasing the actual past, especially in America where liberal ideals, cultural interchange, and urban life were central to forging the culture that is uniquely ours. It's why book banning has become such a craze on the right, despite its political unpopularity. Erasing real history means destroying the books that have recorded it. 

It's all why, as silly as this right-wing rage over a harmless tap dance video may be, it's still important to take note of it. This is part of the larger and growing culture war, aimed at rewriting American culture in their own image, while erasing the way immigration, racial diversity, and queerness have shaped it. Nor do these eliminationist impulses stop at cultural expression. People themselves get targeted. Trump is out there promising to "root out" the "vermin," a group so hazily and expansively defined it could encompass everyone who voted against him. In this reaction to a sweet little Christmas video, we get an idea of who Trump's supporters also have in mind with their "rooting out" fantasies. 


Amanda Marcotte is a senior politics writer at Salon and the author of "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself." Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte and sign up for her biweekly politics newsletter, Standing Room Only.


1 comment:

Edzilla said...

Meanwhile the right wing embarrass themselves constantly but if course this doesn't occur to them because delusional grandiosity. Only permanently mad over what they see as unfair treatment of Trump. Nevermind the 90+ felony charges that's all fake news, political persecution, and the fault of Hunter Biden's laptop. Pretty much these people are either delusional or pro crime or both.