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Politics: America never stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’

Manhunt intensifies for Berlin Christmas market attacker

  Manhunt intensifies for Berlin Christmas market attacker A massive manhunt was underway Wednesday for the driver of a truck that was intentionally crashed into a Berlin Christmas market, leaving 12 people dead and 48 injured. BERLIN — A massive manhunt was underway Wednesday for the driver of a truck that was intentionally crashed into a Berlin Christmas market, leaving 12 people dead and 48 injured.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly assured his audiences that, if he was elected, America would once again say, “Merry Christmas.” Trump won, and earlier this month, one-time Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski declared victory in the “War on Christmas.”

Attack Sets Off Hunt for Tunisian Who Had Slipped Germany’s Grasp

  Attack Sets Off Hunt for Tunisian Who Had Slipped Germany’s Grasp The identity of the Tunisian, Anis Amri, who had been labeled a security threat and was supposed to have been deported months ago, alarmed intelligence officials.The identity of the Tunisian, Anis Amri, immediately alarmed intelligence officials from Europe to Washington. He had done online research on how to make explosive devices and had communicated with the Islamic State at least once, via Telegram Messenger, American officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the current investigation, said Wednesday evening. He was also on a United States no-fly list, according to the officials.

“You can say again, ‘Merry Christmas,’ because Donald Trump is now the president, you can say it again,” Lewandowski said on Fox News's “Hannity” program. “It's not a pejorative word any more!”

With a sigh of relief, we can report that Americans never stopped saying “Merry Christmas” in the first place.

How do we know? The Internet. That's how.

Consider Google. People search Google for all sorts of things, including holiday greetings. And in the United States, searches for “Merry Christmas” have regularly outnumbered searches for “Happy Holidays” in December of the same year.

Can technology stop another truck attack?

  Can technology stop another truck attack? The attack on a Berlin Christmas market showed the devastation that can be wrought by the simple act of driving a truck into crowds, and the problems in preventing another massacre.The attack in Germany on Monday, in which 11 people were killed by the truck in addition to the murder of the Polish driver, mirrored a militant raid in the French city of Nice in July that killed 86.

  America never stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’ © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

Or we can look at Reddit, the community site where thousands of people leave links and comments every day. Which expression do Redditors use? According to data compiled by FiveThirtyEight, even at Reddit people are far more likely to say “Merry Christmas” than “Happy Holidays.” By a 2-to-1 ratio, at least.

  America never stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’ © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

It is certainly the case that some places use the more inclusive expression “Happy Holidays” in an effort not to alienate non-Christians. Among those who are more likely to do so are brands that are trying to sell people things, which is probably part of the reason that this became an issue in the first place. After all, corporate advertisements are seen by a lot more people than are Reddit comments, giving the impression that perhaps “Happy Holidays” is in broader use than may be the case.

ISIS-linked news agency releases video of Berlin attacker swearing allegiance to the radical group

  ISIS-linked news agency releases video of Berlin attacker swearing allegiance to the radical group The 24-year-old Tunisian suspect Anis Amri, who was fatally shot by police early Friday in Italy, had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State.The 24-year-old Tunisian, Anis Amri, was killed following a dramatic encounter in the Piazza I Maggio in the Sesto San Giovanni area outside Milan, after a two-man patrol stopped him for questioning around 3:15 a.m. on suspicion of burglary.

Now if we're talking about books, it's a different story. Authors use the broader term far more than they use “Merry Christmas,” according to Google Books' scans of thousands of volumes.

  America never stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’ © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

Perhaps Lewandowski and his former boss are spending more time reading books than being online.

Tracking usage in the New York Times suggests that the expression “Happy Holidays” was largely used as a way of describing the period from Christmas to New Year's Day, a carry-over from when the term “holiday” was used as a synonym for vacation.

This advertisement for Eastern Airlines in 1952 demonstrates that usage, in another context. We are sharing this ad mostly because those prices are amusing.

  America never stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’ © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

Over the next several decades, Pew Research estimates that the number of people who don't practice any religion will grow. In 2010, 78.3 percent of Americans were Christian; by 2050, that figure will be 66.4 percent. That's still two-thirds of the country — and the actual number of Christians will remain about the same.

  America never stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’ © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

For now, it's still the case that the majority of people in this country are Christian and happy to celebrate Christmas.

Why is this an issue at all? In part because the past few years have seen the issue of “Merry Christmas” as an effective point of leverage in political culture wars. That's why Trump first adopted the issue: He recognized its resonance, particularly among religious conservatives. And now that he's won, America can, as Lewandowski notes, return to saying “Merry Christmas” as they see fit.

As they already were.

Germany arrests Tunisian who dined with market attacker .
German prosecutors say an acquaintance of suspected Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri has been arrested in a separate case. Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, said that the 26-year-old Tunisian had known Amri since the end of 2015 and the pair ate together at a restaurant the night before the Dec. 19 attack.That led prosecutors to believe that the man may have known about the attack. But Koehler said that they don't currently have enough evidence to seek an arrest warrant.

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