Sure, the first time Scott Walker poked his finger in the eyes of his constituents it was to banish collective bargaining among government workers in the state. Everyone knows the furor this caused, and as Mary C. DeBattista of Wauwatosa notes, the furor is chiefly because it was based in dishonesty. He did not mention his plans at all during his campaign. Public employee collective bargaining in Wisconsin was a tradition here for a couple generations, and Scott Walker took tradition and threw it in the trash, and it is therefore unsurprising that protests and recalls were the result.
Well, Scott Walker’s doing it again, though this time there may not be such furor. Still, the evergreen in the Capitol Rotunda in Madison has been called a “Holiday Tree” for 25 years. Scott Walker has decided to rename it a “Christmas Tree” by fiat this year. There can be no interpretation of Walker’s act other than that it is an act of poking the people of Wisconsin in the eye once more. From the Racine Journal Times:
The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has opposed the term Christmas tree, saying it offends nonreligious people and amounts to a government endorsement of Christianity.
The president of that group, Annie Laurie Gaylor, called Walker’s decision rude and insensitive to non-Christians.
“The reason that it was turned into a holiday tree was to avoid this connotation that the governor chooses one religion over another,” she said. “It’s essentially a discourtesy by the governor to announce that. He intends that to be a slight and a snub to non-Christians, otherwise he would not do it.”
It should be noted that the Walker camp is downplaying the action, despite that they know it is purposely antagonizing to many Wisconsinites. Here’s their response:
Walker, in a press release, downplayed any potential controversy by simply referring to the decoration as a Christmas tree and not noting any change. His spokesman Cullen Werwie confirmed that the designation and change from past practices was intentional.
“It’s a Christmas tree,” Werwie said. “In all honesty, I don’t know what more to say about it.”
How cute of Cullen Werwie to pretend this is not an act of antagonism. To be honest, this isn’t a crucial issue, but it is another sign that Walker doesn’t care at all about the wishes of the people of Wisconsin, nor, evidently and especially, about people of faiths different from his own Christianity. Perhaps his calculus is that the War on Christmas is a good issue for him to run on as he faces a prospective recall election. So this is unsurprising, as it is yet one more instance of Scott Walker pitting Wisconsinite against Wisconsinite.
It’s about character. Scott Walker’s character is evidently all about creating divisions among the people of his own state. He did so quite effectively with the collective bargaining issue, angering tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens as he and the Fitzgerald boys villified state workers and teachers along the way. This action will probably not creaate a whole lot more anger, but it sure shows Walker’s character as a bully.