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Cancel culture hits Rockefeller Christmas tree for 'American exceptionalism' and its 'toxic relationship' with nature
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Cancel culture hits Rockefeller Christmas tree for 'American exceptionalism' and its 'toxic relationship' with nature

Bah humbug

A member of the Columbia University faculty is calling to "cancel" the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree for its apparently offensive tradition.

What are the details?

As reported by Campus Reform, faculty member and environmental journalist Brian Kahn said that the tree — which has been annually erected since 1931 — causes a "toxic relationship" with nature.

In an article published on Gizmodo titled "Cancel the Rockefeller Christmas Tree for Good," Kahn says that cutting down a tree on a yearly basis — which he says is a "veritable island for wildlife" — should come to an abrupt halt.

Last week, an owl was discovered inside the tree, which was transported more than 170 miles from Oneonta, New York, to New York City's Rockefeller Center.

Instead of taking the news of the owl discovery in a positive stride, Kahn argued that it was a miracle the bird wasn't crushed during the cutting of the tree or the transportation process.

"In its previous home ... [the tree] had an iota of dignity lost completely once it was transported to Midtown Manhattan," Kahn argued.

He also insisted that the Rockefeller tree is nothing more than another "icon of American exceptionalism."

"The Rockefeller tree is an icon of American exceptionalism," Kahn wrote. "Its story has humble roots in the Great Depression when workers building Rockefeller Center decorated a tree as a pick-me-up for a beleaguered city. It has since morphed into a made-for-TV spectacle to sell ads against and draw onlookers, wowed by a towering Norway spruce set at the center of the beating, concrete-and-steel heart of capitalism."

He also added that the owl's very presence highlights Americans' "toxic relationship with nature."

"The Northern saw-whet owl is currently considered a low-concern species due to human pressures and has even managed to carve a niche out in human landscapes (clearly)," Kahn explained. "But the climate crisis fueled by unending growth and fossil fuels will eventually come for it, too."

Kahn explained that he's fully aware that his missive might be ill-received — especially during a time when the country needs hope the most — but he doesn't care.

"I know I'll likely receive many a furious email cussing me out for being a tree hugger perpetrating the war on Christmas and a total killjoy," he admitted. "But my point isn't that we should end joy and piss on Santa. It's that now is the perfect moment to consider what we truly value. When I saw the Rockefeller Center tree propped up as it shed entire boughs to the cold plaza ground this year, I felt no elation. I just felt sad that we venerate the continued subjugation of nature at the expense of unfettered growth and consumption — or even simply because we, like those who suffered through the Great Depression, want to feel something like normal again."

"There is poetry in the notion that we could take this tradition, born in the shadow of the Great Depression, and end it for the right reasons in the midst of a new generation-defining catastrophe," he concluded. "We have, in this uniquely horrible moment, the opportunity to look beyond simply what makes us feel good and normal to what we can do to make our future normal truly good."

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