Christmas is the time of year when families reconnect, fences are mended, and friends hang out and spread good cheer. Every year across the country, communities come together to light trees, have parades, decorate neighborhoods, and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Apparently, everywhere except California, that is, as Governor Gavin Newsom has made a controversial decision leading up to the annual Christmas tree lighting at the state capital in Sacramento.
The 92nd Annual California State Capitol Tree Lighting was set to be an in-person event on Wednesday in the capital of Sacramento. Instead, Newsom caved in the face of planned protests from pro-Palestinian groups supporting the Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Instead, there will be a pre-recorded virtual ceremony reminiscent of California during much of 2020 and 2021.
The California Highway Patrol reportedly barricaded the west lawn of the capitol where the tree is located to keep would-be protesters at bay. The event was intended to be a public display with local vendors and concert performances. Alas, it is not to be, as the state instead opted to hide behind closed doors and bow to protesters.
Newsom cited nationwide protests as the decision to tape the event. A spokesperson said: “As we continue to see protests across the country impacting the safety of events of all scales — and for the safety and security of all participating members and guests including children and families — the ceremony this year will be virtual. The program is unchanged and viewers can tune in Wednesday evening to watch this year’s festivities.”
According to the group responsible for forcing the cancellation of the festivities, their goal was to “out Gov. Gavin Newsom for hiding from the public because he doesn’t want to face their anger at his shameful stance in regard to the genocide in Gaza.” The decision predictably hasn’t been well received by California GOP members, and a number of them spoke out, criticizing the California Governor and potential 2024 Democrat challenger.
California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson compared Newsom to a famous green character known for stealing Christmas. She said: “Gavin Newsom still won’t condemn the pro-Hamas and antisemitic protests that shut down his own party’s recent convention, so it’s no surprise he’d prefer to hide from a tree lighting where he risked being confronted by more protesters. Newsom is a modern-day Grinch whose cowardice is punishing the public and small businesses who’d planned on celebrating this joyous occasion.”
It is unfortunate that families and local businesses have to suffer at the hands of political cowardice and extremist protesters. Like many towns, the Christmas season is key for so many locally-owned businesses. California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher said: “First Newsom was silent when terrorist sympathizers stormed his own party convention, and now he’s allowed pro-Hamas radicals to intimidate him into canceling an event that was supposed to spread a message of unity, joy and peace. It’s pathetic that he doesn’t have the spine to stand up to these extremists.”
It certainly is understandable to want to protect the public from extremist protesters. However, at some point, American values should be put first. Christmas revelers should not have to cower in fear because of protesters. Protesting is constitutionally protected, even for extremists, but the California Governor could have opted to display a show of strength with increased security and a zero-tolerance policy for violence and disorder. Instead, he cowered in the shadows and bent a knee to extremists. Certainly not a good look for a Governor with aspirations on the White House.
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