GrassTopsUSA Exclusive CommentaryBy Don Feder 12-13-09
Yes, Virginia, there really is a war on Christmas, despite feeble attempts of the left to convince us that the controversy was concocted by Bill Oâ€™Reilly, FOX News and the dreaded Christian right.
That the war is real is incontrovertible. More interesting is the why.
An estimated 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas â€“ not Kwanza, winter solstice, Eid or Buddahâ€™s Birthday.
According to a November Rasmussen poll, when shopping, 72% of Americans favor the salutation â€œMerry Christmasâ€ to â€œHappy Holidays,â€ versus 22% who prefer the generic greeting. The Christmas camp (doubtless spurred by sinister, theocratic impulses) gained 4 percentage points from last year.
In a Rasmussen survey released on December 10, 76% of adults said itâ€™s okay to display religious symbols, like Nativity scenes and menorahs, in public settings (up 2 points from 2008). A paltry 11% disagree. Moreover, 83% believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays.
The foregoing hasn't made a dent in the militantly secular mindset.
Here are a few of the skirmishes in the 2009 War on Christmas:
â€¢ Michelle Zundel, principal of the Ashland, Ore. Elementary School (who had already exiled Christmas trees and Santa Claus), ordered the removal of the schoolâ€™s â€œholiday giving treeâ€ â€“ possibly for fear that it might cause some to wonder which holiday is connected with giving and trees. The non-inclusive tree was replaced by two snowmen. Zundel explained that a snowman is â€œcreated by children who play in the snow (for this she needed a PhD.?), and so it doesnâ€™t have a particular religious bentâ€ â€“ unless, itâ€™s wearing a yarmulke or carrying a cross.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear decreed that the decorated tree on the lawn of the state capitol should henceforth and forever more be a â€œholiday treeâ€ (which wouldnâ€™t pass muster in Ashland Ore.). Phone calls and e-mails to his office, prompted by the American Family Association, caused the governor to reverse his earlier decision, and re-christen (can I say that?) the conifer a Christmas Tree.
â€¢ Erik Brown, principal and grand inquisitor of the Waterbury, Connecticut Elementary School, ordered his staff to shun secular as well as religious symbols during its December 21 â€œwinter celebration.â€ Thus, Frosty the Snowman joins the baby Jesus in the janitorâ€™s closet. Brown claims the move brings the school into compliance with â€œa state law that schools canâ€™t knowingly exclude school children.â€ Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights notes that there is no such law in Connecticut. Donohue also points out some glaring contradictions: On the Waterbury School District Calendar, April 2 (a vacation day) is identified as â€œGood Fridayâ€ â€“ clearly excluding those for whom the day is not particularly good. Also, Christmas carols and Hanukah songs, as well â€œSanta Claus Is Coming to Town,â€ will be sung at the schoolâ€™s â€œwinter celebration day,â€ thereby knowingly excluding those who could care less whether the jolly old elf is en route, as well as those whoâ€™d rather sing odes to Allah.
â€¢ Howard County, Indiana has decided to replace the traditional manger scene on the lawn of the county courthouse with a lighted display of the Loch Ness monster and other beasts, real and imaginary. County Commissioner Tyler Moore pleaded, â€œIf we put religious or Christmas decorations up, weâ€™d be offending a whole other group of citizens and taxpayers.â€ Really? And who would they be? Iâ€™m sure Moore has no idea. But if someone â€“ anyone â€“ is outraged by a crÃ¨che, thatâ€™s reason enough to nix it. Never mind the taxpayers who are offended that the Loch Ness Monster (whose birth is not traditionally celebrated at this time of the year) is a stand-in for something relating to a holiday observed by 96% of the American people.
Amelia, Ore. cancelled its 29th annual Christmas parade. Chelmsford, Mass. has prohibited donations of candy canes, stockings and Santas to its annual gift sale. And, in a rare victory for sanity, the selectmen of North Andover, Mass will allow the townâ€™s fire department to display a â€œMerry Christmasâ€ sign, as it has for the past half-century, reversing an earlier decision.
The other side has a clever riposte to those who object to the foregoing: The War on Christmas is a hoax perpetrated by media hounds and paranoid, axe-grinding Christian fundamentalists.
Writing in The Grand Rapids Press, columnist Troy Reimink sneers: â€œsecular humanists (are) resuming their annual plot to dismantle the fabric of American society. Thatâ€™s right, the annual war on Christmas â€“ or, rather, people screaming into megaphones about what they imagine to be a war on Christmas â€“ is under way.â€
In the Chicago Sun Times, Joel Mathis charges that the War on Christmas is â€œa trumped up controversy to insert Bill Oâ€™Reilly and the American Family Association into the headlines.â€ Oâ€™Reilly and AFA President Tim Wildmon must be busy boys, zipping around the country, banning Christmas carols and creches, and magically transforming Christmas trees into Holiday hedges, all for the sake of publicity.
Speaking of the AFA campaign to get retailers to wish their customers a â€œMerry Christmas,â€ Mathis charges that â€œsome Christians are so insecure about their place in American culture that they are demanding the rest of the culture pander to them. Never mind that there are a whole host of holidays celebrated by Americans this time of the year: Hanukah, Kwanza, the winter solstice (no kidding)â€¦â€ and why canâ€™t we be more inclusive, dammit!
There are also Americans who celebrate Groundhog Day, Sadie Hawkins Day, Diwali and Ramadan-a dingdong -- and so what? Kwanza is a â€œholidayâ€ invented by an enterprising Afro-centrist in the 1960s. Hanukah is probably celebrated by 2% of Americans. How does one celebrate the â€œwinter solsticeâ€ anyway â€“ besides venerating a photo of Shirley MacLaine?
America was founded by Christians and grew to greatness inspired by a Judeo-Christian worldview. George Washington didnâ€™t play spin the dreidel (though he did write a famous letter of tolerance to the Jews of Newport, R.I.). The Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock didnâ€™t have their famous feast to celebrate the winter solstice.
For most of the 20th century, we had municipal Christmas trees, public displays of crÃ¨ches and Christmas greetings uttered in shops and stores â€“ and America was better for it.
Iâ€™m a Jew. I donâ€™t celebrate Christmas (though they tell me it commemorates the birthday of a Jewish kid). But Iâ€™m not offended by those who do, yea, even publicly. This is a Christian nation. Christianity is the glue that holds America together. As a patriot, I defend the public celebration of Christmas as a public good.
Does anyone in Israel object to municipal menorahs? Do they say, â€œOh the poor Moslems, they must feel so excludedâ€? Only in America.
America is the only nation that has made a fetish of sensitivity and inclusiveness. But weâ€™re very selective about that to which we are sensitive. We can have full-frontal nudity and simulated moaning and gasping on cable TV, but a manger scene on the courthouse lawn is an affront to decency.
We can have grade-school children indoctrinated in the more bizarre aspects of the homosexual lifestyle â€“ the president of the United States can tell a gay gathering that he longs for the day when two men or two women living together are treated exactly the same as mom and dad â€“ but Christmas carols are over the line.
Our seasonal sensitivity samba is due in part to hyper-concern for the sensibilities some, and in part to the fear of law suits. The ACLU is ever vigilant to lighted trees and other attempts to establish a national church, and ready to pounce.
But thereâ€™s another, darker motive. The War on Christmas is a War on Judeo-Christian morality is a War on America. Take our president â€“ please!
Obama was planning a â€œnon-religious Christmas,â€ White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers told a gathering of her predecessors earlier this month. That included not displaying the traditional manger scene with other Christmas decorations. The administration later reversed that decision, which apparently did not play well in Peoria.
At the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, Jeremiah Wrightâ€™s protegee told us that Christmas is no longer a religious holiday. Now, itâ€™s â€œa tradition that has come to represent more than any one holiday or religion.â€