Monday, December 05, 2005


(This column will appear in the 12-8-05 THE ALBANY (GA.) JOURNAL)

(left) Bill O'Reilly scoops the nation with his disclosure of the ACLU's closet relationship with Dr. Seuss's Grinch

“The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought” - title of book featured on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News Channel.

“Christians have right to holiday” - Headline of December 5, 2005, unsigned editorial in The Albany Herald.

If you are an ordinary American over the age of 40, you’ve probably already noticed that Einstein’s theory of time and space needs a little tweaking. Starting on Labor Day, time speeds up from a leisurely walk to a slow jog. By Halloween, that jog has become a good bit faster, and from Thanksgiving to Christmas, time is sprinting and shopping days disappear faster than a cheeseburger within reach of Rush Limbaugh. But even so, most of us enjoy the holiday season as an opportunity to share food, presents, and football (the guys, anyway) in the company of our friends and family.

Although I am Jewish, I always appreciate the many friends and acquaintances who wish me a “Merry Christmas,” or, if they know my religion, a “Happy Chanukah.” And I have no compunctions about wishing them a Merry Christmas in return- it’s not a betrayal of my religious beliefs to wish my Christian friends good cheer on their sacred holiday.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I am one of the Grinches who stole Christmas from (the Herald says) the 77 percent of Americans who claim to be Christian:

“I believe -- and I could be wrong -- that most liberals are as angry about this as conservatives. It's the far left. It's the loony left, the Kool-Aid secular progressive ACLU America-haters. That's who's doing this.” Bill O’Reilly, interviewing War on Christmas author John Gibson during his “Christmas under Siege” segment on the O’Reilly Factor.

As a very liberal Jewish member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), I wasn’t sure if I should laugh at these absurdities or get angry at the vicious calumnies of the hypocritical hacks at Faux News. Plus, now I’m confused- how can I be both a secularist and a Jew? I guess if I practice my religion, but don’t want to use the government or large retail stores to impose my beliefs on others, as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and the rest of the rabble rousers want to do, I can be both.

And just for the record, the ACLU has absolutely nothing to do with the large retail chains which wish their shoppers “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and secular humanists are not the culprits who took the “Christ out of Xmas.” The ACLU could not care less what private store owners wish their customers during the run up to Christmas- it’s when politicians use their public offices to impose their religious beliefs on the unwilling that the ACLU acts to protect freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. And with rare exception, most large retail chains are owned by practicing Christians, not the almost mythical “secular humanist” heathens who draw the ire of O’Reilly, Hannity, and Limbaugh. If those privately owned stores want to say “Happy Holidays” so that they don’t alienate the 23 percent of their customers who aren’t Christians, then that’s not only smart business, it’s common courtesy.

However, unbowed by the dictates of logic or good taste, and unafraid to mix her metaphors, the comfortably anonymous author of the Albany Herald editorial wrote:

“Many Christians are fed up with what they see as the hijacking of their religious holiday by secularists who want the benefits of Christians’ ‘high holy day’... The situation is much like the naked emperor in that some secularists want Christmas to go on without acknowledging the fact it is a religious celebration.”

To her (or him) I say: get a grip. If you want to complain about something, at least find a real problem to address. Don’t write provocative fiction about secularists sabotaging Christmas to distract people from real life concerns that have a profound impact on their lives.

A reporter or pundit doesn’t have to go very far to find critical issues that affect many of us: we have now turned the corner in Iraq so often that if it were a house, we would have rounded it about 10 times. Regardless of statistics, the economy is scary: Delta is bleeding billions; GM is shutting down plants- including the Doraville facility- that have provided tens of thousands of jobs to hard working, blue collar Americans; and Merck is laying off thousands and closing plants (including Albany’s) as its more valuable patents expire. Health care is a mess and Georgia’s Republican Governor has managed to alienate every State government employee and most doctors by inflicting United Health Care on them. If the Herald and Faux News commentators want to editorialize about transgressions of large American corporations, they might consider that 100,000 recently pink slipped American workers would be very pleased to have paychecks with “Happy Holidays” greetings tucked inside.

Oh, and by the way. While the Herald’s editor was conjuring up visions of naked emperors instead of sugar plums, she might have said a few words about the gentleman in high office who made the following statements in public places:

"They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."

"Mr. Vice President, in all due respect, it is—I'm not sure 80 percent of the people get the death tax. I know this: 100 percent will get it if I'm the president."

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."


Post a Comment

<< Home