Friday, December 23, 2016

Liam Stack of The New York Times Is Wrong -- War on Christmas Predates 2005

In his New York Times article, "How the 'War on Christmas' Controversy Was Created" (Dec 16, 2016), Liam Stack writes:

The most organized attack on Christmas came from the Puritans, who banned celebrations of the holiday in the 17th century because it did not accord with their interpretation of the Bible.

Fast forward 400 years, and the idea of a plot against Christmas gained wide publicity when Fox News promoted a 2005 book by a radio host, John Gibson, that alleged liberal antagonism toward the holiday, according to Dan Cassino, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Well, no. The current War on Christmas extends much further back than 2005. As reported in the Hollywood Investigator article, "Holiday Wars Highlight Need for School Choice" (Nov 16, 2006):

On May 20, 1998, Catholic League president William Donahue testified before the US Civil Rights Commission that in "Manhattan Beach, California, a public school removed a Christmas tree from school property after a rabbi objected that the tree was a religious symbol; however, the school allowed the display of a Star of David. ... in Mahopac, New York, Boy Scout students were barred from selling holiday wreaths at a fundraiser, even though a wreath is a secular symbol; Hanukkah gifts, however, were allowed to be sold at the school's own fundraiser."

Yet government does not consistently regard Jewish symbols as secular. Donahue adds, "I confronted an attorney for New York City Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew regarding the practice of banning crèches in the schools while allowing menorahs. At first, she cited the 1989 County of Allegheny v. ACLU decision to buttress her case, but when I pointed out that that decision undermined her case -- making the argument that the high court declared a menorah to be a religious symbol, not a secular one -- she quickly retreated. Such ignorance strikes me as willful."

Donahue's above examples will discomfort some people, as it highlights the different ways that Hanukkah and Christmas are treated. Hanukkah's religious aspects are respected. Christmas is "sanitized" of religious overtones. Christmas is deemed offensive because not everyone celebrates it. Hanukkah (and Kwanzaa, and Yuletide, and Ramadan, etc.) are to be respected even if only one person celebrates it, in the interests of diversity.

Our modern concept of diversity includes and tolerates everyone except the Christian majority, whose very presence is deemed offensive.

This is, of course, one of the major reasons for Donald Trump's recent presidential victory. Whites, Christians, straights, and men have felt increasingly disrespected in their own country. It's not that they're opposed to diversity and tolerance. It's that they feel that this New Diversity has no Tolerance for them.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Mr. Stack correctly recognizes the link between the War on Christmas and Trump's victory -- as does Trump himself. Stack writes:

The idea of a "War on Christmas" has turned things like holiday greetings and decorations into potentially divisive political statements. People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like "Happy Holidays" as (liberal) insults to Christianity.

For over a decade, these debates have taken place mainly on conservative talk radio and cable programs. But this year they also burst onto a much grander stage: the presidential election.

At a rally in Wisconsin last week, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a line of Christmas trees and repeated a campaign-trail staple.

"When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say 'Merry Christmas' again," he said. "Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas."

Yes, Mr. Stack, Trump gets it. Christians demand to be treated with respect -- to be regarded as a vibrant and visible part of America's diversity, the same as any other group.


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