Sh-h-h-h-h-h!!! Don't Say It!

John blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Wed Dec 22 17:59:27 MST 2004

        M**** C********, if you know what I mean
Kathleen Parker
December 22, 2004

Let me begin by saying, "Merry Christmas." And, by the way, "Merry
Christmas." Oh, and did I mention, "Merry Christmas"?

Let's just say the "Merry Christmas" backlash has officially
begun. After years of politically correct "Happy Holidays," and
the annual assault on all things Christian in the public square,
many Americans are declining to turn the other cheek.

The MC backlash isn't only for, by or about Christians. It is a
quintessentially American revolt against absurdity, the inevitable
result of narcissistic, nihilist ninnies pushing too far.

By now the list of complaints against Christmas and Christian
symbols is familiar, from prohibitions against nativity scenes on
public property to the banning of Christmas carols in public
schools. The nation's Capitol doesn't even have a Christmas tree
anymore; it's a "holiday tree."

Of course, certain religious expressions are fine. If a tribe of
Aqualishes wants to boil rhino horns in frog saliva on the
National Mall to honor their deity, we'd have a commemorative
postage stamp ready by next December. But let a Christian mention
the baby Jesus to a kindergarten class and the ACLU wants an

"Merry Christmas" means different things to different people,
obviously. To devout Christians, the greeting conveys a profound
spiritual connection to the seminal event in Western civilization.
To non-Christians, the words at worst evoke a season of music,
decorations, shopping and gift giving; at best, they bespeak a
vacation day.

Absent religious content, Merry Christmas otherwise is a universal
expression of our best stuff: charity, forgiveness, generosity and
hope. What's to complain about?

Oh, you know, people acting goofy under mistletoe, those
interminable Christmas carols. All those beautiful tacky trees and
fat Santas. Salvation Army bell ringers collecting coins for the
poor. Reindeer, snowmen, elves, nutcrackers, wreaths, colored
lights, parades, happy children, parties. A regular nightmare if
you're an Ebenezer.

Like perennially adolescent adults who rob teens of their right to
rebellion, the anti-Christmas brigands have even taken the fun out
of "Bah, humbug!" Who wants to be a curmudgeon when everybody's a
Scrooge? Clearly not Jews, an increasing number of whom are
leading the charge to defend Christmas.

In the past few days, two prominent Jewish commentators - Jeff
and Dennis Prager
- have written columns defending the traditions and spirit of

Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, wrote that he finds the
sights and sounds of Christmas reassuring: "They reaffirm the
importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so
exceptional - and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious
minority like mine."

Excuse me while I mumble, "Amen."

In a piece now circulating on the Internet, Irwin N. Graulich, a
Jewish ethicist and child of Holocaust survivors, wrote for the
Web site Israel Insider that public creches are beautiful sights
that mean "people have gone to the trouble of sharing lovely
visuals with all of America, expressing the beauty of their
heritage and its spiritual message to humanity."

If not for the marketing of Christian holidays, Graulich wrote,
"Chanukah would probably have gone the way of Shavuot, a more
significant Jewish holiday which few Jews celebrate because there
is no popular Christian holiday surrounding it."

This spirit of mutual respect and generosity is also finding
expression among Muslims. Waleed Aly, a lawyer in Melbourne,
Australia, and member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, has
written that he is more offended by efforts to restrain religious
expression than he is by nativity scenes.

"This is where political correctness loses the plot," he wrote.
"What purports to inspire tolerance instead inspires hostility and
intolerance....Denying the Christianity in Christmas or, worse,
doing away with it altogether helps no one. This is not
multi-culturalism. It is anti-culturalism."

Perhaps this yuletide backlash helps explain why I've been hearing
"Merry Christmas" more in the past two weeks than I have the past
10 years. Suddenly everybody's saying it, and yes, I'm a perp.
In Washington earlier this month, I made a point of saying "Merry
Christmas" to everyone, including cab drivers who were more often
than not Muslim or Hindu. Without exception, they swiveled around,
smiled and said, "Merry Christmas to you, too!"

Maybe it was just sugarplums doing the rumba in my head, but I
could swear I detected appreciation and relief in these exchanges.
Appreciation for the freedom that permits such expression and
relief that somebody said it without apology.

Christmas may not be for everyone, but the spirit of Christmas is
a non-discriminating, equal-opportunity messenger of goodwill. So
Merry Christmas, everybody, and don't smile.

©2004 Tribune Media Services

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