- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 2004

There’s a war gathering against the secular grinches who are trying to steal Christmas from the Christians, and you might be surprised by who’s in the ranks of the righteous soldiers of the Lord.

A lot of them are Jews.

The relentless assault on reason, manners and common sense in the campaign to transform the celebration of the birth of Christ into something as inoffensive as a feast day for spinster Druid schoolteachers led this year to merchants, lawyers, judges, school administrators and assorted other Nervous Nellies, mostly Christians, turning themselves into extra-crispy unsalted holiday pretzels to avoid offending the grinches, crabs, sourballs and others of what the sociologists call “societal misfits.”

Managers at Macy’s, the famous Manhattan dry goods emporium whose Thanksgiving Day parade was organized 75 years ago to ignite the Christmas shopping season, told its clerks to avoid wishing shoppers, all with credit cards at the ready, a “Merry Christmas.” The perpetually frightened Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, who lapses into hysteria at the sight of a cigarette butt, insists on calling the municipal Christmas tree a “holiday tree.” Rep. Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, the old rassling coach who may be imbibing more than his share of liniment at Capitol Hill “seasonal parties,” calls the national Christmas tree on the Mall in Washington a “holiday tree,” too. A school administrator in New Hampshire sends a 12-year-old boy home to change into something more “sensitive” when he shows up at a Christmas party in a Santa Claus suit. (A bra and a G-string, perhaps?) Even red and green sweaters — the traditional colors of Christmas — are verboten at some Christmas parties. (We must avoid speaking English if we want to be truly multicultural.) The sounds of “Silent Night, Holy Night” in a public place send regiments of otherwise unemployed lawyers scrambling to bomb the innocents with assorted writs and torts. A publisher of greetings cards apologizes for his insensitivity when someone objects to “Chrismukkah cards” for interfaith couples to send to Christian and Jewish friends. “Our intention wasn’t to merge the religious aspects,” he says meekly, “but rather the secular aspects of the holidays.”

“But that’s the whole problem,” says Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg of Baltimore’s Congregation Beth Tfolih. “Channukah is not a secular holiday, and neither is Christmas. Christmas deserves to be celebrated by Christians for what it is: a religious holiday, not a secular one. And it deserves to be observed as a religious holiday, not a secular one.”

Jackie Mason, the acerbic Jewish comedian who cuts to the bone (when he can find one) with an exceedingly sharp knife, makes a similar point. “Personally, we like Christmas carols,” he writes in the American Spectator with Raoul Felder, a lawyer. “Especially sung by Bing Crosby. … We cannot see how our beliefs are jeopardized by someone else celebrating their beliefs — particularly if the celebrations are those consisting, at least in part, of love, family, values, spirituality, and giving thought to the less fortunate.”

He notes that the heavy artillery against Christmas is usually wheeled out by the American Civil Liberties Union, widely perceived as ferociously liberal and mostly Jewish. “We would have a very fragile religion if 2,000 years of our culture and beliefs were threatened by Bing Crosby singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” (incidentally, written by a Jew), Santa Claus, and mistletoe. Now, if it were the KKK celebrating their holiday by exchanging presents of bedsheets or singing carols beside burning crosses, or the Romans tossing another Jew on the Yule log, or the Ghost of Christmas Past turning out to be Yasser Arafat in a Santa Claus suit, it would be another story. But until then, hand us the checkbooks and turn up Bing Crosby.”

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, thinks the hysterical secularists may have been overcome by the scent of sawdust in the air. “Those who are so opposed to [Christmas] feel the tide is turning now, once again, against them,” he tells a Fox News interviewer. “I believe there is a real religious revival in our country. Not just of Christianity, not just of traditional religions, but of people who really believe in God.”

This is always a tough time of the year for the disrespectful, the irreligious and the irreverent, for whom aggressive faithlessness is never easy. Believing in nothing is particularly difficult in the season of the joyous celebration of the greatest of all mysteries, by those who listened when that wee small voice admonished them to “get a life.”

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

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