- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

Keeping Christmas

Anti-Christian bigotry is rising and becoming more evident this Christmas season (“Nativity scenes cause uproar,” Nation, Friday).

Some larger chain stores are succumbing to the anti-Christian sentiment of political correctness. I’ve noticed the decline of Nativity sets and other decorative items that symbolize the meaning of Christmas. At Top Food and Drugs you can find “holiday wrap,” and at Fred Meyers you can find “gift wrap,” but you do not find “Christmas wrap.” The designs of the wrapping paper are of the pagan and secular aspects that have commercialized Christmas over the last few decades. It is difficult to find designs that actually depict the true themes of the origin and meaning of Christmas.

Our schools remove Christ while promoting other religions. Our government is forced to deny traditions that have existed since before America was born. Minority groups seek to deny the display of the Christ child. They win by the majority’s failure to speak out in favor of our American heritage.

Commercialization was the common complaint, but now it is that the true meaning of Christmas is being ignored by the offerings of Christmas merchandise. Some say that to mention the real meaning of Christmas is to offend other religions. Nonsense. Christianity has contributed to the civilization and greatness of America.

Christmas is “Christ’s mass.” To remove Christ from the Christmas season offends American tradition. Denying American tradition offends the majority of Americans.

ROGER W HANCOCK

Auburn, Wash.

Joyce Howard Price’s bias shined through in “Nativity scenes causes uproar.” To take “Christ out of Christmas” is not the goal of those who defend the Constitution and the principle of church-state separation. The goal is for every citizen who enters a taxpayer-funded building to know — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that the state exists to serve all citizens, regardless of religious belief.

Every holiday season, some are willing to brush aside the First Amendment in their eagerness to inappropriately insert sectarian faith into public schools and spaces. The First Amendment does not elevate one religion above all others, but rather places all religions on a par with one another, and recognizes the equality of religion and non-religion. If we dismissed concerns over displaying a Nativity scene in an elementary school, we would open the door to topping government buildings with crosses or stars of David or statues of Buddha, depending on the whims of those with authority over the premises.

Christians do not need governmental help to keep Christ in Christmas, Jews do not need governmental support for their celebration of the Hanukkah miracle and pagans do not need governmental support for their winter rituals. The winter solstice should be a holiday season for all citizens to enjoy in their own way, and none should be made to feel as outsiders by unconstitutional sectarian governmental endorsements.

MEL LIPMAN

President

American Humanist Association

Las Vegas

Dean gets a bum rap

Wednesday’s Commentary column, “Dean campaign calamity,” suggesting that our joint victories in Afghanistan and Iraq trouble “those like” Howard Dean, and even suggesting that some “would rather see America lose,” is incendiary and irresponsible. Mr. Dean supported the war in Afghanistan as an appropriate response to the attack by, and continuing risk from, al Qaeda. Mr. Dean and his supporters, certainly would prefer (and indeed will insist) that America “win” in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the long term, as well.

This does not mean that the invasion of Iraq was in the strategic best interests of the United States. In fact, the invasion poisoned the position of the United States in world diplomatic circles, a status that already had been hobbled severely by Bush administration unilateralism and the consistent placement of political gamesmanship over long-term national strategic interests.

At the same time, the invasion of Iraq pulled resources from the war against al Qaeda and the real war on terror. Our avoidance of a final vote in the United Nations and our efforts to create a coalition by coercion stand as examples to the world that this administration has rejected the principles of international cooperation at a time when we most need such cooperation to effectively fight the war on terror. Furthermore, all sources seem to agree that the invasion of an Arab country that posed no immediate threat to the United States but happened to be oil-rich likely did wonders for the recruitment efforts of foreign terrorists.

At the same time, by acting unilaterally and against the will of the world and the avowed interests of many allies, the Bush administration may have crippled any real chance for a true win in Iraq — and compromised our position in Afghanistan as well.

A Bush administration policy that allows us to preserve the impression of “mission accomplished” only by the sustained commitment of military forces, while we remain isolated from diplomatic and world-endorsed political solutions to Iraq’s long-term stability, will not be a “win.”

On the road to Baghdad, President Bush brandished the big stick, but his administration lacked the focus to walk softly in its approach to the international community. Mr. Bush failed to create a coalition, perhaps because the world may have been right that the war was not necessary and should not have been undertaken when it clearly was not the last resort. Now that the administration has abandoned the soft walking of international diplomacy, the big stick — the United States’ ability to project the aura of invincibility around the world — may be lost as well.

Even the most impressive military in the world cannot maintain an occupation indefinitely. This is particularly true now that the current administration has allowed the United States to become politically and diplomatically isolated because of blundering and stilted diplomatic efforts that lack finesse and even a clear and consistent voice. There are large elements in the world that would like to see us fail. The insurgents in Iraq may well attempt to exploit that. The Bush administration helps them in that cause by pushing would-be allies to arm’s length.

Without the cooperation and increased aid of our allies and the world community, we simply cannot sustain the “long, hard slog” envisioned by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in Iraq without dramatically compromising our ability to control or meaningfully influence events elsewhere.

I think Mr. Dean and his supporters recognize this and intend to pursue a solution, not only as a prerequisite to victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also as the first step toward rebuilding America’s legacy as the world’s leading nation.

Rational Democrats and Republicans who support Mr. Dean have no interest in losing in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Dean approach would be to restore the diplomatic leadership role the United States constructed through 60 years of bipartisan commitment and to fit the Iraq problem into this framework. This would create a real opportunity for success on terms that would promote, rather than further erode, the long-term strategic interests of the United States. Only the credible expectation of international cooperation in achieving long-term security in Iraq will convince the insurgents that continued resistance is futile. The current administration cannot achieve this.

I support Mr. Dean for president specifically because I expect and demand that America win in Iraq and Afghanistan in the broader war on terror.

TIMOTHY KENNEDY

District of Columbia


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