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December 20, 2006

Have yourself a scary little Christmas

Sashacohen Two recent news stories suggest that some are greeting Christmas with more fear than merriment, as visions of lawsuits dance in their heads.

1. As you may have heard, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport received a request from a Jewish group to include a menorah with their holiday decorations. The airport responded -- of course! -- by taking down all their Christmas trees. The Jewish group had never asked for this, and lost no time in pointing that out. The trees are now back, but heads are still being scratched over what led the airport to be so skittish. The New York Times gives us a clue, however:

[Airport director Mark] Mr. Reis said he rejected the idea because the airport had long ago revised its holiday display to be what he called secular.

“It’s just lights and snowflakes,” he said, and “holiday trees.”

Adding a menorah could mean having to add symbols of other religions, and that could give the display unintended religious meaning, he said.

Oh, okay, that makes perfect sense. Heaven forbid we should be religious about two religious holidays. Better to just wipe out all references to them altogether. Personally, I prefer this quote from Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, via To the Source: "At the end of the day, it's not about the trees, but adding light to the holiday, not diminishing any light." Well said, Rabbi. (Incidentally, he and his attorneys now say, according to TTS, that "[their] letter, with its mention of a lawsuit, was a mistake. They had intended it as a spur to some kind of decision [about adding a menorah], which the Port Commission had postponed for months.")

2. Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen (one of my favorite figure skaters, as some of my readers know), had just performed at an event in Riverside, California, and was signing autographs when a local student choir began singing Christmas carols. They were promptly approached by the mayor -- with police -- and ordered to stop lest they offend the half-Jewish Cohen.

Mayor Loveridge had better hope for hearing aids under the Christmas tree this year, because apparently it entirely escaped his notice that Cohen herself had just wished the crowd "Merry Christmas." (Cohen was, according to her mother, "stunned" when she heard what had happened. Although perhaps in a world where journalists are capable of coming up with terms like "half-Christian," we shouldn't be surprised that elected officials are incapable of logical thought.)

Looks like the ACLU has done its job but good. Even when it's not in the picture, its pattern of suing everyone in sight during the most wonderful time of the year has got people completely paranoid. Perhaps we're due for another visit from a Christmas angel to remind us that this is supposed to be the season when we "fear not."

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