Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Because That's What They Are....

As we enter the season best known for promulgating many an idealistic nicety including, but not limited to "peace on earth" and "goodwill" and "joy" and whatnot, I am somehow not at all surprised to learn that we have found a way to continue to ruin everything -- even the holiday season -- by insisting on political correctness to a degree of complete insanity. I am referring to the continuing slew of recent articles in local and national newspapers, concerning, legal battles over the word "Christmas".

Look, I call mid-Dec to early January the "holiday season" not because I'd be offended if specified Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or the month of Bodhi, but because I recognize that different people do different things this time of year. I'm OK with that. I grew up knowing and celebrating this way. I like it. And even now, as a Christian…Yes I know that's a vile word to some of you, huh? Well, to pre-empt the inevitable emails about this confession, I'd like to make it clear that I'm of the "golden rule" variety, and am not big on the "fire-and-brimstone" mentality, so take it easy, OK?. I observe more than one religion's celebration during this season with my diverse multitude of friends and family. I have decorated an admittedly pagan Christmas tree and sung carols about a baby born of a virgin in a manager and have lit the Menorah, too. Somehow I seem to navigate this apparent conflict of interest rather smoothly and with no objections from my conscience.

Granted, I'm in the majority 76.5 percent of Americans who claim to be Christian, which probably gives me a slanted perspective, as someone else's savior isn't being sung about in every mall I go to. I'll give you that. But really, that's not the issue here.

What I'm not cool with are people fighting major legal battles involving everyone from minimum-wage workers to worldwide corporations over some semantic bullshit like what we call those trees we stand in our living rooms and town squares and decorate with lights and balls and garlands to announce the arrival of the *whatever* season.

I am even more not OK with credible news sources wasting ink and airtime on this crap. I'm not ignorant about the news business, and as each day goes by I am more and more disheartened by the steaming piles of bullshit our journalists report on. TV is the WORST. Don't even get me started, because then we have to discuss why they're reporting it…which is a complex, painful, other topic…. which is because it's newsworthy. You might object, but according to most standards, "newsworthy" it is: it's gotten lots of folks riled up and it's actually happening and there's lots of money and corporations and organizations involved and it's relevant to the season.

I saw a commentary that Ben Stein did several years back on the CBS Sunday Morning Show and it pretty much sums up my feelings on this whole thing… He may appear to be completely dull on the surface but the man comes up with some gold nuggets…
“I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.”

Thank you Mr. Stein for those words of wisdom …and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah….to the rest of you that find it offensive…bite me.