by Walter Brasch
The mythical War on Christmas is over and once again Christmas won.
The war was created out of fairy dust, and then neatly wrapped up and delivered to religious right-wing extremists by pretend-generals Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of dozens who have seized the public airways.
One of the battalion commanders is Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado. He introduced a resolution, which 35 other Republicans co-signed, that defends the holiday. That resolution calls for the House of Representatives to recognize “the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas,” to “strongly [disapprove] of attempts to ban references to Christmas; [and] expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.”
There are only two major problems with that bill.
First, it’s hard not to find Christmas. The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ends with a Santa Claus float to signal the beginning of Christmas season, even though Christmas sales begin about Halloween. Businesses make their greatest profits between Thanksgiving and Christmas by turning everything red and green. Homes and businesses throughout the country have Christmas lights, wreaths, and decorated Christmas trees. Several Christmas trees are even in the White House. Unlimited Christmas music fills the air and on radio. The media are overloaded by Christmas advertising and news. Every major TV network has a plethora of re-run Christmas shows, from the animated “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to four-star films “Miracle on 34th Street,” “White Christmas,” and It’s a Wonderful Life.”
There is no war. But the ignorant extremists believe if someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” that is an attack on Christmas. A few million Americans, led by the jingoistic “take-no-prisoners” right-wing media, defend the holiday by shouting, “Merry Christmas” at everyone from a homeless veteran to strangers at airports to store clerks to business executives; it’s a battle cry that rivals the Rebel Call of the 1860s. Jesus would first be appalled, and then laugh himself into tears at the hate shown by these sanctimonious self-indulgent holier-than-thou misguided souls.
Second, the First Amendment guarantees Americans not only the right to worship whoever and whatever they wish, whether it’s Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, atheism, or deism, the prevalent religion of many of the most notable Founding Fathers. Because of the First Amendment, you see hundreds of thousands of churches conducting services without government intervention. The First Amendment also guarantees the separation of church and state and prohibits the establishment of a state religion. That’s why you don’t see manger scenes in front of court houses and hear Christmas prayers at city council meetings. But you do see city workers putting festive lights and decorations on street lamps.
Nevertheless, in ignorance of what the Constitution dictates, the extreme evangelical right-wing, which doesn’t seem to respect any religion other than their own, load their canons of deceit every December to attack the ACLU for leading the War on Christmas. But, the ACLU—and numerous other national organizations—not only protect the First Amendment’s dictate against the establishment of a national religion, they also vigorously defend, often in court, the right of all citizens, including the extremists, not only to worship their own religions but also to proclaim “Merry Christmas” to whomever they wish.
The resolution that Rep. Lamborn introduced is itself unconstitutional. Rep. Lamborn—who took a mandatory law course while an undergraduate journalism major—and then many more in law school—should have known his proposed resolution is an infringement upon what the Founding Fathers wanted and believed. But, he is just playing to his audience—and not the Constitution.
His resolution, introduced two weeks ago, is buried in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. But, it will probably resurface 11 months from now. The conservative media and their followers regift this nonsense every December.
[Dr. Brasch, a Jew and an ACLU chapter officer who specializes in defending and protecting the First Amendment, celebrates all holidays, including Christmas, and respects all religions as well as those individuals who choose not to believe in any religion. He is the author of 20 books; the most recent one is Fracking Pennsylvania.]