Friday, December 17, 2004

Charles on Christmas

Last night I attended a school Christmas concert with my 5 year old son and it was simply one of the most laughable affairs I've been to in a long time. The children sang songs concerning snow, winter, Hanukah, Kwanza, and "Holidays". No Christmas...nope....nothing. They wrapped up with what was once the traditional song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", but of course they did not sing Merry Christmas but: "We Wish You a Happy Holiday and A Happy New Year!" What a farce.

Charles Krauthammer expresses perfectly what I can not, as he dissects why people behave like fools at Christmas time, trying to embrace a holiday that celebrates the birth of our Lord and Saviour and avoiding the word "Christmas"....:
It is the more deracinated members of religious minorities, brought up largely ignorant of their own traditions, whose religious identity is so tenuous that they feel the need to be constantly on guard against displays of other religions -- and who think the solution to their predicament is to prevent the other guy from displaying his religion, rather than learning a bit about their own.

To insist that the overwhelming majority of this country stifle its religious impulses in public so that minorities can feel "comfortable" not only understandably enrages the majority but commits two sins. The first is profound ungenerosity toward a majority of fellow citizens who have shown such generosity of spirit toward minority religions.

The second is the sin of incomprehension -- a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, the United States does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.

America transcended the idea of mere toleration in 1790 in Washington's letter to the Newport synagogue, one of the lesser known glories of the Founding: "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights."

More than two centuries later, it is time that members of religious (and anti-religious) minorities, as full citizens of this miraculous republic, transcend something too: petty defensiveness.
Thanks Charles. As alway he should be read every Friday, top to bottom.