By reading the local press we can see that the annual debate about what to call certain trees that are now being adorned in all manner of ribbons and glitter has been revived and is certainly becoming as much a Christmas tradition as eggnog. In yet another letter (Carl makes me look like a slacker), the legendary Flemington letter writer, Carl Kettler, last week dressed down the Boro council for referring to the parade here last week as the “holiday” parade instead of the Christmas parade. Not the council’s doing as I understand it. But I digress….
For decades Americans said “Merry Christmas” and called these noble evergreens, Christmas trees. No one seemed offended. But as of late there is a vocal minority in America that insists its views should upstage the years of the tradition and wishes of the majority. In political philosophy this is referred to as the tyranny of the minority. Is it? I think it is a new- found tyranny. Somehow a small group of Americans have gotten it into their heads that any public expression of religion, no matter how benign, is offensive to those who do not embrace a religious creed. And furthermore a number of Christians, being Christians and not wanting to offend, are now intimidated out of expressing the joy of the Christmas season and defer to the repression as if they should not express their faith but publicly disavow it. So we hear the newly popular phrase, “Happy Holidays” replacing “Merry Christmas”. We have holiday trees and holiday parades and holiday whatever. Then Christians, adapting to these so-called new sensitivities, believe themselves not being oppressed, but enlightened. I personally do not care if people walk around all day saying “Bah, Humbug!” if that’s what they want to say. The point is that as Americans we are free to say what we want. The First Amendment not only prohibits the establishment of a state religion, IT SAFEGUARDS THE FREE EXPRESSION OF RELIGION. It is not appropriate for those who do not embrace a faith to socially coerce others to disavow theirs. No Founder promised anyone that they would never see or hear about a religion as a part of the separation of church and state. No American has the right to such an expectation. This social coercion to suppress the expression of Christmas is a violation of the First Amendment, which certain persons seem to think only includes the Establishment Clause and at best, in this case, is misapplied. It seems to me that if the First Amendment is gracious enough to permit porn and smut and Americans are willing to live with that, the First Amendment can spare a little latitude for the word ”Christmas” and Americans should be willing to live with that.
Think of how offensive it would be to our Jewish brethren and their heritage if we started to refer to the Menorah now being lit nightly as it stands next the Christmas tree at the War Memorial as the holiday candelabra.
BTW- Happy Hanukkah!