Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Tree Grows in Seattle

I couldn't have said it better myself . . . though I certainly tried in two previous posts. Below, is a commentary from by Lou Dobbs. I love it! It's fantastic! It's brilliant. It's snarkiness at its best!! Enjoy.

Dobbs: A tree grows in Seattle
POSTED: 3:01 p.m. EST, December 13, 2006

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Merry Christmas! That's right, Merry Christmas. Whether you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, pagan, barbarian or whatever, Merry Christmas!
It's what most of us say in this country come this time of year. It's about who we are, where we are and where we've been. And all the namby-pamby, little sensitive darlings among us who can't handle this verbal assault on their delicate senses should immediately begin seeking emergency psychiatric care.

This week we were treated to the spectacle of an easily offended and highly offensive rabbi who walked into an airport, gazed upon Christmas trees all around him and suddenly was overwhelmed with an immense, and apparently irresistible, urge to sue the management of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport because nowhere among all the Christmas trees was a single menorah. Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Seattle even delivered to the airport's management a draft of a lawsuit he would file if they didn't sprinkle menorahs around the Christmas trees.

Political correctness in this country reached an entirely new level of absurdity some years ago. But occasionally, and the situation at Sea-Tac is just such an occasion, we exceed ourselves. The militant fundamentalist rabbi so flummoxed Sea-Tac management with his threat and their perceived obligation to be "politically correct" that, rather than think rationally or simply tell him to stuff it, they started hacking away at all those artificial Christmas trees and quickly descended into a public relations nightmare in which they managed to offend reason, cultural values and the vast majority of Americans.

As CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told me, "The Supreme Court has held since 1984, the famous 'Reindeer Rule,' that if a symbol of Christmas is mostly secular, like a reindeer or a Christmas tree or Santa Claus, that is not a violation of the separation of church and state."
The irony that escaped the rabid rabbi and the timid Sea-Tac management team is that the Christmas tree's likely origin dates back to pre-Christian pagan cultures. The Christmas tree is not by any means a religious symbol, and when we're honest about it, the tree's become a purely commercial symbol more closely associated with shopping, roasting chestnuts and guzzling eggnog than a nativity scene with baby Jesus.

And hang on, Christians, because you're in 21st Century America, and our culture celebrates your holiest day of the year with such insensitive gusto that our economy would suffer a serious setback if your religious sensibilities were as easily offended as those of the litigious rabbi.
More than 140 million shoppers spent an average of about $360 on Black Friday alone, the day after Thanksgiving and the unofficial kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation. And all those Christmas shoppers are expected to spend nearly a half-trillion dollars this shopping season.

Now if I were a fundamentalist Christian, that might strike me as a little politically incorrect. And I think all of you folks should think about suing somebody. You know, get in the spirit of the season.

This mindless movement of political correctness at all costs is one of the most un-American and crazy twists in our culture as anything we've witnessed. Remember, we're Americans, and we have freedom of speech, that whole life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness thing. Or at least we did.

And I hope you'll celebrate the Christmas season by offending someone. If you're Jewish, how about a hearty "Happy Hanukkah" to a good Christian? If they're offended you've revealed a fool, not such a good Christian and someone you shouldn't waste your expression of good will upon. But get ready for a few robust "Merry Christmas" calls to be thrown your way as well.
The operators of the Seattle-Tacoma airport quickly righted a potentially dreadful wrong. The rabbi decided not to file a suit, Christmas trees have sprung back up throughout the concourse, and no, not a single menorah has been spotted. I can only hope this is the beginning of a major movement in America, one that regards thinking as paramount to phony feelings and heightened self-centered sensitivities. Common sense and judgment should always reign supreme over political correctness, no matter what the current trend.

And, my gosh, even Wal-Mart this year has abandoned its generic, politically correct "Happy
Holidays" greeting in favor of "Merry Christmas." I'm starting to think this may be the season to be jolly after all. Ho, ho, ho.

To all, a Merry Christmas. OK, and a Happy Hanukkah, too.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December 12, 2006

Damn, give a situation a little time, and it resolves itself. The Christmas tree – at least for this year – no longer hangs in the balance. See below story!

SEATAC, Washington (AP) -- Christmas trees are going back up at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Pat Davis, president of the Port of Seattle commission, which directs airport operations, said late Monday that maintenance staff would restore the 14 plastic holiday trees, festooned with red ribbons and bows, that were removed over the weekend because of a rabbi's complaint that holiday decor did not include a menorah.

Airport managers believed that if they allowed the addition of an 8-foot-tall menorah to the display, as Seattle Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky had requested, they would also have to display symbols of other religions and cultures, which was not something airport workers had time for during the busiest travel season of the year, Airport Director Mark Reis said earlier Monday.

Port officials received word Monday afternoon that Bogomilsky's organization would not file a lawsuit at this time to seek the placement of a menorah, Davis said in a statement.
"Given that, the holiday trees will be replaced as quickly as possible," he said.
Davis added that the rabbi "never asked us to remove the trees; it was the port's decision based on what we knew at the time."

There were no immediate plans to display a menorah, airport spokesman Bob Parker said, saying restoration of the trees was expected to take place overnight Monday.
"A key element in moving forward will be to work with the rabbi and other members of the community to develop a plan for next year's holiday decorations at the airport," the port statement said.

The rabbi has also offered to give the port an electric menorah to display, said his lawyer, Harvey Grad. "We are not going to be the instrument by which the port holds Christmas hostage," Grad said, emphasizing the rabbi never sought removal of the trees, but addition of the menorah. The rabbi had received "all kinds of calls and emails," many of them "odious," Grad said, adding he was "trying to figure out how this is consistent with the spirit of Christmas."

Thirteen trees had sat above foyers that lead outside to the airport drive. The largest tree, which Reis estimated to be 15 or 20 feet tall, was placed in a large lobby near baggage claim for international arrivals.

After the removal, some airline workers decorated ticketing counters with their own miniature Christmas trees.

Customer service agents with Frontier Airlines pooled their money Monday morning to buy four 1-foot-high Christmas trees, which they placed on the airline's ticketing counter. Atop a Delta counter, workers put up a tree several feet tall.

The airlines lease space for ticket counters from the airport, and can display trees there if they want, Reis said. ( - 12/12/2006)

It appears that the human spirit, the desire to protect the beleaguered Christmas tree, to bring it back out into the light for people to see, is stronger than I originally thought. Perhaps even more moving is the fact that, in protest of the shabby treatment of the Christmas trees at the Seattle airport, airline employees fought back in their own way. Bravo to the human spirit!!!

In the end, no matter a persons beliefs – Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Paganism, etc. – the Christmas tree is a just a tree. It is not a weapon to beat down other religions. It is a memory of childhood, of lying beneath the tree and looking up at all of the lights. It is a memory of scuffling across the carpet in sock feet, stopping in front of the tree, and tentatively reaching out with one finger – waiting, knowing – and watching that single, silvery strand of tinsel leap out to give a slight (sometimes big) electric shock. It is the memory of the smell (before artificial trees) of pine filling the room. It is so many things, and yet today, in 2006, the Christmas tree has become far more than it ever should. It is not an object to fight over, or sue over, or to demand it bear a different name to reflect a multi-cultural society. It is not a Hanukah bush, or a Kwanza tree. It is not a holiday tree. It is a Christmas tree and it should be allowed to remain just that, for time immemorial.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good life!!!

Who will defend the Christmas tree?

December 11, 2006

Why do Christmas trees threaten people? They have been around for centuries, part of various cultures for centuries, and yet in recent years it seems that Christmas trees are under attack! Why? What has a poor Christmas tree ever done to somebody? Have they committed murder? Have they robbed a bank? Have they abused a child? Have they run for political office and made promises they were not ever going to keep? No!

Yet, the poor, beleaguered Christmas tree is under attack again, this time by a Rabbi in Seattle, Washington. Now, after years of faithful service to the Seattle Airport, nine, loyal trees have had their lights dimmed, their decorations hidden away in some dark and dank storage unit, and been put away in their boxes, possible to never see the light of day again. This did not happen in the light of day, but in the wee hours of night, with few people around to witness one more step in the eradication of the life of the Christmas tree! It was as if the trees were horrible criminals, shunted away in the dark of night, a hint of communism suddenly in the United States. Christmas trees beware, your days are numbered!

There is an old saying: you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

The Christmas tree is a perfect example of this. I mean, once upon a time, it was just a simple tree. It lived its life in the forest, home to birds and squirrels, its falling needles nourishment for the ground. Then, one day, so far back that no one truly remembers when, someone began to decorate the trees and called it a Christmas tree. For centuries, it lived up to this domestic abuse by the humans who willing cut it down to build shelter or provide warmth for their families. It suffered the indignities of having lights strung through it, tinsel wrapped around it, and a lack of water so severe that its needles fell off and remained forever in the carpets of millions of houses worldwide. Then, at the end of the season, it was tossed to the curb without a second thought, some tinsel still remaining to flutter in an icy wind. Oh, the indignities suffered by the Christmas tree, and yet it never complained. It never spoke out and said, “Hey, do you mind, I’m pretty comfortable out here in the wild, with the sun shining down and the wind in my boughs. I’d rather you not chop me with an axe or cut me with a saw. Yes, I know, it gets cold out here, and dry in the heat of summer, but it’s a life, and not a bad one at that.” No, the Christmas tree suffered in silence and bore the decorations of generations. The Christmas tree stood tall and proud in Rockefeller Center, in the White House, in businesses and airports, in banks and grocery stores, and in homes both small and large. It did not ask for the honor, but accepted it none-the-less.

Now, in a multi-cultural society, the tree once again fears for its safety. It does not fear the bite of the axe or chainsaw, or the possibility of drying out, or the ravages of wildfires set by humanity’s carelessness. No, it fears a society that sees the Christmas tree as a threat to their beliefs.

In 2005, a movement (and yes, equivalent to some other stinky movement, I think) began to have the Christmas tree called a Holiday Tree to embrace all cultures. Now, a Rabbi in Seattle protests and nine trimmed trees suddenly find themselves shipped off to storage. Isn’t it about time that humanity gave the poor Christmas tree a break? Why should the Christmas tree have to change its name? Why should the Christmas trees in the Seattle Airport have to be removed in the wee hours of night with few people around? Why can’t we all just leave the poor Christmas tree alone? It is just a tree after all; a pine tree really, that once a year takes on a different name: Christmas tree. It is not a Holiday Tree, because it does not celebrate all Holidays, just one holiday – Christmas. And yet this grand tradition teeters on the edge of a great chasm.

It is not too late, to save the poor Christmas tree.

One voice – a Rabbi in Seattle – decided the fate of nine Christmas trees. Please be aware, the Rabbi did not make the decision to spirit the trees away, but his actions alone caused the airport authorities to make the decision.

A time of indecision is upon the world, upon the lives of Christmas trees everywhere. If we, the loyal followers of the Christmas tree, do not do something, then who will? The Christmas tree cannot speak for itself. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? If nine trees are spirited away in the night, with no one to see, has it really happened? If other business across the land fail to put up Christmas trees next year, did Christmas trees ever really exist?
I do not know the answers to those questions, but I know that the idea of a Christmas tree hangs in the balance.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Unconsionable - Mary Cheney is Pregnant

Mary Cheney is pregnant. The Conservative firestorm has begun.

Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America calls the pregnancy “unconscionable”. I firmly believe that Janice Crouse’s statement is “unconscionable.” What right does she have to decide whether a pregnancy is conscionable or unconscionable? What right does she have to be part of a group that promotes allegedly narrow-minded thinking and outright discrimination against other humans? I really do not have the answers to those questions. Janice Crouse, and others like her, have the right of free speech, and she does have the money behind her of other allegedly narrow-minded people so that her voice (not necessarily a wise voice) is heard over the voices of others.

Janice Crouse also made the following statement: It’s very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father.

Why? My sister raised her two children on her own after her husband left her. They grew up just fine without a father. He was a peripheral presence in their lives. My sister taught my nephews about love, respect, the difference between right and wrong, and the acceptance of responsibility. She did a fine job. Both my nephews are currently on the road to serving our country. My own father was a peripheral presence in my life. My mother taught my siblings and me the same thing my sister taught her children. My mother raised us, not my father. He worked for a living. He provided the home. He was a distant figure in our lives. He was not integral to who we each became as adults. A father is not a necessary figure in a child’s life. A mother is not a necessary figure in a child’s life. Love is the necessary figure. Has Janice Crouse considered the fact that some fathers physically abuse their children? Has she considered the fact that some father’s sexually abuse their children? Has she considered the fact that some mothers do the same thing? I really do not think so. Her statement appears biased, and based on limited information, rather than factual information.

The thing that bothers me most about Janice Crouse’s statements, and other individuals like her, is the fact that they willingly discriminate against people. Consistently, the conservatives deny equality to people. Consistently, Janice Crouse and other like-minded individuals, feel that their views should take precedence over the views of others. It is the year 2006, and yet we might as well be in the 1800s when women had few, if any rights, African Americans were fourth-class citizens, and the idea of equal rights was nothing but a dim illusion not likely to happen any time soon.

Discrimination is wrong, no matter how you color it, and no matter how a person justifies the discrimination. Mary Cheney and her partner have just as much right to have a baby, as Janice Crouse, as any Conservative, and as any human does. To call a pregnancy ‘unconscionable’ is a matter of free choice, but to promote discrimination, to promote the denial of equality, is the truly unconscionable act.