Wednesday, December 15, 2004


An email from someone who did not see the joke

I'm Aaron Michels, the Vice President of the UWSP College Republicans. Thank you to all who are helping to publicize this issue at our campus. I originally brought up this issue and wanted to pursue it much more aggressively from the outset, but unfortunately most of the CRs did not share my enthusiasm. I'm very happy this is finally getting the attention I feel it deserves. I've attached a letter to the editor I wrote which appeared in the next week's school paper, and was the first criticism of the Rothfuss column. The original letter asked for an apology from Rothfuss, on behalf of the CRs. When Rothfuss saw the letter he came to our meeting the night before it was to appear in the school paper to try to convince the group not to run the letter and not to make an issue out of his column. I'm convinced he was afraid of the consequences of what would happen if we pressed the issue, but he put up a good front and convinced most of the CRs that this was a fight we didn't want. Among other things he told us if he was forced to apologize it would look like "the Gestapo" coming down on him and on our leftist campus he could use his column to make fun of us "until your ears bleed." What a delightful use of his authority status. At this time, the majority of the CRs decided we didn't want to raise controversy and shouldn't run the letter. After getting Rothfuss to leave the room I managed to persuade most of the CRs to run the letter - minus the apology request. I was extremely unhappy I had to retract the apology request, but as an officer I was obligated to honor the wishes of the majority of the group. Anyhow, that's some background on why I retracted the apology request. Again, I'm very grateful you're helping to publicize this issue. Thank you.


In some parts

California jumped into the yearly fray over why Christmas symbols and carols get banned from schools and other public places when that well- known religious radical, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, pointedly called the state's official "holiday" tree its "Christmas" tree. Schwarzenegger is a (shudder) Catholic. His spokesman tells me, "Well, it is a Christmas tree. ...But somebody did ask us whether the governor misspoke. " Former Gov. Gray Davis had bowed to special-interest groups, dubbing the huge conifer a "holiday tree."

Arnold's audaciousness was preceded by the shocking actions of that well- known right-wing nut, California first lady Maria Shriver. Shriver went to Washington Elementary School in Sacramento to share a set of books. According to a reporter, Shriver held up one book and said to the children, "This is a book called 'What's Heaven,' then pointed to a photo of herself on the back cover and noted, 'That's me. I look younger.' " Shriver mentioned heaven at a school? Good grief! Later on, "a discussion followed about whether or not Santa Claus is real. 'That's a good conversation for you to have with your parents or your grandparents,' Shriver said." A discussion of Santa ensued in a public school? Obviously, the Schwarzenegger-Shriver clan is blissfully unaware of the raging effort each December to rid schools and public spots of people exactly like them.

In recent years, various California schools have banned the hideous "Silent Night" (in Sacramento's San Juan School District), banned "Jingle Bells" because of offensive religiousness (in Fresno, where outraged parents quickly overturned the ban) and removed red-and-green lights that were seen as a "provocation" (in a Newport Beach school). One pundit questioned whether upscale Newport Beach should also take down traffic signals.

Most parents don't realize Christmas is being banned at their school because the media don't really give a rip. Yet blacklisting of angels and stars of Bethlehem and Christmas trees is not required by any law, anywhere. I am a secular humanist with no religion. But I wince each year as my intolerant secular humanist brethren increasingly shame teachers into stamping out Christmas. The courts say the U.S. Constitution's establishment clause can't be used to promote hostility to a religion, such as Christianity, in schools. Religious expression is allowed if there's a legitimate secular purpose -- such as, oh I don't know, perhaps explaining to children the most widespread cultural holiday in America, observed even by many nonbelievers?

Lance Izumi, with the conservative Pacific Research Institute, says bureaucrats and teacher colleges work hard to convince teachers there's a mystery Christmas ban. "Everybody is walking on eggshells when discussions of Santa or heaven come up. And how dare Arnold call it the Christmas tree? ... Yet we have this huge multicultural effort to teach multicultural methods and multicultural instructions to our teachers, where you are supposed to value everyone's culture. Christians are a major part of society, and they have a culture. But it conflicts with the PC ethic." This PC intolerance is why we blue states are viewed by the heartland crowd as hostile, godless places.

A few weeks back, schools in Maplewood, N.J., banned all carols. This inspired outraged WABC radio co-hosts Curtis Sliwa, the conservative Guardian Angels founder, and outspoken left-wing lawyer Ron Kuby -- two guys who rarely agree on anything -- to poll listeners. Of 3,750 respondents, 93 percent said the ban on carols was "another example of the PC crowd going nuts. "

The Anti-Defamation League has gotten into the guilt-tripping, urging on its Web site that "to avoid First Amendment violations," public schools not hold Christmas concerts dominated by Christmas songs. What nonsense. There is no such First Amendment ruling. The ADL also urges schools not to display "a nativity scene, crucifix or other undeniably religious symbols." Again, no such court ruling.

The Catholic League responded on its Web site, "The use of religious Christmas symbols within the context of a discussion of the season, or acknowledging the religious Christmas celebration along with the secular aspects of the season and the traditions of other faiths within December is not only permissible but appropriate. Christmas is being stamped out among adults as well. Residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco now invariably say "Happy Holidays" instead of the increasingly repressed "Merry Christmas."

Feeling a need to act in a world gone insane, I'm boldly saying "Merry Christmas!" this year. As I learned from my irreligious father, having religion is not a requirement for cherishing the warmth and decency of the most widespread cultural tradition in America. California, or much of it, already lacks a key ingredient for a classic Christmas: snow. How awful if our busy thought police stamp out the songs, the merry greeting, the red-and-green and the enduring question among children, so deftly handled by Maria Shriver the other day, of whether Santa Claus is real.


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