Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Peggy Noonan has a plan

A few days ago, I advised the Democrats--as if they listened to me!--to get a new plan for addressing religious issues. Well, ever the generous woman, Peggy Noonan has ridden to their rescue. Here’s her suggestion:

Have Terry McAuliffe come forward and announce that the Democratic Party knows that a small group of radicals continue to try to "scrub" such holidays as Christmas from the public square. They do this while citing the Constitution, but the Constitution does not say it is wrong or impolite to say "Merry Christmas" or illegal to have a crèche in the public square. The Constitution says we have freedom of religion, not from religion. Have Terry McAuliffe announce that from here on in the Democratic Party is on the side of those who want religion in the public square, and the Ten Commandments on the courthouse wall for that matter. Then he should put up a big sign that says "Merry Christmas" on the sidewalk in front of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters on South Capitol Street. The Democratic Party should put itself on the side of Christmas, and Hanukkah, and the fact of transcendent faith.

This would be taking a stand on an issue that roils a lot of people, and believe me those people don’t think conservatives are scrubbing America of Christmas, they think it’s liberals; and they don’t think it’s Republicans, they think it’s Democrats. Confound them, Terry! Come forward with a stand. It is the stand that is the salvation, not mysterious words or codes or magic messages.

Do this, Democrats. Announce you will apply pressure to antireligious zealots throughout the country. You have nothing to lose but a silly and culturally unhelpful reputation as the party that is hostile to religious expression. What you could gain is respect and gratitude. Pick up that Christmas tree, Terry, take it outside and put a star on top, stand next to it, yell Merry Christmas and ring a bell. That’s a manipulation of symbols that would actually make sense.

I like it.

Discussions - 12 Comments

There was a 1999 case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Ganulin v. U.S., 71 F. Supp. 2d 824. The judge dismissed the case and started her judgment order as follows. (I apologize for it being in all caps; the judge wrote it that way and I’m copying and pasting.)


THIS COURT WILL ADDRESS
PLAINTIFF’S SEASONAL CONFUSION
ERRONEOUSLY BELIEVING CHRISTMAS
MERELY A RELIGIOUS INTRUSION.


WHATEVER THE REASON
CONSTITUTIONAL OR OTHER
CHRISTMAS IS NOT
AN ACT OF BIG BROTHER!


CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT JOY
AND GIVING AND SHARING
IT IS ABOUT THE CHILD WITHIN US
IT IS MOSTLY ABOUT CARING!


ONE IS NEVER JAILED
FOR NOT HAVING A TREE
FOR NOT GOING TO CHURCH
FOR NOT SPREADING GLEE!


THE COURT WILL UPHOLD
SEEMINGLY CONTRADICTORY CAUSES
DECREEING "THE ESTABLISHMENT" AND "SANTA"
BOTH WORTHWHILE "CLAUS(es)!"


WE ARE ALL BETTER [**2] FOR SANTA
THE EASTER BUNNY TOO
AND MAYBE THE GREAT PUMPKIN
TO NAME JUST A FEW!


AN EXTRA DAY OFF
IS HARDLY HIGH TREASON
IT MAY BE SPENT AS YOU WISH
REGARDLESS OF REASON.


THE COURT HAVING READ
THE LESSONS OF "LYNCH" n1
REFUSES TO PLAY
THE ROLE OF THE GRINCH! n2


THERE IS ROOM IN THIS COUNTRY
AND IN ALL OUR HEARTS TOO
FOR DIFFERENT CONVICTIONS
AND A DAY OFF TOO!


n1 Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 79 L. Ed. 2d 604, 104 S. Ct. 1355 (1984).


n2 Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Good luck getting Terry McAuliffe to make any such statements. The reason they keep losing elections is not a small cadre of the far left, it is the majority of the party activists and officials. McAuliffe is part of the problem. Average Democrats need to wake up and realize what their party has become. Apparently, judging by election results and nationwide party i.d., many of them already have.

...and what of the Islamic citizens of the U.S.?? Should we demand Koran quotes on the courthouse wall and federal holidays for Ramadan? There are several million of us here (and no, we’re NOT cheering on bin Laden or his ilk!!!). I haven’t heard of any Muslims doing this, but now that you’ve mentioned this government promotion of Christianity and Judaism, I wonder if you’d agree that we could open the field a bit... Thanks for reading.

Sure, open the field.

Let’s allow the Muslims to celebrate Ramadan openly, the Jews to celebrate Hanukkah openly, and the Christians to celebrate Christmas openly. True tolerance is not found in removing any religious references from public life altogether, but in understanding that there are differences among these religions (and living together in peace despite the differences).

It doesn’t mean anything to say "Happy Holidays," as all store clerks do these days. Why can’t they say, "Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!" I’m not sure if Muslims say "Happy Ramadan." (Maybe "Have a blessed Ramadan"? I apologize for not knowing.)

At any rate, I’d be much happier if the public square were inclusive of all religions, instead of being so antagonistic to anything rooted in faith.


The Democratic party as a whole, not only an extreme fringe, has become hostile to the Middle American mainstream. They will not follow Peggy’s advice and have no interest in doing so. The problem is far deeper and more sinister than mere stupidity or catering to extremists.

She should confine her advice to Republicans. The Dems will do just fine without her.

To Mr. "Muslim" -- public space reflects society as a whole. To the extent it does not, the state has become ideologized and is no longer based on reality. Given the overwhelming predominance of Christianity among the American population, and American society’s overwhelming historical basis in Christianity, it is an outrage to exclude Christian symbols from public space. These things cannot be parceled out based on fear of name-calling, or in response to whining such as yours.
They must be based on something real, not on "civil rights" ideology.

I didn’t realize that merely sharing an idea counted as "whining." So, does "society as a whole" thus necessarily exclude large religious minorities (wouldn’t Judaism also be one of these left out?), or those who are part of the (Christian) majority, yet who do not feel it necessary to display religious symbols on public property (paid for by ALL citizens) - who are content to confine their religious expressions to their body, their home, their property and their church?


Let it play out on the local level.

If secularists are politically strong enough to keep a "holiday" display secular, or even to prevent a holiday display entirely on public property, fair enough. Same with Jews, Muslims, and Christians. That is how public space can, and should, reflect society.

I think that this approach could lead to outcomes that, at various points, both of us would be dissatisfied with. If an active minority (or slim majority) of well-connected seculars would ensure that a holiday display in a public square would be secular, or a similarly powerful religious group would be able to dominate, this would not accurately reflect the community. When I look into the mirror I want to see an accurate reflection, not just my eyes or nose, blurring over everything else, like a funhouse mirror.

But really, when I drive by a city hall, I don’t look at it to determine the religious make-up of the local citizens, so I’m not concerned that these type of places serve as mirrors of ANY kind.
The government should keep my streetlights working and roads paved, and not waste time or money preaching to me - citizens can get this at their local church, mosque, synagogue, etc., no?


Good point, but I think Christmas displays are one example where the majority, not noisy minorities, really can rule.

Ordinarily, in the American system at least, the majority does not rule -- we are governed by the "squeaky wheel" principle, i.e., by intense and skillful minorities of various types.

But on this issue, people really pay attention, really think it affects them (as it does), and really care. It’s an issue anyone is capable of understanding, too. Therefore, I think the majority will would tend to predominate in a community.

Admittedly, just a guess. But it’s better than the judicial tyranny we have now.


I disagree much more strongly with your presumption that a religious display on public grounds amounts to "preaching."

The ones I’m aware of are much more accurately described as "honoring" or "acknowledging."

Wait, how exactly are Democrats "hostile" to Christmas in the first place? I LOVE this kind of advise coming from Republicans.

How about this for the GOP? You know how Liberals say that Republicans are fascists who want to end Social Security? Well, an easy way to rectify that is to march out onto their front yard and shout, "I SUPPORT SOCIAL SECURITY, AND I WILL RAISE TAXES TO ENSURE IT’S SOLVENCY!"

(See? Then they’ll be just like Democrats and Democratic voters will vote for Republicans because, what the hey? There’s no longer any difference between them!)

No, Democrats are not trying to "scrub" Christmas from the public square, and Lord help them if they are, because they are doing a PISS POOR JOB OF IT THEN!

I mean, I can’t turn around without seing CHRISTMAS!!! Christmas is EVERYWHERE!!! Whew, every "oppressed minority" out there should be so lucky as American Christians!

Good point, John.

American Christians - they got their President of Choice, they’re controlling the national dialog, but they still look at themselves as pitiable victims!
The best of both worlds!

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/5582