December 18, 2006

Fort Collins Says "Bah-Humbug" To Menorah

We can thank the ACLU for decisions like this, where Fort Collins bureaucrats refuse to allow a menorah so as to not open the floodgates to other religious displays (unlikely) while opening themselves to cries of discrimination and legal action (more likely):
For the second year in a row, this normally serene university town at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains is embroiled in a dispute over holiday symbols.

The controversy, similar to recent wrangling over Christmas trees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, centers on the refusal by Fort Collins to allow a menorah to be displayed downtown during Hanukkah, near a Christmas tree and other Christmas displays.

In November 2005, Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik of the Chabad Jewish Center of Northern Colorado asked the city to place a nine-foot menorah near a Santa’s workshop display in Old Town Square, a popular gathering spot surrounded by shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars.

The Downtown Development Authority, a quasi-governmental agency that owns the square, allowed a menorah-lighting ceremony but refused Rabbi Gorelik’s request to leave the menorah there for the eight days of Hanukkah. He then asked the city if he could place it with a Christmas tree display in Oak Street Plaza nearby. The City Council refused that request, saying it would have to study the issue.
Allow the menorah, a nativity, Christmas trees, a few reindeer, a snowman etc. and all will be well. The outrage over the removal of Christmas trees in Seattle's airport should be matched for this slight to the Jewish community.

Mark Steyn has some thoughts on the Seattle tree flap:
This isn't about religion. Jesus is doing just fine in the United States. Forty years of ACLU efforts to eliminate God from the public square have led to a resurgent, evangelical and politicized American Christianity unique in the Western world. What the rabbi in Seattle and the cops in Riverside are doing is colluding in an assault on something more basic: They're denying the possibility of any common culture. America is not a stamp collection with one of each. It's an overwhelmingly Christian country with freedom of religion for those who aren't. But it's quite an expansion of "freedom of religion" to argue that "those who aren't" are entitled to forbid any public expression of America's Christian inheritance except as part of an all-U-can-eat interfaith salad bar. In their initial reaction, Seattle Airport got it right: To be forced to have one of everything is, ultimately, the same as having nothing. So you might as well cut to the chase.

What, after all, is the rabbi objecting to? There were no bauble-dripping conifers in the stable in Bethlehem. They didn't sing "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," either. That's, in effect, an ancient pop song that alludes to the birth of the Savior as a call to communal merry-making: No wonder it falls afoul of an overpoliced overlitigated "diversity" regime. Speaking of communal songs, they didn't sing "White Christmas" round the manger. A Jew wrote that. It's part of the vast Jewish contribution to America's common culture.

Seattle Airport could certainly put up a menorah. And maybe a commemoration of Eid, and Kwanzaa, and something for solstice worshippers, and perhaps something for litigious atheists. But to do that is to turn society into a kind of greater airport departure lounge -- to say it's no more than an assemblage of whoever happens to be in it at any particular time. Successful societies (unlike plastic trees) have deep roots: Nobody should be obliged to believe Jesus is the son of God, but likewise nobody should take such umbrage at trees and tinsel and instrumental versions of "Silent Night" that he would deny the reality of the land he lives in to the vast majority of his fellow citizens. Because the logic of that leads not to a diverse secular society but to an atomized ersatz non-society. And, as those other touchy types the Islamists well understand, once you put reality up for grabs, all kinds of pathologies suddenly become viable.
Pathologies like Islamism, multiculturalism, and victimism for instance.



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