Commentary: 'Defense' of Christmas isn't necessary

The Myrtle Beach SunDecember 21, 2009 

Politicians can do some pretty useless things, sometimes because they are clueless, sometimes because they are sincere but misguided, sometimes because the reality is that they have to play the game of politics or risk becoming irrelevant.

I can't tell you in which of the categories above Rep. Henry Brown's House Resolution 951 to "recognize the importance of Christmas" falls. It has 72 Republican co-sponsors and one Democrat.

His three goals are to have the U.S. Congress "recognize the important of the symbols and traditions of Christmas," "strongly disapprove of attempts to ban references to Christmas," and "express support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas."

I'll be generous and say Brown's move is a sincere but misguided attempt to ... to fix something that's not broken.

Like clockwork, it seems that when the calendar hits December the old "attack on Christmas" canard is trotted back out to center stage. Groups like Focus on the Family annually grade which retailers are sufficiently Christmassy - the ones that greet customers with "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" - a handful of folks write books or exhaustive articles listing all the horrible ways Christians are being run over by godless heathens, and a few prominent TV personalities warn Christians to fight back.

And syndicated columnists get caught up in bogus stories about 8-year-old boys being punished for drawing Jesus on the cross.

Never mind that the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and the date Dec. 25 are from pagan traditions - scholars don't know when Jesus was born, but some speculate it was in the springtime - because such details don't really matter to those intent on believing this country's most practiced, prosperous, influential and visible religion is being crowded out by those who simply want to recognize that other faiths exist and matter as well.

Never mind that making demands of retailers only commercializes what's supposed to be a sacred observance even more.

Never mind that no other religion in this country shuts down the stock market and closes banks, stores, schools and federal buildings when their holidays are being celebrated.

To minds like Brown's, none of that matters because President Obama's "Happy Holidays" White House cards (instead of "Merry Christmas" cards) amount to religious persecution. George W. Bush sent out a similar greeting a year ago, probably because they both recognize that not all 308 million of us are Christian.

"We must not forget that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ and I will continue to work to protect the sanctity of this great holiday," Brown said in a statement.

Several S.C. politicians made national news this year. Rep. Joe Wilson became a star for yelling "you lie" at the president. Sen. Jim DeMint proudly claimed that the defeat of health care reform would be Obama's Waterloo. Rep. Jim Clyburn has turned into one of the most influential men in Washington. And Sen. Lindsey Graham always makes waves and is taking it up a notch as he slowly becomes the new John McCain while the real John McCain tries to become a Tea Party favorite.

Maybe Brown thinks being perplexed "by the mounting discussion surrounding the 'proper' way to commemorate December 25th" will help him make a few headlines or at least change the conventional wisdom that he will have another hard election fight next year.

A wiser use of his time would be trying to find a way to bring down South Carolina's still-rising jobless rate.

That's the best way to defend his seat.

I have it on good authority that Jesus is fairly good at defending himself. He doesn't need Brown's help.

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