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Monday, December 11, 2006

Rabbi 1, Christmas 0

Uh oh. The War on Christmas, which had previously been thought to be retreating this year, is rearing its ugly head in the Pacific Northwest.

All nine Christmas trees have been removed from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport instead of adding a giant Jewish menorah to the holiday display as a rabbi had requested...

"We decided to take the trees down because we didn't want to be exclusive," said airport spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt. "We're trying to be thoughtful and respectful, and will review policies after the first of the year."

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, who made his request weeks ago, said he was appalled by the decision. He had hired a lawyer and threatened to sue if the Port of Seattle didn't add the menorah next to the trees, which had been festooned with red ribbons and bows.

I personally think that this "War on Christmas" bit is quite silly. The overwhelming majority of our population claims Christianity as its faith with varying levels of devotion, and I see nothing wrong with acknowledging and respecting other traditions during what is intended to be a peaceful and warmhearted time of year.

This situation in particular seems like it could have easily been avoided. Why did Rabbi Bogomilsky resort to the threat of legal action? Surely a conversation could have been had in June--or in January 2007--about adding a menorah for the next holiday display. Would it have really hurt anything to go one more holiday season without a menorah when the airport has displayed only trees for decades?

Here's the sticking point that appears to have motivated the airport's decision to remove its trees: Its lawyers advised displaying symbols from various religions, not just Christianity and Judaism. I have no issue with that, but surely the airport could have agreed in writing to begin displaying symbols for other faiths starting with the 2007 holiday season and showcased only the trees and the menorah this time around.

This just seems to me like a lot of silliness, wasted anger and, worst of all, more fodder for the culture wars to me. Let the boycott on flying to Seattle begin! ;)

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