Friday, December 16, 2005
Rep. Davis says humbug to a PC Christmas
December 16, 2005 12:50 am
By MICHAEL ZITZ
Rep. Jo Ann Davis wants to make the world safe for saying, "Merry Christmas."
Davis, the 1st District Republican who represents much of the Fredericksburg area, launched a frontal assault yesterday on the Grinch of political correctness.
To the surprise of no one, she won--resoundingly.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 401-22 to pass HR 597, Davis' nonbinding resolution expressing its sense of the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas "for those who celebrate Christmas."
The resolution also states that the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution was not intended to prohibit any mention of religion "in civic dialogue."
Virginia congressmen Jim Moran, D-8th District, and Bobby Scott, D-3rd, were among those voting against the resolution.
Scott said he believes Davis' resolution is a Republican ploy to divert the public's attention away from what Congress has done in the last month, including cutting the food-stamp program, cutting health care for the working poor, cutting student aid and slashing support for single parents.
"The spirit of Christmas demands generosity and goodwill towards others," Scott said on the floor. "We ought to express our passion for Christmas through deeds, not words."
But Davis said political correctness has gotten so bad that when she sent out a "dear colleague" letter promoting her resolution, a House office that oversees internal communications called Davis' office to complain.
Davis said a member of her staff received a call to advise that, "She can't say 'Merry Christmas' in this 'dear colleague' letter."
"This is in a letter about a resolution about protecting the freedom to say 'Merry Christmas,'" Davis said, incredulously. "Things are getting ridiculous. It's political correctness run amok."
On the floor, Davis made a speech straight out of a Frank Capra film:
"Overzealous civil-liberties lawyers are making their list and checking it twice," she said. "Change the Christmas tree to a Friendship tree--check! Change 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' to 'We Wish You a Happy Holiday' --check! Remove the colors green and red--check! Get rid of Christmas music, even instrumental--check!
"Christmas has been declared politically incorrect," Davis continued. "Any sign or even mention of Christmas in public can lead to complaints, litigation, protests and threats. America's favorite holiday is being twisted beyond recognition."
Still, Mark J. Rozell, director of the Master of Public Policy Program at George Mason University in Fairfax, was appalled enough by the resolution to risk being called a Scrooge.
"Talk about meaningless drivel," Rozell said. "Let's also have a congressional resolution affirming our national support for motherhood and apple pie.
"I understand that Congress has to do symbolic things as well as the occasional substance," Rozell said. "And it costs nothing to pass symbolic measures that almost everyone agrees with. This is the easy work of representation."
Chris Connelly, a Davis aide, cited this week's theft of a baby Jesus from a Nativity scene outside a Fredericksburg dentist's office as evidence of a nationwide attack on Christmas.
Noting a recent poll found that 96 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, Davis said, "When did wishing someone a 'Merry Christmas' show insensitivity?
"This is a selective assault on religious free speech. The framers intended that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States would prohibit the establishment of religion, not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialogue," she said.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations issued a statement supporting Davis: "We concur with those who say that the framers of the Constitution did not intend to demand that America's public square be purely secular. Rather, the Constitution and its traditions argue for a public domain, which embraces and protects religious diversity."
Davis argued that the PC police are hurting America and its children by banning Santa Claus in an effort to "morph Christmas into this generic 'winter celebration' [going] beyond the secularization of the day."
Her claim prompted Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, to pen a tongue-in-cheek holiday poem dedicated to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and the House GOP, which he recited on the floor of the House chamber. It includes these lines:
We can pretend that Christmas is under attack,
Hold a vote to save it--then pat ourselves on the back;
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger,
Wake up, Congress, they're in no danger!
This time of year, we see Christmas everywhere we go,
From churches, to homes, to schools, and yes, even Costco.
Also yesterday, an international retail chain based in Seattle denied that it tells its employees not to say "Merry Christmas."
The coffee giant explained to The Free Lance-Star: "Starbucks [does] not give direction or provide a script to our partners as to what holiday greeting to give our customers. There is no policy prohibiting [an employee] from wishing a customer 'Merry Christmas.'"
Starbucks offers the same seasonal coffee blend in two different packages--one marked "Merry Christmas," and the other "Happy Holidays."