Obama declares war on Christmas and Hanukkah!

The standard fare from the right this time of year gets a new twist

Topics: Christmas, War Room, Hanukkah,

By now, the “war on Christmas” has become a familiar feature of the, um, holiday season, with right-wingers from Bill O’Reilly to Focus on the Family and even Chuck Norris seeking out and doing battle with imaginary secular humanist forces of darkness. This year, though, with a left-wing Marxist Muslim in the White House, conservatives are also worried that the Obama administration is being insufficiently solicitous toward Jews during Hanukkah.

Not to worry, though, because there are people on the case. Below, a rundown of what the forces of godless ACLU-ism are doing to ruin the season for us, and what some brave souls are doing to fight back.

Christmas

“A Republican lawmaker with a mission to save Christmas is aiming his latest salvo at President and first lady Obama, who’ve followed in a recent tradition to eliminate the mention of Christmas in the White House holiday cards,” FoxNews.com’s Todd Starnes wrote in an article published Thursday.

You might want to have your kids leave the room before reading the content of the card — it is shocking. As summarized by Starnes:

The card selected by the Obamas announces: “Season’s Greetings.” Inside, it reads: “May your family have a joyous holiday season and a new year blessed with hope and happiness.”

Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., wasn’t about to take this lying down.

“I believe that sending a Christmas card without referencing a holiday and its purpose limits the Christmas celebration in favor of a more ‘politically correct’ holiday,” Brown told Fox News Radio.

So he’s fighting back — he’s introduced a resolution “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.” Under the resolution — which, even if passed, would be without any legal force whatsoever — the House would also “strongly disapprov[e] of attempts to ban references to Christmas.”

Of course, there really aren’t any “attempts to ban references to Christmas,” and neither the resolution nor a statement that Brown put out about it point to any. (The common complaint about various stores trying to appeal to as many people as possible with religiously neutral holiday greetings doesn’t come close to being a “ban.”)

That hasn’t stopped 58 representatives — all Republicans — from signing on as co-sponsors, of course.

Hanukkah

Not satisfied with waging a war only on Christmas, Obama has also, apparently, taken it upon himself to declare one on Hanukkah. At least, that’s the impression some Jewish conservatives are trying to foster, kvetching about the number of invitations the White House did — or didn’t — send out to prominent Jews for the one Hanukkah reception nestled in among the Christmas bashes that keep 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue humming this time every year.

You Might Also Like

Only 550 people were invited to the Dec. 16 Hanukkah party, the New York Times reported Friday, which has some Jewish Republicans trying to stir up some tsuris for the White House. George W. Bush’s administration, according to former White House Jewish outreach adviser Tevi Troy, used to invite twice that many people. The implication, of course, is that the new crew just doesn’t care as much about Jews as the GOP did. In an Op-Ed for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Troy warned that the party was contributing to “a nagging sense that there may be a studied callousness at work here.”

Oy vey, where to begin. For one, the Times found little evidence that the Bush Hanukkah parties were as well-attended as Troy recalls. “Administration officials also noted that White House records showed that Mr. Bush never had more than 584 guests at his Hanukkah parties,” the paper writes. “Most years there were fewer than 500, they said.”

For another, though the Obama Hanukkah invitation prompted some grumbling for calling the party a “holiday reception” instead of naming the specific holiday involved, that still doesn’t top Bush’s 2008 (or 5769) gaffe. Last year, the invitation for the last-ever chance to eat latkes with George and Laura Bush featured, on the front, a painting of a Clydesdale horse schlepping a Christmas tree up the White House driveway. “It is something that just slipped through the cracks,” said a spokeswoman at the time.

Besides, it’s not that convincing to believe Bush was ever that into the holiday to begin with. Sure, he had the first official White House Hanukkah reception. (Obama, it should be noted, had the first official White House Passover seder.) But considering the foreign policy adventures that Bush’s administration launched, isn’t a holiday commemorating the victory of a small band of fundamentalist religious insurgents over an occupying power a little too on the nose?

The Hanukkah reception nonsense is clearly just the latest attempt to paint Obama as somehow hostile to the Jewish community and its interests. (Set aside the fact that that effort, in turn, paints the Jewish community as monolithic; like most other Jews, I don’t vote for politicians based solely on their views on Israel.) During the campaign last year, there were constant efforts to insinuate that Obama couldn’t hold the same share of the Jewish vote that Democratic presidential candidates have come to depend on. And yet, when all was said and done, Obama took 78 percent of the Jewish vote — 2 points better than John Kerry did in 2004. Which just goes to show the whole thing is, as Rabbi Levi Shemtov — head of the Washington office for the Lubavitchers — told the Times, “one big overblown latke.”

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.
Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>