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Dobbs: A tree grows in Seattle

By Lou Dobbs
CNN
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Editor's note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears every Wednesday on CNN.com

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Merry Christmas! That's right, Merry Christmas. Whether you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, pagan, barbarian or whatever, Merry Christmas!

It's what most of us say in this country come this time of year. It's about who we are, where we are and where we've been. And all the namby-pamby, little sensitive darlings among us who can't handle this verbal assault on their delicate senses should immediately begin seeking emergency psychiatric care.

This week we were treated to the spectacle of an easily offended and highly offensive rabbi who walked into an airport, gazed upon Christmas trees all around him and suddenly was overwhelmed with an immense, and apparently irresistible, urge to sue the management of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport because nowhere among all the Christmas trees was a single menorah. Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Seattle even delivered to the airport's management a draft of a lawsuit he would file if they didn't sprinkle menorahs around the Christmas trees.

Political correctness in this country reached an entirely new level of absurdity some years ago. But occasionally, and the situation at Sea-Tac is just such an occasion, we exceed ourselves. The militant fundamentalist rabbi so flummoxed Sea-Tac management with his threat and their perceived obligation to be "politically correct" that, rather than think rationally or simply tell him to stuff it, they started hacking away at all those artificial Christmas trees and quickly descended into a public relations nightmare in which they managed to offend reason, cultural values and the vast majority of Americans.

As CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told me, "The Supreme Court has held since 1984, the famous 'Reindeer Rule,' that if a symbol of Christmas is mostly secular, like a reindeer or a Christmas tree or Santa Claus, that is not a violation of the separation of church and state."

The irony that escaped the rabid rabbi and the timid Sea-Tac management team is that the Christmas tree's likely origin dates back to pre-Christian pagan cultures. The Christmas tree is not by any means a religious symbol, and when we're honest about it, the tree's become a purely commercial symbol more closely associated with shopping, roasting chestnuts and guzzling eggnog than a nativity scene with baby Jesus.

And hang on, Christians, because you're in 21st Century America, and our culture celebrates your holiest day of the year with such insensitive gusto that our economy would suffer a serious setback if your religious sensibilities were as easily offended as those of the litigious rabbi.

More than 140 million shoppers spent an average of about $360 on Black Friday alone, the day after Thanksgiving and the unofficial kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation. And all those Christmas shoppers are expected to spend nearly a half-trillion dollars this shopping season.

Now if I were a fundamentalist Christian, that might strike me as a little politically incorrect. And I think all of you folks should think about suing somebody. You know, get in the spirit of the season.

This mindless movement of political correctness at all costs is one of the most un-American and crazy twists in our culture as anything we've witnessed. Remember, we're Americans, and we have freedom of speech, that whole life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness thing. Or at least we did.

And I hope you'll celebrate the Christmas season by offending someone. If you're Jewish, how about a hearty "Happy Hanukkah" to a good Christian? If they're offended you've revealed a fool, not such a good Christian and someone you shouldn't waste your expression of good will upon. But get ready for a few robust "Merry Christmas" calls to be thrown your way as well.

The operators of the Seattle-Tacoma airport quickly righted a potentially dreadful wrong. The rabbi decided not to file a suit, Christmas trees have sprung back up throughout the concourse, and no, not a single menorah has been spotted. I can only hope this is the beginning of a major movement in America, one that regards thinking as paramount to phony feelings and heightened self-centered sensitivities. Common sense and judgment should always reign supreme over political correctness, no matter what the current trend.

And, my gosh, even Wal-Mart this year has abandoned its generic, politically correct "Happy Holidays" greeting in favor of "Merry Christmas." I'm starting to think this may be the season to be jolly after all. Ho, ho, ho.

To all, a Merry Christmas. OK, and a Happy Hanukkah, too.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.


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