Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Does this qualify as plagiarism?

Compare Column in Washington Post published Dec 10 to Column in todays Fish Wrapper

What 'War on Christmas'?
By Ruth MarcusSaturday, December 10, 2005; Page A21
I've been hearing about this "War on Christmas," so I headed to the Heritage Foundation the other day for a briefing from one of the defending army's generals: Fox News anchor John Gibson, author of "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought." Gibson -- and Bill O'Reilly, his comrade in the Fox-hole -- see this as a two-front war: Assaulting Christmas from the government end, they say, are pusillanimous school principals, politically corrected city managers and their ilk, bullied by the ACLU types into extirpating any trace of Christmas from the public square. Battering the holiday from the private sector are infidel retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart, which balk at using the C-word in their advertising in favor of such secularist slogans as "Happy Holidays."
The assault, Gibson told the Heritage crowd, has reached a "shocking level this year."
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After the lecture, I wandered over to Union Station to check out a retail battlefield. Inside and out, the station was festooned with giant You Know What wreaths. A huge You Know What tree, with presents wrapped in red and green underneath, stood in the main hall, near a placard announcing "Norwegian Christmas at Union Station." A high-tech player piano was playing "Go Tell It on the Mountain," proclaiming the birth of You Know Who; the next selection was You Know Who Else Is Coming to Town. The most generic element was a small sign reading "Happy Holidays," but even then the words were bracketed by reindeer -- and let's just say, they weren't eating latkes. It was beginning to look a lot like You Know What.
If the anti-Christmas forces are winning, then the war in Iraq is nothing short of total victory.
It may seem strange -- even foolhardy -- for a nice Jewish girl to be writing about Christmas. So let me say: I'm a huge fan, always have been, in a kind of nose-pressed-against-the-glass sort of way. When I was growing up in the New Jersey suburbs, my family used to pile into the car every Christmas and drive around looking at the lights, with my mother and I engaging in earnest discussion of what color scheme we'd choose. If I were Christian, I suspect, I'd be the sort of over-the-top type who buys ornaments year-round and has a drawer full of Christmas sweaters, the kind featuring pompoms as tree ornaments.
This is the time of year, though, when those of us who aren't Christian, or who don't celebrate Christmas, most feel our minority status. I've experienced this especially acutely since my children started to look longingly at shopping mall Santas (Santa's a nice guy, honey, but he's not for us) and ask why there are so few menorahs or dreidels among the reindeer and Christmas trees. (How to break this gently? Their team has a lot more players.)
I'm not one who would argue that we ought to Grinch our way out of this discomfort by aggressively de-Christmafying. And to the extent that the war-on-Christmas crowd is simply reacting to knee-jerk political correctness, I'm with them. It's idiotic to call the Capitol conifer a Holiday Tree -- as it has been for the past several years, until it was re-, um, christened this year. If, as Gibson reports, the Plano, Tex., schools really have an edict banning red-and-green decorations (was it either color or just the combination?) -- well, you don't have to be Christian to find this more than a little silly.
But there is an ugly, bullying aspect to this dispute, in which the pro-Christmas forces are not only asking, reasonably, that their religion be treated with equal status and respect but in which they are attacking legitimate efforts at inclusivity. It's this sense of aggrieved victimhood that confuses me: What, exactly, is so threatening about calling the school holiday a winter break rather than Christmas vacation?
The latest alleged perfidy is the failure of the White House Christmas card to mention Christmas, instead expressing "best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness" and featuring a verse from Psalms. William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, calls this evidence that the administration has "capitulated to the worst elements in our culture." I call it a recognition, especially welcome at a time of sectarian violence, that not all the 1.4 million folks on the Christmas list are Christian.
This has reached its most imposition-of-Sharia-law-like level of intolerance in the campaign to cow stores into saying Christmas. O'Reilly, escalating his "Christmas Under Siege" campaign, has posted a list of naughty and nice retailers. The American Family Association goes further, calling for a boycott of stores -- it's targeted Target -- that fail to use the word Christmas in their advertising or in-store promotions. "Target doesn't want to offend a small minority who oppose Christmas," says AFA's chairman, Donald Wildmon. "But they don't mind offending Christians who celebrate the birth of Christ."
Really? I've just gone on the Target Web site and plugged Christmas into my product search. "We found 39,197 match(es) for 'Christmas' at Target," it reported. How offensive is that?

Published December 27, 2006
OUR VOICE »Can we please drop the fake war on Xmas?Proposed legislation is worthless.Yes, we said it. Xmas.
Why? Because it fit in the headline space. We'd better watch out, however. If we're not careful, Missouri legislators will pass a law making use of the shorthand for Christmas illegal entirely.
We realize Xmas — oops, Christmas — is over, but before the season leaves us, we've got one more "bah humbug" to get off our chests.
Can we please stop with the war on winter break?
What did poor, little old winter break ever do to deserve such unmitigated attacks?
Sure, the last couple of winters have been a bit mild, and we can't remember the last time a winter break actually brought us a white Christmas, but do the two words that mean "no school" to thousands of Missouri school children deserve such a barrage of criticism?
We think not. But the folks who imagined the "war on Christmas" think otherwise.
One of them is state Rep. Mike Cunningham of Marshfield. Cunningham has filed a piece of legislation that is an absolute waste of time. His proposal, House Bill 68, would require state agencies and public schools to use the official name of holidays when referring to such holidays. No more MLK Day to save ink. No sir. It must be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Say goodbye to Presidents Day and hello to Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday.
The bill, of course, is targeted purely at winter break.
Some school districts call the two-week break around Christmas winter break. How dare they!
Cunningham's bill would change that. Actually, the bill doesn't say anything about winter break because it's not really a holiday. Same with spring break. To comply with the bill, school districts would just have to call Christmas, well, Christmas. The break can be anything they want to call it.
What Missouri really needs is a break from useless legislation.
It's fine if local attorney Dee Wampler wants to go school district to school district and make the case that calendars get changed from winter break to Christmas break. Some local districts, Strafford and Nixa, for instance, made the change. That's fine. And it's fine if they don't want to change it. It's an arbitrary two-week break on the calendar, and we don't care what school districts choose to call the time off.
Cunningham shouldn't care either. If he and his fellow legislators want to focus on real problems facing education, more power to them.
But bah humbug on your manufactured war on Christmas.
It's really winter break that's under attack. Leave the poor guy alone.