A Dennis Hastert press release. A Washington Times article.
I know. This has all the makings of a real news event.
House Speaker Hastert has decided to rename the "Capitol Holiday Tree" the "Capitol Christmas Tree." Now, in solid Bill O'Reilly style, Hastert just can't believe that the secular crew doesn't want anyone to call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. Except for one thing. The Republicans changed the name themselves. The article mentions in passing that the Capitol Christmas Tree was so named until the "late 1990s." Pop quiz time, which party held the speaker's chair in the "late 1990s"? Hint: same one as today. To say nothing of the plain fact that the far more famous "National Christmas Tree" at the White House has maintained that name. And for this to even be an issue, one must forget that the only December Holiday featuring a tree is Christmas. Would anyone be confused about which festival a "Holiday Menorah."
But that's not the point. The point is that every single winter, like clockwork, the conservative media flies of the handle looking for ways that Christmas is under fire. For example, "Calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree has become a politically charged prospect in jurisdictions across the country -- from Boston to Sacramento and in dozens of communities in between.
"It's a growing problem," said Jared N. Leland, spokesman and legal counsel for the Becket Fund, a District-based legal and educational institute. "Celebrating the season with Christmas trees ... and leaving them named 'Christmas' is simply recognizing the religious nature of people. Christmas should be able to be called Christmas." "
But is it really politically charged? Do most people really care about the holiday preperations of their City Hall, which the article cites as dire (though it notes that up in Boston, Mayor Menino will refer to a "Christmas Tree" in his lighting ceremony)? In New York, perhaps the nation's most famous Christmas Tree is put on display at Rockefeller Center. Which serves only to demonstrate that state sponsorship is hardly a necessary component of religious celebration. Does anyone think that City Hall would do a better job? Either way, the separation of Church and State clearly does not represent a war on Christmas (which is a non-existent conflict in either case). Moreover, this particular example, as written up in the Washington Times, is completely manufactured. The House Republican leadership changed the official name of a tree just so they could change it back. Also, do we think that anyone walking by the Capitol Tree has any idea whether it is officially labeled as "Christmas" or "Holiday"?