War Against Christmas 2006 Competition [II]: No War Against Christmas? Tell That To The Grinches of Gotham!

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See also: War
Against Christmas







[VDARE.com Christmas
competition note

us with local outrages, wherever you are.
Instapundit recently

, re the Sea-Tac Christmas Tree ban, "Is it
just me, or are we hearing a lot less of this stuff this

is just him
, but we not only want to hear about the
War on Christmas, but about people fighting back.

Also by Howard

An Open Letter to Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of
New York


mainstream media loves to tell us
there is no War
Against Christmas (WAC). No, no, the WAC only exists in

fevered imaginations
of ratings-grubbing TV talking
heads like John Gibson and Bill O`Reilly.

Oh, really? There is evidence aplenty that TV talkers
aren`t just making it up. All across the country, from
now-you-see-`em, now-you-don`t, now-you-see-`em-again
Trees at Sea-Tac Airport to the august
precincts of the Supreme Court, there are skirmishes
going on in a war against something seasonal…and maybe
against something more.

As VDARE.com readers know only too well, every year
about this time, assorted secularists,

, ACLU fanatics and a growing variety of

of all sorts gird their alienated loins and
sally forth to renew the WAC. The

have enjoyed enormous successes. Now cowed
employees offer each other a half-hearted Happy
at their carefully

Christmas (oops, sorry, make that

) Parties, instead of the more heartfelt

Merry Christmas!
of yore.

The more of these annual campaigns one observes, the
plainer it becomes that the "War Against Christmas"
is but

a seasonal campaign in a year-round war

Christianity itself.
It doesn`t matter that
Christianity was the faith of the people who

settled the colonies

founded America,
and that Christianity is still the
professed faith of most Americans. (Actually, one
suspects that may matter a great deal to many of the

Nowhere is the War Against Christmas more apparent
than in Skoros v. City of New York. This
extraordinary but oddly unreported litigation
shows how the nation`s largest public school system is
deliberately eradicating any mention of what Christmas
is about, while at the same time allowing


symbols. In effect, the New York City
Department of Education is flagrantly reducing
Christianity to a sort of

second-class citizenship behind Judaism
and Islam. All religions are equal, but some are more
equal than others.

In 2001, the New York City Department of Education
promulgated a

that permits the display in its schools of a
menorah, in honor of Hanukkah, a

moon and star, because of

(even though Ramadan is

usually long over
by the time the "Holiday
starts), and a pine tree, in honor of… what
exactly? A Christmas nativity scene or crèche of any
kind is expressly forbidden.

The Department of Ed must have figured this was
pretty safe, because the cowed Christians were unlikely
to complain. They didn`t count on Mrs. Andrea Skoros, a

Roman Catholic
mother of two sons in New York City
public schools. Mrs. Skoros objected to the expulsion of
Christian symbols from what are, after all, Christmas
displays, while Jewish and Moslem religious symbols are
given prominence. She also didn`t appreciate her
children being required to do coloring exercises filling
in pictures of menorahs and learning the stories of

and Ramadan, while the Christmas story was
ruthlessly excised from the curriculum.

Mrs. Skoros`s attempts to get equal billing for her
children`s faith were brushed off by Queens educrats.
Unable to get the Department of Ed`s attention in any
other way, Mrs. Skoros, with

by the

Thomas More Law Center
(TMLC), took NYC Schools

Joel Klein
[Send him

and the Department to court. She
contended that the suppression of Christmas in her sons`
school`s “Holiday Display” violated the
Constitution`s Establishment Clause by discriminating
against Christianity.

In argument at least as contemptuous of common sense
as it is of Christianity, the Department`s lawyers
claimed that the menorah, crescent-and-star and
Christmas trees are all purely secular symbols, while a
crèche is a purely religious symbol. Even they seemed to
know what a ludicrous argument that is, so they
bolstered it by

that the menorah and crescent-and-star
commemorate historical events,

while the crèche does not!

It is certainly true that Hanukkah, with the menorah
as its symbol, commemorates attested events at the end
of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucids. I haven`t
been able to find any

specific Islamic event
that the

is supposed to commemorate
(neither could TMLC lead counsel Robert Muise when he
looked into it). But the Gospels provide pretty strong
attestations of what the crèche commemorates—even if one
does not acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ, it is
hard to deny that the New Testament is strong historical
evidence of his birth and life, and the life of Christ
is mentioned in other ancient sources, independent of
the Bible.

Outrageous though the Department of Ed`s arguments
were, Brooklyn Federal Judge Charles Sifton bought
enough of them. In February 2004, Sifton upheld the New
York schools` Holiday Display policy. Sifton somehow
found "significant secular connotations" in the
menorah and crescent-and-star—even after acknowledging
that the menorah, at least, is clearly – if not
exclusively – a religious symbol. [Decision in

](As Michael Medved has

about the Sea-Tac "Holiday" Trees
imbroglio: "…the chief mitzvah (holy commandment)
of the Hanukah holiday requires the lighting of these
candelabra and reciting the blessings, so it`s deeply
misleading or, at best, a stretch, to call the menorah a
secular symbol. Christians do not routinely pronounce
blessings or recite prayers over Christmas trees

In contrast, Sifton claimed, Nativity scenes in any
form are "purely religious" and accordingly

Sifton`s ruling is ridiculous on the most basic of
Establishment Clause grounds: he has made himself, a
government official, the referee of what is and isn`t a
religious symbol – a power that clearly violates the
Establishment Clause. Basically, Judge Sifton took
refuge in the standard Justice Brennan invented in

Lemon v. Kurtzman
in 1971 (known since,

not very affectionately
, as

"the Lemon Test"
), by finding the Department of
Ed`s Holiday Display policy had a legitimate secular
purpose: advancing multiculturalism (what else?).

Mrs. Skoros appealed. The case made its way to the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, across the
East River in New York. In February 2006, a sharply
divided panel of the Second Circuit also found for the
Department of Ed. [Full text


After an insultingly flippant opening ("No

holiday season
is complete, at least for the courts,
without one or more First Amendment challenges to public
holiday displays
), the majority ducked the
issue of whether the Department of Ed was discriminating
against Christianity. Instead, it professed to find no
evidence that New York City was promoting Judaism and
Islam in its public schools, on the theory that the
point of view to consider was that of a detached adult
observer. The court made a point of saying it wasn`t
ruling on whether a Nativity scene such as a crèche was
always impermissible, and even said that a menorah is
clearly a religious symbol. But it upheld New York
City`s discrimination against Christian symbols with the
argument that the Holiday Display policy has a
"secular purpose"
: to promote


holiday displays.

Judge Chester Straub, in a stinging dissent, said
that his court`s majority had misapplied the endorsement
test Supreme Court Justice

Sandra Day O`Connor
inserted into Establishment
Clause jurisprudence

in 1984
(to muddy up the already murky waters even
more). In Straub`s view, it made no sense to invoke a
hypothetical neutral adult. Look instead at the real
people involved, he wrote, and "a reasonable
student observer would perceive a message of endorsement
of Judaism and Islam and a reasonable parent observer
would perceive a message that Judaism and Islam are
favored and that Christianity is disfavored
violation of the Establishment Clause.

After being denied a rehearing by the Second Circuit
en banc (all the circuit`s judges sitting
together), Mrs. Skoros has petitioned the U.S. Supreme
Court to hear the case.

As of this writing, and despite a

false UPI report on
November 28 that it had

turned the case down
, the Supreme Court has not
announced whether or not it will hear Skoros v. City
of New York
. But it

may announce
that decision before the end of this

If the Court takes Mrs. Skoros`s case, we can hope it
will restore Nativity scenes to New York`s
Christmas-time displays. Justice O`Connor, the Court`s
unpredictable swing vote, is off the bench and off to
William and Mary (no, not that Mary). Her
replacement is Samuel Alito. As a Third Circuit judge,

Alito ruled
that a display including a crèche,
menorah and secular symbols was perfectly fine under the
Constitution. And so it is.

The War Against Christmas, and against Christianity
in America, is part and parcel of the campaign to
transform America, against the wishes of most Americans.
It is of a piece with mass immigration. As Peter
Brimelow says of immigration,

America is being transformed
against our will, and
for no reason. Anyone who knows any American history,
who can read the

Declaration of Independence
and the Constitution,
knows that

Christianity is part of the American fabric
, and
always has been.

There are victories in the WAC that we Christmas-philes
can take heart from. Mrs. Skoros`s lawyers at the TMLC
posted a New York success in November. For two years the

Town of Bedford,
in the Westchester County suburbs
just north of the city, had posted a menorah, complete
with lighting ceremony, on the town hall lawn for
Hanukkah, while refusing a similar Christmas display.
This year, thanks to a TMLC letter and persuasive
argument by New York lawyer

Christopher Ferrara
, a

Nativity scene is on the lawn as well.

The Sea-Tac "Holiday" Trees are

back up
, after

strong reaction
to their being toppled as the
airport management`s excuse for declining to mount a
large menorah, at the request of the

rabbi who started the fuss.

Pressure— and the internet – work.

It is past time to stop the New Class`s abuse of the
Establishment Clause to drive Christianity from American
life—when the Establishment Clause actually exists to
protect free exercise of religion.

Mrs. Skoros is offering the Supreme Court an
opportunity to do just that. I hope they take it.

Merry Christmas!

Howard Sutherland (

him) is an attorney in New York.