Krauthammer makes another point that I myself have tried to make over the years. We would hope that non-Christians are strong enough in their faith to feel unthreatened by Christmas carols or other vaguely religious themes. I should think this would be particularly true of agnostics and atheists, who I would think compose a particularly hearty lot.
In Alexandria, Virginia's Old Town, I often attend a Roman Catholic Church that might never have been there were it not for that great and good man George Washington. Washington was part of the Protestant majority that in those faraway days was not particularly congenial to Catholics, but he put in his recommendation that the assorted rastaquoueres have their church, and they have it.
Washington went beyond mere toleration. He encouraged religious minorities. In his 1790 letter to the Newport synagogue, he wrote, Krauthammer reminds us, "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights." So maybe next year I shall be blurting out "Merry Christmas." But for now, let me say "God Bless."
As I finish this column, I am told that my friend, the liberal columnist Jack Newfield, died just hours ago. He was an honest liberal. He wrote for such diverse papers as the Village Voice and the New York Sun, often expressing sentiments I could not countenance -- but he was always worthy of respect, for he never postured or feigned a sentiment.
Those adversaries who deserved his respect had it. He was tough-minded, but he knew that there were boundaries to politics beyond which commonality could be shared. We talked about food, jazz, American history and sports -- especially boxing, his beloved Sweet Science -- with no hint of politics.
There was nothing petty or opportunistic about his work. He loved life, particularly the urban life of New York. So let me end by saying, God Bless Jack Newfield. His friends and even his enemies will miss his strong voice.
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