With today's ruthless emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity, many members of the nation's Christian majority have begun to worry that even the most innocuous yuletide celebrations may somehow offend adherents of minority religions.
Every year, these concerns give rise to ludicrous confrontations, as with the recent collision of the figure skater, the carolers, the bureaucrat and the cop.
In Riverside, Calif., Olympic silver medalist and U.S. National Champion Sasha Cohen delivered a predictably dazzling performance at the city's outdoor skating rink on the downtown pedestrian mall. After she concluded her show and began signing autographs for the happy holiday crowds, a high school choir (previously booked for the occasion) launched into a series of Christmas carols. They began with "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and a city special events employee became concerned that Ms. Cohen, who happens to be Jewish, might feel offended. Perhaps the officious bureaucrat worried specifically about the lyric, "God rest ye merry gentlemen/ Let nothing you dismay/ Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day … "
In any event, the official event coordinator grabbed a nearby cop, went over to the choir and ordered them to cease and desist in mid-carol. Of course, no one had bothered to ask Ms. Cohen's opinion and through her representatives she later suggested that she had no objection whatever to the performance of Christmas music in her presence. Eventually, even the mayor of the city communicated his regrets for the fiasco. "You certainly have my apology," Ron Loveridge declared. "It is unfortunate."
This particular misfortunate incident stemmed from three fundamentally mistaken assumptions that have become much too common in contemporary America:
1. That Jews are invariably threatened or discomfited by Christian celebrations and messages.
Of course, this notion proceeds from appalling ignorance of the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of American Jews and the values of Judaism itself. For better or worse, the number of Jews who display Christmas trees in their homes is vastly larger than the number of Jews who feel offended or uncomfortable in any way with public celebrations of Christmas.
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