One of the consolations of living in Sun City (aka Menifee) is the nostalgic atmosphere that pervades the residential communities dating from the sixties and seventies. When cruising these holiday-enhanced streets, one could almost forget that in America today, and especially in Santa Monica, there are folks who devote significant effort to removing from public property scenes that have warmed young and old hearts since 1953.
Last year in that saint-christened city a group of atheists conspired to secure for themselves the lion’s share of spaces available for decoration based on a lottery that had been set up to ensure equal access by folks of different persuasions.
Many of these slots were, appropriately enough, left empty by folks who are skilled at destroying tradition but ill-equipped at putting anything uplifting in its place. A few other displays were used to mock religion—a good example of the new “spirit-of-the-solstice-season.”
Two slots housed a condensed version of the traditional Nativity scene, and one space commemorated the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
This year “The City of the Christmas Story” all-but-ditched the traditional displays at Palisades Park, insisting that any scene erected must have an attendant, presumably to protect it from vandals. A federal judge recently upheld the position of the municipality that seeks to wash its hands of what has become a legal and cultural battlefield.
Who knew that images promoting “Peace on earth; good will to men,” could be so divisive?
What most folks don’t know is that the modern judicial interpretation of the Constitution’s establishment clause would have seemed bizarre to the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson. The Jefferson Memorial, which is replete with religious references, pays tribute to an unorthodox President who nevertheless regularly attended church services that were held in the Capitol building itself for seventy years.
By contrast, the crew that gets its drawers bent out of shape over traditional Christmas displays on public property now insists that government-related acknowledgements of “the season” should shed all their essentially religious components and employ only images that don’t offend secular sensibilities—perhaps Black Friday fistfights or tasteful representations of a meaningless universe.
The logical kicker is that these dismal metaphysical preferences aren’t rational imperatives. Moreover, they offend individuals who lack a grinchly disposition and cringe at the idea that the only thing we have in common is government and black holes.
Here’s a novel thought. How about exhibiting some charity when in a government “of the people” some of those folks express their holiday traditions in the public square? That response certainly beats a cheerless, naked and rigorously intolerant public square.