December 22, 2004

When A Fool Speaks

A hat tip to DovBear who pointed out this little gem by Irwin Graulich in which a Jewish man discusses why he loves Christmas.

I haven't any problem with Jews enjoying Christmas. I can appreciate why people would like it. The lights are pretty, trees smell good etc. I can appreciate why Christians find it to be a special time, but I do not understand nor appreciate why Jews would take Christmas into their own homes. I haven't any tolerance for Jews who put up Christmas trees or stockings in their homes. It is not right, but that is not the point of this.

I wanted to spend a few minutes pulling the
Irwin Graulich piece apart.

"
I am a religious Jew who simply loves Christmas. In fact, any Jew or non Christian who somehow gets "offended" because the majority religion in America makes such a big public splash about their biggest holiday is a total fool."

Nice to see such stunning logic. If you are offended by something you must be a fool for feeling that way. How about using some substance to argue your point.

"A crèche on a public or private lawn is a beautiful sight."

A crèche on a private lawn is fine, on a public lawn it wanders into the question of whether it violates the First Amendment.

"The Jews who keep "kvetching" (complaining) about manger scenes at city halls and Christmas carols in public school are more than likely to be the ones "uncomfortable" with their own Jewishness."

Actually Irwin many of us are quite secure in our Judaism, unafraid to express it publically, but also unafraid to claim our rights as citizens to voice concerns over things that we find to be questionable. I don't need to try and validate my self-identity as a Jewish man by denigrating others.

I happen to think the founders were correct in pushing for government to maintain a position of neutrality on religious matters.

"
These are the same malcontents who were so disturbed with the Mel Gibson film, predicting pogroms in New York and Los Angeles."

I know, it is terrible that people voiced their concern over factual inconsistencies and the potential for trouble. There is a difference between acting like Chicken Little and maintaining a vigilant stand against potential problems.

"
The band of Christmas complainers are an example of the leftover '60's generation of selfish narcissists who are constantly offended by everything from the God word in school to anyone holding the ideal of heterosexual marriage. What this anti-God crowd does not realize is that the more one believes that a divine Creator monitors our behavior and judges us, the less we will need the courts and judges to do so."

Right, if you complain about violating the First Amendment you must be anti-G-d. If you are for Gay marriage or civil unions you are anti-marriage and anti-morality. Solid stuff. What old Irwin likes to do is spout platitudes as if they are factual in nature.

"
Personally, I sang religious Christmas carols in my classroom in PS 164 in Brooklyn, which included the word, ready for this folks, "Jesus." Amazingly, I did not convert and am probably more Jewish today than most people who attended full time Jewish day schools."

Ok Irwin, you grew up in a city with a very sizeable Jewish population and that changes many things. But aside from that I wonder why you continue to try and prop yourself up with stupid claims about how you are more Jewish than others. How do you prove that? Do you have a mitzvah sheet that you use to keep tally of your observance of the mitzvot. Do you have a Moses trading card or decoder ring.

That is the kind of thing that the the Nazis did, measuring how Jewish a person is. Pretty impressive.

"
Attention all Christians. I would like to publicly thank all of you for the gorgeous Christmas decorations on lawns, the powerful Christmas music and spirit, the beautiful Christmas trees in our White House, and those incredible Christmas windows along Fifth Avenue. If not for your brilliant religious marketing skills, Chanukah would probably have gone the way of Shavuot, a more significant Jewish holiday which few Jews celebrate because there is no popular Christian holiday surrounding it."

Irwin, again you make foolish comments. It is clear that you speak based upon personal experience and not upon facts. Two can play at game. Almost every Jew I know celebrates Shavuot. Who is right? Is my experience more valid than yours. How about using some fact to provide substance.

"In all probability, it is the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree that has made the large Chanukah menorah near Central Park even possible. American Christians have taught Jews the valuable lesson that it is ok to be public with your religion as long as it is not coercive or obnoxious."

Pure subjectivity and again something that is entirely questionable.

"The concept of separation of church and state, which is not even mentioned in the Constitution, has come to mean the removal of God from every area except home and place of worship. Now isn't that a stupid idea!"

Irwin, if you really are a religious Jew you will understand the idea of the written law versus the Oral law. You should also understand that the Constitution is open to interpretation and the lack of specific instruction is not indicative of good or bad.

The Constitution provided the vote to white land owning males, not women. Slavery was not banned in the Constitution. Does that mean that it should still be in effect.

"Although America's money says In God We Trust and the president is sworn in on a bible, there are some secularists and atheists who still wish to hold onto their sophisticated scientific belief that hydrogen and oxygen actually created the world."

Meaningless fluff. How does any of this support your position. It doesn't.

"Making a religious holiday into a spectacle is the American Christian forte. Walk down any Main Street or shopping mall during this holiday season and you will see more smiles on children and adult faces than at any other time. However, we can certainly go overboard when a "Holy Day" becomes exclusively a "shopping holiday." That is the danger in removing Christ from Christmas."

Irwin, boychik if you are a religious Jew I cannot understand what your concern is with whether Christmas is a secular or religious holiday. That is Christian business. I can understand why religious Christians would be upset about it, but I am not going to tell them how to observe their holidays.

"There are Christians all over America who spend a tremendous amount of time and money putting up decorations for the public to enjoy. Wouldn't it be a great idea for Jews and other fellow Americans to knock on their doors and thank them; or even give them a bottle of wine or small gift of appreciation. That is the spirit of America where we truly share our multiculturalism."

Irwin you are running out of steam, your little essay is going every which way.

"But the rootless aka the secular left, hate the rooted with a passion. They would like everyone to be rootless just like the ACLU, university professors and themselves. Secularism is selfish because it means that the government has a duty to you, whereas religious means you have a duty to society. Look around and see that it is mostly Jewish Jews who honor Christians and non-Jewish Jews (ignorant of Judaism) who fear and complain about them."

Irwin, I find you to be ignorant and offensive, not to mention that I am frightened that some people might find you to be representative of American Jews and Jews in general.

'Secularism is selfish because it means that the government has a duty to you' is just a complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation of things. I can be a religiou Jew and understand that a government that maintains a neutral stance on religion is better for all people, regardless of faith. A secular government can still provide services and social responsibility. You don't need G-d to run a county hospital or repair/maintain the roads.

In the second part of your statement you said
'whereas religious means you have a duty to society.' What society? Society as a whole or just those who believe as you do.

Irwin, your conclusions are flawed, your data & factual support nonexistent. I find people like you who ignore logic and rational thought to be dangerous.

9 comments:

DovBear said...

::clap,clap,clap::

You beat me to it though. Is the world big enough for TWO fiskings of Irwin the Idiot?

How'd you like my other stuff this week Jackie-o

Stacey said...

Who IS this moron?

TRW said...

Wow. That's amazing. Unfortunately not surprising. A Jew who's more Christian than the Christian, and yet is convinced that he's the perfect representative for Jews-so he must apologize for us. I don't feel the need to apologize for my non-observance of Christmas, nor do I feel a need to validate it for those that do observe it! They're doing just fine on their own! I'd like to hope that I have more self-respect and love of my religion than that. I'm disturbed..yet again..

Koftu said...

I also agree with Jack that some things about Christmas aren't so bad. I also thank Jack for putting Mr. Graulich in his place. That article is a load of ____. FYI, since my parents are an interfaith couple where my mother is Christian, there is a Christmas tree in my house. I try to rationalize it as a mutual support structure. I can "celebrate" her holiday with her so she doesn't feel quite so left out.

Jack's Shack said...

Dovie,

You have done a fine job this week. Feel free to Fisk the Grinchlick, it is a good thing.

DovBear said...

Oh, Stacy if you read my blog you'd know all about this.

Cara said...

I used to have a decoder ring. It came from a box of Cracker Jack's. Then it broke, leaving me reliant on the Torah for guidance.

Maybe Father Irwin can lend me his for a while, so I don't lose any more of my Jewishness.

Nicely done, Jack! Too bad Irwin will probably never read it...

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Cara,

Even if he did read it I am not convinced that he would understand it. That is not meant to be offensive, he just comes across as being clueless.

chosha said...

"A Jew who's more Christian than the Christian..."
For goodness sakes. He doesn't come off remotely Christian. All he seems to be saying is that Christmas is time where Christians (and others) sing and decorate to create a happy and peaceful feeling - not to insult or offend people of other beliefs but just to express their own goodwill. They are also nicer to other people at that time of year. So instead of getting uptight or bitching about it, he chooses to appreciate it.

You know, when my friends and I get together (usually in January) we celebrate "Chrunnukah" - because we like the fact that we're a mixture of religions and we want to recognise that. Of course we've just been off celebrating with our families beforehand (that's why it's usually January) but when we get together we celebrate each other and we appreciate all the good things brought by both religions.

I get what it's like to be in a minority religion - I was a Christian in Japan for three years and there are much fewer Christians there than there are Jews in the US. Christmas there is either ignored or so misunderstood as to be devoid of meaning. But what would have been the point in me scrounging up a bunch of self-created drama and ruining my own religious holiday by being offended at the predominance of Buddhist/Shinto observance around that time of year? That's right, none.