Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December: Christmas Treees, Menorahs, And The Crescent & Star...

'Tis the season, I guess:
When they light the town Christmas tree in Armonk today, there will be a Jewish menorah right alongside, as usual. There will also be something new this year — an Islamic crescent and star.

And if there are any Buddhists or Hindus in town who want to see their symbols, the town is welcoming applications.

The holiday display, sponsored by the town of North Castle, which includes the village of Armonk, is among a growing number around the country that include the symbol for Islam.
For those who don't know, Armonk is in New York, and the inclusion of Muslims is not something new either.
The star and crescent have been part of the national Christmas tree display in Washington for more than a decade. The symbol also is part of the display in Mineola on Long Island, which also features a Christmas tree, a menorah, a Nativity scene and a Kinara candleholder for Kwanzaa. And Wellesley, Mass., has had a star and crescent alongside its Christmas tree and menorah for years.
There's nothing wrong with including Muslims, and it's a nice gesture--just as it is a nice gesture to include Buddhists and Hindus as well. But when Laila Al-Qatami, spokeswoman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington is quoted at the end of the article as saying:
Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans are Americans and respect other religions. They know that Christmas is a big holiday and they’re glad to be included.
--I guess that is what seems odd. Menorahs are included because the dates for the 2 holidays generally overlap. I don't feel included; I am doing my thing and Christians are doing theirs. If Chanukah fell out in November and there were no menorahs next to Christmas trees, it would not phase me.

You can argue that it it merely a nice gesture--and it is. But somehow to me it comes across as a bit artificial, as if the main motivation is political correctness and not wanting to upset Muslims who have no corresponding holiday that month.

For all the niceness, I think it comes across as a bit fakey.

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