Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Memo to Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport: Leave the trees down

Perhaps you followed the saga of the Christmas trees at Seattle's Sea-Tac airport. If not, you can catch up here.

In a nutshell:
  • First there were Christmas Trees at Sea-Tac
  • Then a rabbi threatened to sue, unless a Hanukkah menorah was added
  • So Sea-Tac caved and removed the trees
  • An uproar ensued, including the inevitable threats directed at the rabbi
  • The rabbi rescinded his threat to sue
  • Now the trees are going back up
It's a full house: jackasses over jokers.

As a Christian, I'll say this to Sea-Tac: don't put the trees back up on my account. I don't need them to celebrate the savior's birth. While you're at it, feel free to remove "under God" from the pledge, and "in God we trust" from the currency. The former is trivially true and the second is more or less a lie. At any rate, while I am required to proclaim my faith, the bible doesn't instruct me to insist that token pledges be imposed upon those who disagree. I wish we were a nation that trusted in God—but we're not. And even if it were so, our actions would speak louder than slogans printed on our coins.

There are no heroes in this story—only buffoons. The rabbi should not have been offended. There is nothing overtly Christian about a Christmas tree, especially the sanitized versions that I suspect Sea-Tac displayed, which I doubt included angels and a cross. Ok, perhaps one could argue that the heritage of Christmas in this country imposes a strong suggestion of Christianity as symbolized by a Christmas tree, even if in this day and age nobody actually looks at one and thinks of Christ. Well tough. Get over it. If I went through an airport that was decorated with menorahs I would find it a bit peculiar, but I wouldn't be offended and I wouldn't sue. I'd either admire them if they were beautiful or completely ignore them.

So Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky and his lawyers deserve a figurative kick in the shins. And they earned the right to be mocked and ridiculed. However, they don't deserve to be threatened with actual violence, and I hope the police arrest and the prosecutors prosecute anyone who does so.

And Sea-Tac, you don't look brave or honorable in putting the trees back up now that this threat of litigation has evaporated. You caved to the rabbi, and now you are caving to the overwhelming criticism you justly received. What will you do, after you put them back up, if some imam threatens to sue?

Here's a suggestion: forget the trees and apply the labor to getting the baggage from the planes to the carousels in a timely fashion.

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