A Texas state representative pre-filed legislation that would allow public school officials to use “traditional winter greetings” such as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” on school grounds.Unless they're willing to also defend the right of Satanists and Flying Spaghetti Monster adherents to put up similar displays, shut up. Yes, it is a tragedy that this whole separation of church and state thing means we cannot put up monuments to the baby Jesus on our children's school grounds (no word on whether the baby Jesus would be armed; if not, I expect the NRA will be piping up with yet another press conference about that).
The “Merry Christmas Bill” would grant “the right to celebrate on school property with displays associated with those holidays, including Menorahs, Christmas trees and Nativity scenes.”
Rep. Bohac apparently came up with the idea because he was miffed that his child's classroom was putting up a "holiday tree," instead of a "Christmas tree"; this, in turn, was terminology adopted because the school was "fearful of litigation," which pretty much lumps the whole thing in as a case study in how there is absolutely no damn way to not offend people when a good portion of the country spends their days actively looking for things to be offended about. Yes, it's a Christmas tree, you're not fooling anyone. No, that does not mean you ought to put Nativity scenes on the football field.
So if the parents of Muslim students want a Muslim display during their holidays, do they get it? Or would all of Republican Texas melt down in a puddle of self-righteous outrage about how those people are trying to indoctrinate their kids? The problem with the demands for religion in the public square is, still, that people like Mr. Bohac only mean certain religions. Hard-right Christianity is presumed to be the only true form; Judaism is begrudgingly tolerated as the thing that proves how terribly inclusive the Christian folks are; naughty socialist Christianity (the kind about tolerating people, caring for the sick and so on) is only tolerated if they pipe down on the naughty socialist parts and just yell Merry Jesus Day at folks; Islam is right out—they're not even allowed to have their own places of worship on their own property without having the good religious Christian folks mount national offensives against them. Hinduism is considered indistinguishable from Islam because all brown people look alike; everything else is pretty much just blanket Satanism. Am I missing any nuance there?
On a week like this, these things just seem especially petty and stupid. Since I am fairly certain that schools instituting, for example, the "traditional" Muslim prayer times for Muslim students would be met with actual gunfire from the good and virtuous Christian parents in Bohac's district, and since I can't even imagine what would happen if America's atheists were granted a school assembly to explain why each specific religion is, in their view, a mountain of horse crap, we should probably just continue the policy of keeping our personal religions and our shared public spaces just a wee bit apart, at least for the time being. When Muslim Americans in New York or Tennessee or California can build a mosque without a good chunk of America mobilizing in opposition to their religion, or when America's various religious crazy people aren't walking into each other's churches to shoot at people or burn things down because of disputes over who God wants killed and in what order, we can revisit.