'Tis the Season for Taking Action

Date: Dec. 16, 2005

December 16, 2005

This Christmas season, some of the symbols and traditions we celebrate have come under an unjustified, unprovoked attack.

In New Jersey, for example, a grade-school field trip to see the Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol, was cancelled due to the play's "religious content." In another school, an elementary student was told she could not write "Merry Christmas" on a card she was sending a soldier in Iraq as part of a class project. A nativity scene was yanked from a school play in Oklahoma. And an elementary school in Texas enacted a "white only" rule that stated cups and plates at the school's "winter party" had to be white and any icing on the cupcakes could not be red or green. Even candy canes have come under scrutiny, being banned in a Texas school because one legend of the candy cane was circulating that the red and white were representative of the blood of Christ washing our sins clean, and because the candy cane's shape is in the shape of a shepherd's hook, signifying Christ.

If we sit back and allow a few stubborn Scrooges to take Christ out of Christmas, we might as well fill all of our stockings with a lump of coal. It is for this reason that I applaud the resolution sent to the House floor last week that states symbols and traditions should be protected for those who celebrate Christmas.

But while I commend our Republican leadership for expressing their support of the protection of certain traditional symbols of Christmas, I find it ironic that it is these same leaders who are hesitant to protect the spirit of Christmas.

The spirit of Christmas is-and hopefully always will be-about goodwill and generosity to others and peace on earth. Yet the Republican leadership in Congress in the past weeks has passed a budget bill that literally takes food from the tables of our neediest citizens while cutting taxes for the rich-most recently a $95 billion cut for the wealthiest Americans. The Republican-written budget will force states to make up a $53 billion shortfall over the next five years and guts a number of essential programs that will negatively affect West Virginia families and their pocketbooks.

Congress continues to pour $5 billion a month into a war in Iraq, yet this Republican Congress doesn't even have a vision of the future for New Orleans, or the budget blueprint to resurrect this devastated city. We are investing billions of American taxpayer dollars for bridges, levees and infrastructure in Baghdad, yet we can't get a commitment from our leaders to strengthen America.

We all know actions speak louder than words. If the Republican leadership really wants to protect the traditions and meaning of this sacred holiday-as they claimed they do by voting in support of last week's resolution-these leaders need to join my colleagues and me in support of legislation that will protect those with the least and move us ALL closer to a more peaceful, more prosperous world.