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We’re all going to have to push to get Detroit rolling

Guy W. Farmer
Special to the Appeal

The good citizens of my old home state of Washington won’t have a very Merry Christmas this year because of an ugly confrontation between Christians and atheists at the State Capitol in Olympia. The dispute has triggered a war of words between Fox News bloviator-in-chief Bill O’Reilly and Washington’s politically correct governor, Christine Gregoire, a liberal Democrat.

According to O’Reilly, “Gregoire has insulted Christians all over the world” by allowing a group of militant atheists to post a giant anti-religious placard alongside a traditional Capitol Nativity scene. “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell,” the placard reads. “Religion is but myth and superstition…” And so on.

“The governor of Washington state has permitted an attack on religion to be displayed in her office building as part of a Christmas presentation,” O’Reilly wrote in a recent column, noting that Christmas is an official federal holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

Even though I’m not a particularly religious person, I think it’s entirely appropriate for a federal holiday to honor the birth of Christ if another celebrates the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ” also entirely appropriate, I hasten to add.

And besides, I’m not threatened by Christmas trees or manger scenes. Are you?

In O’Reilly’s opinion (and mine), “Seattle now rivals San Francisco for secular-progressive nuttiness. The city fathers are allowing public nakedness and nude bike riding in city parks and in the Fremont district, they actually put up a statue honoring Vladimir Lenin, the father of communism.”

And earlier this year the city was forced to remove its new super-modern public toilets after homeless people occupied them en masse.

This certainly isn’t the blue-collar Seattle that I grew up in. Perhaps the “nuttiness” that O’Reilly condemns is the result of too much caffeine consumption in the nation’s coffee capital. But seriously, I worry about my 4-year-old twin grandsons growing up in such a place, although their parents ” my beautiful daughter and her hard-working husband ” maintain strong family values at their home in Snohomish County, a more conservative Seattle suburb.

As O’Reilly notes, “Outside of the Seattle area, Washington state is fairly conservative. But the big-city population base rules and far-left zealots are running wild.” Therefore, it’s no surprise that downtown Seattle is represented in Congress by “Baghdad” Jim McDermott, a left-wing Democrat who want to turn Iraq and Afghanistan over to al-Qaida and/or the Taliban.

President-elect Barack Obama, who would rather defend America, is far too moderate for McDermott and his fellow travelers. For them, we’re the root of all evil. Blame America first! That’s their motto.

As for Gov. Gregoire, she was first elected in 2004 in a hotly disputed race with Republican State Sen. Dino Rossi, who held a narrow lead before hundreds of homeless voters suddenly materialized in downtown Seattle. Gregoire defeated Rossi again in last month’s nationwide Democratic landslide.

I agree with O’Reilly that “most Americans, even those living in far-left enclaves, respect uplifting traditions like Christmas, where peace and love is the theme of the great day.” So why should Gov. Gregoire permit a handful of militant atheists to destroy the Christmas spirit in her state?

The U.S. Constitution clearly states that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights,” including freedom of religion, and freedom from religion, for that matter. But when it comes to Christmas, a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ in a spirit of love and forgiveness, can’t we put our differences aside for a few days and enjoy the things that bring us together as Americans? Or is that too much to ask? Merry Christmas!

– Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.