Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Breaking News: Not Everyone Celebrates Christmas and Not Everyone Should Be a Reporter

Ugh. I remember a time long ago in J-School when I learned it was a reporter's job to report without bias, without imprinting his/her opinion, and without verbiage that leads the reader to unsubstantiated conclusions. I was told to let the facts speak for themselves. Lo and behold an article from Reuters comes along with an update on the Seattle Rabbi who is drawing the ire of the general population's ignorant sect, when he asked Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to recognize more than just one religion this holiday season.

The Rabbi asked the airport's officials to install an 8-foot Menorah as a compliment to the 9 to 14 Christmas trees (depending on which article you read). It's a simple request to recognize there is more than one religion celebrating its happytime holiday in December. The Rabbi did ask for an official Menorah lighting ceremony, but if there was no Christmas tree lighting event, it's only fair to not have one for the Menorah. Fine. Let's not have a lighting ceremony and just setup the Menorah so we can all go home and sleep well. If only common sense would ever prevail.

The Rabbi's desire to have equal (as equal as 1 Menorah is to 14 trees) representation and acknowledgement is fair and understandable, so why do members of the media (not those talking heads/pundits) still insinuate the Rabbi is wrong? Snippets of the lazy Reuters writing follows:

..Seattle airport officials took down its Christmas trees in response to his request to include a giant Menorah in the airport's holiday decorations...

Excuse me? A "giant Menorah"? Some of the trees are 15-feet tall (depending on the source) so how does that make the single Menorah "giant"? A 20-foot Menorah would be giant, gaudy, and probably a fire hazard.

...Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky threatened to sue the Port of Seattle, which operates the airport, if it did not include a menorah into its holiday decorations.

Nevermind that threatening legal action isn't worthwhile because the trial probably wouldn't occur until it'd be time for a Valentine's Day lawsuit, but the copy editor needs to ensure Menorah is properly written with a capital "M". This has nothing to do with this post's central topic, but the editor has to take some blame - not only for the "m", but for the article's content.

The removal of the trees sparked a public outcry over what some say was political correctness run amok and part of a trend to adopt a secular tone toward Christmas.

Mr. or Ms. Reporter, would you mind quoting a specific person instead of letting us know that some say this? Just how many people is some? Political correctness run amok is one way for the majority to hide behind its desire to keep ignoring the minority. A secular tone toward Christmas is patently ignorant. Heaven forbid the some realize the world is not viewed only through their faith's eyes. 33% of the world follows a faith that celebrates Christmas, so by my shoddy math that means 66% of the world doesn't. Let's ignore that and, while we're at it, the Constitution that requires all faiths to be recognized. While I'm here, public outcry is way over-the-top.

A fine movie on TBS a few weekends every year...and Reuters' style of writing.

The rest of the article reads well, but thanks to the inverted pyramid, the majority of readers (because most aren't of a certain mindset) will gather that the Rabbi, and therefore all Jews, hates Christmas - nothing could be further from the truth.

I wanted to post this entry last night until news came that the airport was reinstalling the 14(?) trees (some of which were 15-20 feet tall) in the airport. Courtesy of the Associated Press:

Airport managers believed that if they allowed the addition of an 8-foot-tall menorah to the display, as Seattle Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky had requested, they would also have to display symbols of other religions and cultures.

It's okay to only display Christmas trees and no other religions? How can someone be so insensitive? If the airport managers were in the Rabbi's shoes and saw what it was like to not have your faith placed on equal footing (bad pun), they would certainly have come to a different decision.

Airport workers did not have time to do that during the busy travel season, Airport Director Mark Reis said.

It really takes THAT much time to setup the Menorah and plug it in? How about installing "only" 13 trees and using the time that would've been spent on the 14th tree to setup the Menorah instead? As long as it's not a union issue, I'm sure the Rabbi would gladly setup the Menorah for Mr. Reis. I'm sure Mark Reis is a very busy person, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have enough time to be anything more than a coward.

Is it that hard for those sending hate mail and leaving angry phone calls to understand where the Rabbi is coming from? What if the airport was adorned with dreidals, Menorahs, and manequins wearing Uwole, and every worker asked how your Eid was? The some would suddenly feel disrespected that they and their beliefs weren't recognized in a public building. The Rabbi never asked to remove the trees, but to just add one (not 14) Menorahs. Asking to be recognized with a tree in the lobby would suddenly become a priority for the ignoramuses.

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