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    December 25

    My memory, which can be less than photographic sometimes before surprising with a sharp and verifiable recollection of obscure events long ago, says that the device of calling this day "December 25" was imposed on me during childhood. Whether that is so or not, I have found it as convenient a way to mark a holiday I do not celebrate, but which overwhelms the country in which I live, and much of the western world.

    I don't begrudge it or Christians. I was married to one for many years and she wanted a tree, so I bought a tree. My daughter, who probably sees herself more Jewish than anything else, loves the holiday and, as a young adult, bought her own tree this year.
    So. Good.

    I even have my own memories of the holiday, like my sister and I watching the house where the only non-Jewish family on our street lived to see whether anything happened at about midnight, like vainly driving everywhere there was near my in laws to find someplace to buy a newspaper, preferably the one that says, "Today is Christmas Day! Remember the neediest!" (which, by the way, it still does, both in print and on its website. And, yes, I have done the Chinese food and movie thing. (I may do the Chinese today; less likely the movie). I love watching the Jimmy Stewart "It's a Wonderful Life" even if it has its downer aspects, and yes, the Lakers and Cs will be (I hope) a great way to relive December 25ths (and great Junes) of the past.

    And I also love the quiet and the stoppage of commerce of this day, even in a year when commerce seems to be stopping quite on its own.

    But, almost more than anything, today reminds me of why I love the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving Day so much. It is not simply because I revel in the rituals of our country, though I do. It is because those days, and Super Sunday, I guess, are days when I do not feel apart: when the sense that we are all in this together is in the air. More importantly, I think, the sense that all of this is not for me, and there is sooooo much of "all of this," is faintly off putting; sort of like being the last guy picked for the pick up baseball game at the playground.

    And that is part of what has made me reconsider and give serious thought to what it means for gays, especially those who so ardently supported his election, to hear that the President-elect has asked Rick Warren to appear at his inauguration. As with many of my own ilk, whose sexual preferences run only toward the opposite sex (lesbianism, of course, makes more sense to me but let's not get into that), I considered the loud screams of pain to be a sign of intolerance for the views of others that I thought we were past and disregarded the apparent hurt on that basis.

    I still think that there is excessive intolerance for the views of those with whom we disagree. Even in our antiwar youth, the idea of hooting or shouting down someone who says something with which we do not agree, has repelled me. I used to religiously read the National review and Buckley's column just to see what They are thinking. (Often they were trying to find ways to make people with whom I agreed shut up).

    The pain expressed by Rachel Maddow and others whose work is important to me has moved me, however, to begin to view the Pastor Warren invitation as I might have felt if, say, President Roosevelt invited Father Coughlin to do the same thing at his inauguration. (I was not born until exactly 19 years after that inauguration, but you get my point, don't you? If you don't click here).

    And then I heard "Morning Joe" (the truly obnoxious former Congressman Joe Scarborough) and Pat Buchanan (the even more repulsive would be nazi---if you have a benign view of him click on the link midway in this essay about one of Nixon's chief apologists and acolytes) bait Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart into a) discussing his own sexual preference so as to b) explain why he believes gays she be allowed to marry.

    And it all came together for me. The two baby fascists kept yelling at Capehart (who by himself can prove that intellectual gay men are hardly "sissies") demanding that he explain why judges or courts (sneer, sneer) should be allowed to overrule the majority of voters who voted against gay marriage.

    The answer is, of course, simple (even if the question may not be an accurate report of the views of the majority of "voters"). The answer lies in why we celebrate Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July and the idea of the United States of America.

    Because the United States of America came into being because of people who believed in the power of law, in the right of the people to make those laws through a representative democracy---a republican form of government--- subject, though, to the guarantee of the rights of the minority, set down in a Bill of Rights. Some of our countrymen had a blind spot toward a particular race, and the rest of us have had one toward other minorities, but the goal, and the meaning of our country, one founded on the view of "certain inalienable rights" is that the law will protect those rights. The people who fled here on the Mayflower, and countless others since them, did so because their rights to be who they are, to celebrate what they want (and not to celebrate when they do not want) were not only unrecognized, they were often the excuse for beatings, pogroms, wars, and holocausts.

    That's why Pat. That's why Morning Joe.

    So now, finally, I get it. Pastor Warren should either apologize for his hateful comments comparing gays to the most repulsive of people, or requiring them to repent of their sexual preference before being allowed to pray in his church, or he should be asked not to appear at a national gathering celebrating a new beginning. I am all for considering the views of those with whom I do not agree, but a line has been crossed.

    Merry Christmas.

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