Monday, November 28, 2005


Thanks to Zoraster for pointing out the confusion this post could cause, if it's not apparent that I've blockquoted an e-mail in here. Below that is my commentary on it. Here's the quote:


Look who is getting their own 'Christmas stamp', but don't plan on putting a Nativity Scene on federal property?

USPS New Stamp

This one is impossible to believe. Scroll down for the text.

If there is only one thing you forward today.....let it be this!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm Flight 103!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military barracks in Saudi Arabia!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American Embassies in Africa!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on 9/11/2001!

REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!

Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class
holiday postage stamp.

REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp when purchasing your stamps at the post office.

To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.

REMEMBER to pass this along to every patriotic AMERICAN you know!

And here's my commentary:
Okay, this is what pisses me off about that e-mail. I got it from otherwise well-meaning and (I believe) good Christian members of my family. They fell for the inflammatory rhetoric in the message, just as their friends did, and just as each of their friends did in a long chain going back to the year 2002 when this first started.

This message assumes that because the participants in the above-mentioned terrorist activities claimed to be Muslim that they represent all Muslims and that, as a result, Islam doesn't deserve a place in the US. Timothy McVeigh claimed to be Christian, but Christian groups don't claim him. The same is true of these terrorist groups. They're called "extremists" for a REASON. Their beliefs are extreme, outside the accepted mainstream of the religions they claim to represent. The fact that a religion sprouts extremist splinter groups does not lead to the logical conclusion that the religion itself (or its peaceful mainstream practitioners) should be denigrated.

Another gaping hole in the logic here is that the author equates Eid Al-Fitr (or Eid Al-Adha, they both use the same stamp) with Christmas. News flash: Muslims don't worship Jesus as a God or celebrate his birth as a Holy Day. There is no correlation between them. The first holiday mentioned (Eid Al-Fitr) is the end of Ramadan, a month of daytime fasting that roughly parallels the Christian season of Lent in a spiritual sense of self-denial, sacrifice, and preparation. There is no theological relationship. The second (Eid Al-Adha) celebrates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. Note that in Christianity the tradition holds that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac (child of his wife Sarah) and not Ishmael (son of Sarah's handmaiden).

Next, it ties the introduction of this stamp, which is part of a series celebrating holidays of several cultural and religious traditions (Christmas, Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo, Hanukkah) to the placement of Nativity Scenes on federal property in observation of Christian holidays. If there was an Eid stamp, and no Christmas stamp, I could see a problem. That would constitute (in my mind) favoritism of the Islamic observations of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha over the Christian observation of Christmas. However, that IS NOT THE CASE. Anyone who's been to the post office lately knows that the USPS is happy to help you with all your Christmas needs, including selling you stamps with sacred or "festive" (read: non-religious) Christmas designs. So, the religions are being roughly equally represented at the post office. What this e-mail does, though, is tap into the festering heat surrounding the political issue of religious symbology (like "10 Commandments" memorials or nativity scenes) on public property. It's clever, rhetorically, to tie these two unrelated issues together, because it pulls along those readers who favor the placement of religious symbols on public property. You've probably gathered by now that I don't favor such placement, unless it's done in a completely representative way. If Nativity Scenes are placed in front of the post office at Christmas, then we need Skeletons for Dia de los Muertos, Menorahs for Hanukkah, green flags for Hajj, and Mugs of Marinara for Pastafarian Day, etc.

Okay, I'm done steaming. Just remember, when you buy those Christmas cards that say "Peace on Earth! Goodwill to Men!" that you're asking the recipients (hey, maybe even your own self!) to show Good Will to All Men, not just "Good Christian Men". As the Archbishop Desmond Tutu said recently: "All, all, all, all, all, all, all, all. All belong."

And, for the love of $Deity, learn to use SNOPES.


Anonymous said...

Got here from Sepia mutiny. I think you're spot on.

zoraster said...

At first I was reading the e-mail as your writing and wondering how you could seem so cool one second and sound so retarded the next.

I was glad to see that you were just reposting someone else's neurosis.

The new word going around is that the post office is no longer issuing Christian themed Christmas stamps. Combined with this, it might just be enough to send a few right wing whack jobs straight to the loony bin so I say distribute more!

zoraster said...

oh forgot to mention that post office is NOT dropping the Christian stamps, it's just more whining from the War on Christmas crowd

Thalassa said...

Thanks for pointing out the confusion this one could cause. It was unclear until the middle of the post whether I had steam coming out my ears over the stamp, or the protest to the stamp. I've edited a bit to make it more clear from the start that I'm protesting the protesters, not the stamp.