For being a “Judeo-Christian nation,” we get that “Judeo” part wrong an awful lot. So often, in fact, that Bible-thumping politicians who extend a false olive branch to the Jewish people, wishing them a Merry Jewish Christmas, is an age-old tradition. Whether it’s Bush, who observed that “I couldn’t imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah, or the joy of Christmas, or celebrating peace and hope,” or Scott Walker getting supercharged to recognize the “Eight Days of Chanukah” — with the quotation marks original. He even lit a “Chanukah candle” for Christmas.
Even Rick Santorum got involved; Santorum loves the holiday so much that he gave out a Hanukkah card in 2012, complete with a quote from the New Testament:
This year, however, it’s Rick Perry’s turn. While officiating a candle lightning, Perry lived down to what we’ve come to expect from the man: somewhere in Perry’s mind, Hanukkah became a patriotic holiday for the United States:
It is fitting that the first night of Chanukah falls this year on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The same spirit of freedom that inspired the Maccabees to rise up against a foreign empire motivated our Founding Fathers to rebel against the Crown on that fateful night.
“They knew, as the Jewish people know, that the few can overcome the many, that right can defeat might, that faith can transcend persecution. No matter how vast the darkness, all it takes is one candle to spread the light.
As individuals with more than a passing knowledge of Jewish history know, there’s a connection between the Maccabees — a group of pre-modern ultra-nationalists that rebelled against the Greeks (who were treating them a lot worse than the British treated the Americans) — and a group known to some readers of the Bible as “the Pharisees.” A direct connection; as in, the Maccabees were the forerunners of the group that Jesus is traditionally placed at odds against.
Which makes that praise really ironic, given how Jesus would feel about the Religious Right today.
Your additional Hanukkah fact: the traditional etymology of “Maccabees” traces it back to Hebrew maqqabh, or “hammer,” which is what Perry is dumber than a sack of.
Our Republic, like the light of the ancient Menorah, has lasted longer than anyone could have predicted. America remains a beacon of hope in difficult times for the world. And Chanukah reminds us of the power of faith to sustain a nation and ensure the security of our ally, Israel.
I’m confused. Was this about Hanukkah or the United States?
I love how he’s drawing comparisons between our Republic and a relatively unimportant holiday in grand scheme of Judaism.
At any rate, Happy Jewish Christmas, everyone. And Hanukkah, too, for those who celebrate it, as that holiday that actually exists.