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Danziger: Scrooged


Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

#EndorseThis: How The Trump Saved Christmas!

Just in time for Christmas, Jimmy Kimmel has a new children’s book that chronicles Trump and his quest to preserve the savior’s birthday from marauding, politically correct liberals.

Fully illustrated and told in funny rhymes, How The Trump Saved Christmas is sure to become a new seasonal classic. In this sample couplet, Jimmy captures the spirit behind Trump’s holiday crusade:

“It’s not that he cared one way or another;

It’s a hot-button issue that upsets your grandmother.”

Just click and chortle.

The War On Christmas: Right-Wingers, The Red Pope, and Jesus

Aah, ’tis the season for family, friends, eggnog, chipmunks singing Christmas carols — and all-out, no-mercy, blow-’em-all-to-hell war.

Not war like in Afghanistan. No, no — this is the far right’s God-awful “War on Christmas.” In this season of Peace on Earth, a delusional faction of rightists has cooked up a hokey “cultural crisis” to rally their own followers by fomenting hatred of … well, of whom? “Blasphemous-liberal-Democrat-atheist-humanists,” they shout!

The infidels are not accused of lobbing actual bombs in this “war,” but Words of Mass Destruction. Specifically, wail the purists, unholy left-wingers go around saying “happy holidays,” rather than “merry Christmas,” as Jesus taught us to say. Or was it Constantine the Great in the fourth century who came up with that?

Never mind, the rightists’ point is that diabolical lefties (i.e., Marxists) are out to ban Christmas entirely. Heroic defender of the faith Sarah Palin has even written a thin book about this devious plot, revealing that “happy holidays” is merely “the tip of the spear in a larger battle to … make true religious freedom a thing of America’s past.”

Luckily, note the Merry Christmas crusaders, there are such bright lights as Indiana State Sen. Jim Smith. Smith hopes to join Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee in the “Merry Christmas Club” — in pushing state laws to allow Christian icons and ceremonies into our schools. Then there’s U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn from Colorado. He and 35 of his fellow Republican congress critters have proposed a House resolution to protect Christmas. “A creche in every public space,” is their cry, “a cross on every city hall.” To hell with Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, etc.: This is war!

Actually, no, this is hokum, flimflammery, hoodoo, camel dung. It’s also insulting that they would attempt to try to generate a major social conflict over the fiction that the phrase “happy holidays” constitutes religious discrimination, whine that they are a repressed minority and equate it with war. First: Jews, Muslims and others don’t get to brand public spaces as their religious property. Second: Nearly three-fourths of Americans are Christian, so drop the put-upon martyr pose. And third: War really is hell, with blood, lifelong trauma and death, so stop pretending you’re in one.

But rationality doesn’t seem to be included in the liturgy of their political church. Indeed, some of its acolytes have added a twist on Christmas that would make Jesus weep. Indeed, they have launched a war against Jesus! How twisted is that? They say no one should mess with the word “Christmas,” yet they’re messing with the guy Christmas is supposed to be about.

OK, technically they’re not going directly at Jesus but rather at a key part of his message and, in particular, a key messenger of Christianity: Pope Francis! They’ve decided that the Pope is a “Marxist,” pointing out that Francis speaks often about “the structural causes of poverty,” the “idolatry of money,” and the “new tyranny” of unfettered capitalism. Obviously, say the Pontiff’s pious critics, that’s commie talk.

The clincher for them was when Francis wrote an exhortation in which he asked in outrage: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” See, cried the carpers, that’s proof that Francis is the Red Pope!

But wait, that was a very good question he asked, one ripe with the moral wrath that Jesus himself frequently showed toward the callous rich and their “love of money.” In fact, the Pope’s words ring with the deep ethics you find in Jesus’ sermon on the mount and in his admonitions to serve the poor. Was he a commie, too?

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: Pope Francis greets school children upon departure from the Vatican Embassy in Washington on day three of his first visit to the United States September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron   

Merry Christmas: The Message From The Manger

Celebrating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is a custom familiar to everyone raised in Western cultures, whether or not they happen to share the Christian faith. So important is Christmas to Americans that even the traditional holiday greeting is misused as a partisan weapon — seized by a political figure no less profane, irreligious, and insincere than Donald Trump, who proclaims he will restore its meaning.

Complaining peevishly of a mythical “war on Christmas,” the president-elect evidently believes the holiday’s most compelling aspect is the right to impose its observance on others who may not share his professed piety. In a country founded on freedom from religious coercion of any kind, Trump repeatedly promised to “assault” the domestic enemies of Christendom, which in the minds of Trump’s followers include Barack Obama and his family.  Never mind that on December 1, the president lit the National Christmas Tree in a ceremony aimed at unifying the country, regardless of faith or ethnicity, with musical stars singing carols and the first lady reading The Night Before Christmas.

For a politician who cannot correctly identify any portion of his favorite book, the Bible, such ferocious displays of piety reveal how little thought Trump has ever devoted to the real message of the Christmas story — which remains essential in a world where children, refugees, and the poor seem destined for ever greater suffering.

It is a story, not a history. The versions of the Nativity set forth in Scripture by Luke and Matthew differ in salient respects, but that should not matter to anyone who understands the difference between religious allegory and literal truth. Both those with faith and those without can find truth in the allegory, regardless of the narrative details.

Christmas tells us of a child born to a carpenter and his wife, impoverished working people living in ancient Judea, ruled by a distant dictatorial regime and its sanctioned local agents — the ruling elite of their era. Joseph and Mary were undeniably homeless and, according to one version of the story, they were refugees from political oppression, forced to migrate to another land. Rejected by society, the little family was driven into a manger — the equivalent of a cardboard shelter today — where Jesus was born in a cradle of straw amid the animals.

It is a story that we can imagine transpiring in our own time, among the Central American migrants, homeless in a California border town, or among the Syrian refugees, freezing and hungry in northern Greece. The analogy is clearly lost on politicians like Trump, who not only assure us that we need not concern ourselves with their fate, but that we must coldly spurn small children for the sake of our own comfort and safety. Almost in the same breath, these cynical hypocrites proclaim their eternal allegiance to Jesus.

The story is not a political or ideological discourse, but a parable of light delivered to a world of pain and darkness, on a date that happens to mark the winter solstice. Its infant prophet is a harbinger of universal love, an unequivocal embrace of the sinners, the impious, the unclean, the rejected, the foreigner, the stranger, the ill, and the poor. What does that story mean to leaders who spend their days deciding how to give the hungry less food, give the sick less medical care, and give the elderly less security, all for the sake of laying up still greater riches for those who are already too wealthy?

It is a story whose message pastors and theologians, not least among them Pope Francis, have reiterated every year in this season: that the spirit of God arrived on earth not clothed in power and glory, but embodied in a weak, tiny, and defenseless baby who endures cold, poverty, and rejection.

The face of that child is the face of every innocent child deprived of comfort and joy.  If only our culture warriors would declare a truce, stop angrily shouting “Merry Christmas!”  — and listen to what that child is trying to tell us.

IMAGE: Migrant children wait for the arrival of Father Christmas, with presents, at a gathering arranged by a local relief organization at a refugee camp in Hanau, Germany.