Martin Bashir | November 29, 2012
>>> according to some political commentators, the wars in afghanistan and iraq are not the longest that this country has been fighting. no, there is another conflict that's been raging for decades, and it's called the war on christmas .
>> christmas was made an official holiday to honor the birth of somebody called jesus christ .
>> it's unbelievable to me that we try to cover that up.
>> it's not just the christmas tree . it's everything, all right?
>> but what do you mean --
>> our traditions are absolutely imploding.
>> joining me now is tom brecker of the thomas moore society. good afternoon, sir.
>> good afternoon, martin.
>> as i came to work this morning, there was the peerless sound of etta james singing the christmas song at a coffee shop . i walked down successful streets and avenues literally dripping in christmas decorations . right outside of my office is the eight-story rockefeller center christmas tree . at the white house , staff have spent days decking the halls of the presidential residence there in the most beautiful christmas decorations in all their glory. i have children who have appeared in multiple nativity plays and i myself will be reading one of the lessons at a cathedral midnight service on christmas eve , but fox news says there is a war on christmas . am i missing something, sir?
>> well, i think there's no war on christmas . i think there's an issue about something we all agree on, martin, and that is the first amendment. and the first amendment has two parts to it. one is freedom from religion and that applies to government. the other part is freedom of religion , and that belongs to private citizens like you, me, and everybody else in this country. and the issue is when private citizens want to express their belief that christ is at the center of christmas and display a nativity scene or an overtly religious depiction of the significance of christmas , there are government efforts to suppress that.
>> how so, sir? how so?
>> well, how so? it happens, unfortunately, all too often, but increasingly we're having and enjoying a lot of success and we're doing that here in illinois and also elsewhere.
>> but i'm delighted to hear you say that there is no war on christmas because i find it hard to imagine that there is one. but with regard to the specific issue of arlington heights where there was some sort of controversy, wasn't this because your client didn't actually fill out the paperwork properly. and, in fact, an attorney for the arlington heights park district said this, there's no real controversy. if you want to use a park for any purpose, there's a form. so i have to ask you, is this not an example of people almost wanting to warmonger a christmas -- a war on christmas where none really exists?
>> well, martin, you're referring to our client, jim finnegan, of the illinois nativity scene committee, and jim went to meet the folks at arlington heights and believe me, he had a privately owned , privately sponsored nativity scene , and from that meeting he went away with word it had been rejected. maybe there was a misunderstanding. we're happy to say if there was a misunderstanding, so be it, let's move on. he's filling out forms now. believe me, nobody offered him forms. nobody said we're rejecting it because of forms. they will be filled out and i have every expectation and hope that the nativity scene will be displayed in arlington heights along with santa claus , frosty the snowman , the dancing elves and the other secular symbols of christmas .
>> of course.
>> and i hope there will be a menorah there. i hope there will be a crescent. everybody --
>> wonderful. you have said earlier in this interview that there were multiple cases. is that the smoking gun case that's about to be resolved? is that the best you can offer, sir?
>> i think -- the best i can offer? i don't know. i think we're going to have the nativity scene there. that's what we're looking for. everybody should rejoice in that. there is another nativity scene that we've got down in the rotunda of the united states capit capitol, and that's not government speech , martin. that's individual or a group speech of people who have a point of view. that's the first amendment. there are political rallies there. the streets and parks in this country are owned by the government, but they're held in trust for the people. so, you see, this is a first amendment issue.
>> i'm sure all of us can agree on it.
>> i'm delighted that you yourself on our broadcast have said there is no war on christmas . can i ask then, do you think it's time that people at fox news cease and desisted with this ludicrous manufacturing of a war on christmas that they seem to be obsessed with? very briefly if you can.
>> well, you know, martin, the term war on christmas is a metaphor. there's a lot of misunderstanding. i look at a positive way at the success we're having and i want to be able to exercise their first amendment rights and put up nativity scenes in every public forum in the country.
>> tom, thank you so much for joining us and a very happy and merry christmas to you, sir.
>> and the same to you, martin. thank you, and to everybody watching.