BECK: All right, for years now, it seems like the
war on Christmas has only been getting worse.
First, it was the mangers; then it was the trees;
and then the word itself. But now a school in
Illinois narrowly escaped having to ban the entire holiday.
Last night, the school board in Oak Lawn held an
emergency meeting with parents over rumors that
children in the district would celebrate "Winter
Festivals" instead of Christmas and a "Fall
Festival" instead of Halloween. It reportedly all
started when a Muslim parent asked for Jell-O to
be taken off the school menu and for her children
to be separated from others during the Ramadan
fast. That was OK with the school board, but
somehow or another it morphed into equal
celebration of all the holidays and has resulted
in some pretty outraged parents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s wrong. You`re in America. I`m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To try and take our culture
and wipe it from the face of the Earth is absolutely wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: So where does practical religious
accommodation end and catering to political
correctness begin? Dr. Zudhi Jasser, he is from
the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and
Ahmed Rehab, he is the executive director of the
Council on American Islamic Relations in Chicago.
Let me start with you, Ahmed. You said -- and I
want to get this quote right here -- you said
that, "Some of the locals don`t come across as
incredibly educated. There`s Budweiser anger there." What do you mean by that?
AHMED REHAB, EXEC. DIR., CAIR-CHICAGO: I mean it
is not the type of America that we are aspiring
to have. It is not the pluralistic, inclusive,
educated America that we try to teach our
children to embrace. They’re trying to exclude
Muslims from celebrating their festivities. No
Muslim involved in this raucous at any point
wanted to remove Christmas or Hanukkah or even
Halloween from the school festivities. All they
wanted to do was to bring in Ramadan. And some of
the parents -- who were essentially racist --
felt that this threatened their very being and
decided to take the decorations down, couldn’t tolerate that.
BECK: It’s cool to throw around the "racist"
word, but let’s try to keep this a civilized
discussion here, because there are a lot of
people that are a little upset, and it’s not just
at Muslims. I mean, all the religions are upset
at each other for trying to trample on the
others. And I have no problem. If you want to be
separated because of a fast for Ramadan or you
want your children to be removed, that’s fine,
but what about the Jell-O thing? I mean, you’re
going to -- nobody can have Jell-O because your children can’t have Jell-O?
REHAB: Christians are welcome to have
pork-fortified Jell-O if they want. Muslims don’t
have to have that. Jews don’t have to have that.
BECK: All right, so they don’t have to have the Jell-O.
REHAB: Well, exactly, but you’d need to offer a
different type of Jell-O that doesn’t have
gelatin, pork gelatin, in it, and give that
option to the Muslim and Jewish students.
BECK: All right.
Zudhi, the mom just wanted to hang decorations
for Ramadan. That’s how it all started. She just
wanted to hang decorations for Ramadan. What`s wrong with that?
DR. M. ZUHDI JASSER, AMERICAN ISLAMIC FORUM FOR
DEMOCRACY: Well, I think educating people about
Ramadan -- you know, I`m fasting. I always answer
the question about, why am I not drinking water?
Why am I not eating? I think education is important.
But decorations and trying to impose sort of a
celebratory phenomenon I think crosses the line
of church and state, not to mention that, in
Muslim societies, we certainly celebrate the end
of Ramadan, but during Ramadan, actually, I think
what’s happening here is you have Muslims who are
demanding to be American rather than Muslims that happen to be American.
And, you know, it’s interesting that they seem to
find little battles to impose their political
stances and balkanization of Muslim identity. And
I really think it’s not the way to approach our
current situation, when so many Americans are
fearing so many things about transnational Islamism.
BECK: Would you like to respond to that, Ahmed?
REHAB: Yeah, there is absolutely no imposition of
anyone’s culture here. I think Mr. Zudhi Jasser
is being rather hypocritical when he says that
it`s OK to have Christmas in a 50-50 school -- 50
percent of the population in that school are
Muslim, 50 percent are other things, including
Christian. And if you can’t tell how the children....
REHAB: you can’t tell half the children that you can celebrate Christmas. and turn around and tell to the other
half of the kids, listen, you`re somehow
second-class citizens, your festivities are not celebrated, keep it in your homes.
JASSER: So you`d like to see America turned into
a competition of holidays, from the holidays for
Buddhism and Sikh and Hindu? And should we have
all of a sudden every other weekend a celebration for....
REHAB: no one is saying that. That is a leap of folly. I will not even call that a leap of faith.
That is a leap of folly. Nobody`s making that giant leap.
JASSER: There is one holiday in this country that
has a religious base, and it’s Christmas.
JASSER: There is one holiday in this country that is religious based and that’s christmas
REHAB: This is a school with 50% Muslim students
REHAB: We’re not asking for malls -- listen,
we’re not asking for malls to start celebrating
Ramadan. We’re not asking for schools where there
are a couple of Muslims to have anything beyond an educational canvas about Ramadan...
BECK: If you happen -- Ahmed, if you happen to go
up where there`s 50 percent, let`s just -- I`m
just making this up -- 50 percent Wiccan, and it
was all Muslim before that, but there`s 50
percent Wiccan, you cool with, you know, doing the pagan stuff in the school?
REHAB: Well, I think it`s a preposterous comparison, because...
BECK: No, no, sir.
REHAB: Well, listen...
BECK: You know, 50 years ago, it would have been
ridiculous to say -- it would have been
ridiculous, sir, to say 50 years ago, to say that about America being...
REHAB: ... Islam is a global religion. With 1.5 billion..
REHAB: no, you can’t compare
BECK: OK. So in other words, you`re saying that
Wiccans -- are you saying, sir, that Wiccan is
not a religion? Are you saying that Wiccans are not a legitimate religion?
REHAB: It is to some people, but it`s not
comparable to Christianity, Islam or Judaism or
any of the other large faiths in this country.
BECK: Zuhdi, thank you very much. Ahmed, as always, thank you.