Manhunt intensifies for Berlin Christmas market attacker
A massive manhunt was underway Wednesday for the driver of a truck that was intentionally crashed into a Berlin Christmas market, leaving 12 people dead and 48 injured. BERLIN — A massive manhunt was underway Wednesday for the driver of a truck that was intentionally crashed into a Berlin Christmas market, leaving 12 people dead and 48 injured.
© Mark Lennihan, File In this Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, file photo, traffic passes the New York Times building, in New York.
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The New York Times recently published an article purporting to trace the history of the “War on Christmas.” The article concludes that “there is no evidence of an organized attack on Christmas in the United States,” and expressed skepticism about the “alleged liberal antagonism toward the holiday.”
As the author would tell it, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly stirred up the passions of his viewers based on a book written in 2005 by another Fox News host, John Gibson, entitled “The War on Christmas.”
Attack Sets Off Hunt for Tunisian Who Had Slipped Germany’s Grasp
The identity of the Tunisian, Anis Amri, who had been labeled a security threat and was supposed to have been deported months ago, alarmed intelligence officials.The identity of the Tunisian, Anis Amri, immediately alarmed intelligence officials from Europe to Washington. He had done online research on how to make explosive devices and had communicated with the Islamic State at least once, via Telegram Messenger, American officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the current investigation, said Wednesday evening. He was also on a United States no-fly list, according to the officials.
John Gibson interviewed me for that book, and I detailed the legal battles I and others had fought against Christmas censorship from the mid-1980s. I even wrote a book in 1987 on the topic that detailed ongoing efforts to suppress celebrating or observing the religious aspects of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ.
I can confidently say that the “War on Christmas” was not concocted by people at Fox News in 2005. It really happened. I know because I was there.
Here are three ways the New York Times article got it wrong about the “War on Christmas”:
1. The “War On Christmas” is real, and started well before Fox News even existed
Here’s just one example. When I worked at Concerned Women for America, we litigated a case against the Seminole County, Florida School District in 1985 in which officials at the Tuscawilla Middle School removed the songs, “Silent Night” and “Hanukkah Dance” from the middle school choir concert on the objection of one parent.
Can technology stop another truck attack?
The attack on a Berlin Christmas market showed the devastation that can be wrought by the simple act of driving a truck into crowds, and the problems in preventing another massacre.The attack in Germany on Monday, in which 11 people were killed by the truck in addition to the murder of the Polish driver, mirrored a militant raid in the French city of Nice in July that killed 86.
Officials at another school in the same district at a different school stopped a second grader, Olivia Myers, from passing out homemade Christmas cards to her classmates because they had a sticker of Jesus on them.
At another middle school in the district, the PTA sponsored a contest to decorate classroom doors. The two students selected to create the art for one classroom door chose a nativity scene of Jesus’ birth, and the teacher ordered it removed because of perceived Establishment Clause concerns.
Just before trial, we settled the case out of court with the school district changing its policy to allow school music programs to “contain music that is religious in nature.” It also allowed the school to “use themes traditionally associated with a particular holiday season” and to allow classroom displays of religious themes if they were not prompted by the teacher and contained nonreligious symbols. And the school paid some monetary damages to the students involved.
ISIS-linked news agency releases video of Berlin attacker swearing allegiance to the radical group
The 24-year-old Tunisian suspect Anis Amri, who was fatally shot by police early Friday in Italy, had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State.The 24-year-old Tunisian, Anis Amri, was killed following a dramatic encounter in the Piazza I Maggio in the Sesto San Giovanni area outside Milan, after a two-man patrol stopped him for questioning around 3:15 a.m. on suspicion of burglary.
I litigated this case. It was not made up by Fox News (which did not exist until 1996) or by anyone else. And this is not an isolated incident. The ACLU and its allies provoked many more examples of Christmas censorship with its lawsuits.
2. The ACLU filed numerous lawsuits to suppress public observances of Christmas
Beginning in the 1970’s, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed many lawsuits to stop Christmas observances in public schools, city halls, and other governmental entities. The New York Times quotes a carefully worded statement by an ACLU spokesperson that downplays the concerted efforts the ACLU and its allies engaged in to censor Christmas in public venues in the past. The ACLU’s efforts were real and systematic. They created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation and disinformation about what the law said about Christmas.
The ACLU has filed suit to keep school districts from singing religious Christmas carols. It has also filed suits to prevent the display of nativity scenes and other Christmas symbols like a Christmas tree and a menorah.
For Wade and others, NBA Christmas games remain a privilege
Christmas has already been celebrated at Dwyane Wade's house. His wife and kids unwrapped their presents on Wednesday night, since waiting until Sunday morning wasn't an option this year.Dad's got to work. Again.
The ACLU lost a major case it filed in 1980 to eliminate the singing of religious Christmas carols in public schools. A federal appeals court ruled that singing religious songs could have a legitimate pedagogical purpose in a public school. In fact, there is no court decision anywhere that says it is unconstitutional to sing religious songs, including Christmas carols, in public schools. Yet many people wrongly believe that. When I spoke about this topic, I would carry a copy of the court decision ruling against the ACLU’s extreme views to show disbelieving audience members that it existed.
In another case the ACLU lost, the Supreme Court upheld the city’s use of the nativity scene because it also contained a number of secular Christmas symbols, such as Santa’s sleigh and carolers. However, the Supreme Court did declare in another ACLU lawsuit in 1989 that a nativity scene violates the Constitution, adding to the cultural zeitgeist that celebrating Christmas publicly was somehow inappropriate.
So the ACLU conducted a litigation campaign to suppress the observance of Christmas in public schools and other government venues. Some of the cases succeeded, but many failed. And all of these cases occurred well before the existence of Fox News. These are just a few examples.
Europe may face a grim future with terrorism as a fact of life
Even as security officials say they’re foiling big plots, small-scale attacks seem inevitable.European Union leaders say they have swept away barriers among security agencies and bolstered border controls in the wake of a year of terrorist attacks capped by the assault on one of Berlin’s bustling Christmas markets. But missed signals before and after Monday’s violence raises questions about whether the changes — or any changes — are enough to prevent a repeat of a year that saw a double-bombing in Brussels, slaughter-by-truck in Nice, France, and shooting carnage in a Munich mall before the Berlin violence that killed 12 and wounded dozens more.
3. People resisted the “War on Christmas” because they knew firsthand it was real
Fox News did not rile up gullible people to fight a war against Christmas that did not exist. This out-of-touch thinking by the New York Times assumes that most people who watch Fox News are easily manipulated. People responded to John Gibson’s book and Bill O’Reilly’s protests against these efforts to suppress Christmas because they had experienced it firsthand.
Many knew from their own experience that businesses, feeling that social pressure, began ordering their workers to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” That happened to me. In the early 2000’s, I was flying on Continental Airlines in December. As we landed, the flight attendant wished us all, “Happy Holidays” over the intercom. As we disembarked, I asked the flight attendant if Continental Airlines would allow her to say, “Merry Christmas” to the passengers on the plane. “Oh no,” she said. “I would be written up if I did that.”
Alliance Defending Freedom looked into this matter and others like it. We saw many such instances around the nation. We also learned that 92% of all Americans – which includes many non-Christians – celebrate Christmas. Even so, businesses who are free to have their employees wish people a Merry Christmas opted to suppress the greeting. Many public schools violated the freedom of speech rights of their students by censoring their Christmas art projects and Christmas carols.
In 2003, the problem became so widespread that ADF formally launched an effort to combat the fear, intimidation and disinformation spread by the ACLU and its allies via these Christmas censorship lawsuits – two years before John Gibson published his book.
And we’ve had some success. The more extreme forms of Christmas censorship that we saw 10 and 20 years ago seem to be receding, due to the efforts by ADF and many others to bring a balanced, reasonable approach to the Christmas observances. People agreed with ADF and Fox News and others that the War on Christmas was real and wanted an end to hostilities.
Our increasingly diverse nation tends to fragment unless we have common values or touch points that bring us together. A holiday that points us to love one another as God first loved us, and has us give generously to others is something many people think worthy of preserving and that everyone benefits by doing so. That is why so many people agreed to resist the efforts to suppress the religious aspects of Christmas.
The New York Times missed this important aspect of this cultural phenomenon with its scoffing denial that Christmas censorship ever happened. So, next time the New York Times runs a piece like this, perhaps its author should talk to people who were actually in the fight, not just those who started it.
Horns blare as Polish trucker killed before Berlin attack buried .
Truckers honked their horns across Poland in homage to Lukasz Urban, the registered driver of the lorry hijacked in the Berlin Christmas market attack, who was buried on Friday. The 37-year-old's funeral in the northwestern village of Banie was attended by Polish President Andrzej Duda as well as officials from Poland and Germany."We're extremely sad... Lukasz was really good to everyone, he never said no to anyone," childhood friend Danuta Jurewicz, 34, told AFP.