Jesus Was Not Crucified On a 7-Foot Balsam Fir Nor Is Santa's Sleigh Running The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse Outta Town

I've largely stayed out of the far right's and Bill O'Reilly's latest attempt to use the holidays as a cause flambe to make it seem like everyone is against any expression of Christmas whatsoever.

What thoroughly baffles me, however, is the way some issues get tangled up in wholly different ones. For example, righteous outrage manipulator Bill O'Reilly got a big hand up on the "why do they hate Christmas" hate wagon when a rabbi complained about a Christmas tree at Seattle's Sea-Tac airport that got the airport to take it down only to turn around and put it back up again.

First and foremost, even Christians seem happy to twist religion around popular observance.

The Christmas tree as we know it today is NOT a Christian symbol. It just isn't. In fact, as some third graders can - and perhaps should - tell their parents, our celebration of the holiday tree has its roots in pagan tree worship. Even as it became blended into relatively recent history (and a tree as a regular part of Christmas is very recent), the Christmas tree still does not represent the birth of Christ; it's just a nice decoration many people put up this time of year.

Also, while there are occurrences of "Santa" like people throughout history in many countries, today's American Santa Claus is more of an invention of U.S. retailers than anything else.

Fools like O'Reilly - who love to manipulate fear and hate this time of year instead of more appropriate ones such as love and peace - make it sound like Jesus was sacrificed on the Christmas tree while Santa only brings presents to good little kids who accept Christ and do not break any of the 10 commandments. And those who yell and scream about saying "Happy Holidays" over Merry Christmas or the appearance of Christmas trees and Santa and his reindeer in public settings just help asswipes like O'Reilly perpetuate the hate.

Yet, to be fair, I can understand the rabbi's complaint. For all the talk "Christians" give to the importance of their own symbols (nativity scenes, for example) at this time of year, they are also the first to scream when another religion's symbols such as a menorrah or a dreidl get equal billing. If you don't happen to know what each night's candle signifies on a menorrah, you're missing something powerful and wonderful.