Quote of the day – Nina Totenberg edition

Posted by: ST on December 20, 2010 at 11:43 am


“I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party.“  Liberal NPR journalist Nina Totenberg, on Inside Washington this weekend.

I wonder how often Ms. Totenberg has had to apologize for calling Christmas, well, Christmas during the course of her hip, chatty DC cocktail circuit conversations with liberal elites who turn their noses up at all things traditionally Christian?

I can’t imagine ever doing so.  In fact, I will NEVER apologize for calling Christmas Christmas.  I will never apologize for wishing someone a Merry Christmas instead of “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.”  In fact, in these politically correct times where we’re not supposed to “offend” anyone with traditional holiday greetings, I feel a bit gloriously rebellious each time I say the words “Merry Christmas” to someone else.  And you know what? Almost every time I say it, the person I said it to says it to me in turn, indicating they weren’t in the least bit offended.  I have even said to people who have wished me a Merry Christmas “thank you” for not saying “Happy Holidays.”

When you bring this issue up to liberals, oftentimes they laugh and accuse you of being one of those conservatives who “takes things too seriously” and who should “lighten up in the spirit of the season.”  In response, I note that the “spirit of the season” is exactly why I and many others who share my viewpoint take the saying of the word Christmas so seriously.  Give liberals like Totenberg and other politically correct people in this country an inch on this issue and they will take a mile.  Most conservatives know this, which is why they won’t budge – it’s Christmas, not “the holidays.”  Of course, on the other hand, these same liberals who lecture conservatives about taking this issue too seriously would never admit that it’s liberals who did take the issue seriously enough to get politicos and businesses, etc, to “moderate” their “holiday greetings,” who put people like me and you in the position of feeling they  had to take a stand in favor of saying Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays.

I don’t go out of my way to “offend” people, and in fact if I’m greeting someone who I know does not celebrate Christmas but instead observes another holiday tradition, I won’t wish them a “Merry Christmas.” It would sort of be like a member of the liberal black community who observed Kwanzaa wishing me a “Happy Kwanzaa.”  The only difference being that I wouldn’t get offended if they did so.  I would just find it amusing, correct them, and move on.  Some people would get bent out of shape over it.  The only thing to get bent out of shape over, in my opinion, is any time a liberal suggests/implies that it’s “offensive” to say Christmas.

Merry Christmas, y’all. :)

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23 Responses to “Quote of the day – Nina Totenberg edition”


  1. Phineas says:

    I’m a “Merry Christmas” rebel, too. :d

    “Season’s greetings” isn’t bad, though; it at least has a slightly Dickensian ring to it. “Happy Holidays,” on the other hand, is fatally PC.

  2. Atheist here. There’s nothing wrong with wishing someone “Merry Christmas” or going to a Christmas party. I exchange gifts and wish people Merry Christmas whether I know their faith or not; so do all my non-believing friends. Wishing someone “Merry Christmas” is not an insult (neither is “Happy Holidays,” by the way, but I’d agree with Phineas that it is rather bland).

    Why do we non-believers act this way? Simple: Christmas is a lot of fun, even for us non-Christians. I mostly like Christmas songs (they do get annoying with saturation-level repetition, but most of them are exquisitely well-written). I may not be going to religious services on the 25th and I may entertain some questions about the history of the holiday that a faithful person would not, but so what? It’s a real holiday and a real cultural event here and now. The event has become so secularized that as long as you don’t have an “I’m not a Christian, damnit!” chip delicately balanced on your shoulder, it’s easy to enjoy it. And if you want to have the religious dimension to the holiday too, nothing’s stopping you.

    I’ve never personally seen anyone, Christian or not, fly off the handle about any holiday greeting; the most heat I’ve seen was an exchange at a store in which the clerk wished a couple “Merry Christmas,” and the husband smiled and said back, “Oh, we’re Jewish,” and the clerk said, “Happy Haunakkah, then!” Everyone smiled and that was that. This was not a particularly bitter exchange in the culture wars, if you ask me.

    If Nina Totenberg really thinks she needs to beg forgiveness for going to a Christmas party, I suggest that she exchange the kool-aid for a glass of brandied eggnog and relax about it already. Merry Christmas, everyone.

  3. Steven W. says:

    Nina has been making me nauseous for 20+ years – fortunately her exposure doesn’t make it much past NPR so the irritations are sickening but bareable ROFLMAO! Merry Christmas! :)

  4. Sean says:


    I’m with ST and Phineas, I wish folks a Merry Christmas, especially retailers when I’m buying stuff (whether it’s a gift or not, tis the Season…). My only exception is a neighbor who I wished a Happy Haunakkah to; the smile on his face when I did that means I’ll be doing it annually.

    I also agree that “Happy Holidays” is bland, but I would have no issues with it if the store/business/whatever showed Christmas, Kwanzaa, Haunakkah, Ramadan etc decorations and such. Acknowledge that there are multiple holidays celebrated during this time, don’t ignore it.

    And a Merry Christmas to Nina. Wish I had time to send her a card.

  5. Great White Rat says:

    Well said, TL. “Merry Christmas” isn’t meant to be an insult, and it isn’t a subtle way of trying to evangelize non-Christians.

    Here’s the problem: the politically correct elites like Totenberg put the emphasis on “Christmas”, and anything that references the Judeo-Christian heritage of most western nations is anathema to them, so they instinctively attack.

    In contrast, most normal people put the emphasis on “Merry”. we don’t care whether the recipient of the greeting is Jewish, Muslim, atheist, or whatever – we are wishing them a pleasant season of joy, peace, and happiness. As TL correctly notes, there is no malice intended; quite the opposite.

    For most of you, Merry Christmas.

    For any liberal elites who happen by, Merry ChristKwanUkah. There – that’ll be entirely acceptable or offend you even more.

  6. Carlos says:

    OK, so they get all offended by “Merry Christmas” and try to pass laws and rules about it.

    Well, I’m very offended by the “F-bomb”, too, but I don’t see too many effete intellectuals campaigning to eliminate that from public discourse and, in fact, will often throw it into conversation specifically to offend!


  7. RSweeney says:

    Jesus Christ is the true one whose name can not be spoken.

  8. bear1909 says:

    A non-practicing Jew afraid of offending anti-christian sensibilities…. how rich is that? Totenberg is the typical frog in the soon-to-be-boiling pot of Sharia creep. The Holder Justice Department is now backing the play of an Illinois public school teacher who is Muslim, to claim that her civil rights were violated because the district wouldn’t give her 3 weeks off to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. What is next? Totenberg wearing a head scarf because her open hair is offensive to these poodle turds? The liberals will hang themselves with their own timidity and absolute lack of understanding that CULT is the first four letters of the word CULT-ure. Stop bending over Nina. The pleasure is fleeting and the position is ridiculous (borrowed from an old Christian saying about the ficklish nature of a certain biologically necessary, now considered mainstream extra-curricular activity known as S-e-X.

    Merry Christmas you spit the eye AMericanos!

    Sincereley 100th generation Navajo and 3 generation American Mexicano (descendant of a repatriated Mexican revolutionary- legal immigrant 100 per cent-no DREAM for me. Thanks.)

  9. NC Cop says:

    For any liberal elites who happen by, Merry ChristKwanUkah. There – that’ll be entirely acceptable or offend you even more.

    Your forgot Festivus, GWR! I’m offended!!!!

    A festivus for the rest of us!!!!!!

  10. FrankNitti says:


    very well said, thank you

  11. Scott McCray says:

    To the easily offended I say, “Merry Christmas, y’all! – and have a go at untwistin’ those knickers!” :d

  12. Iva Biggin says:

    Most offensive: “Merry Xmas” on a card, package,or store window. What believer of any other religion would stand for their Diety becoming an “X”? Merry CHRISTmas to you all!!

  13. Iva — I have heard that the first people to use the “X” in “Xmas” may well have been rather devout English Christians in the sixteenth or maybe seventeenth centuries, who were referencing the Greek letter “Chi,” part of the original “Chi-Rho” glyph used to refer to Christ.

    Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, and I’ve not researched it myself. While I won’t vouch for the truth of that claim, I will say it seems plausible.

    As for what other religion would stand for its Deity being referred to elliptically, none would use the “X” that I know of, but maybe you should look at Judaism for something sort of like that. Many Jews refer to “G-d” or more rarely “the L-RD”, and consider the four-letter glyph “YHWH” too holy for a mortal to pronounce out loud. Hindus have a long tradition of their Deities going in disguise and under assumed names. Those Buddhists who believe that the Buddha (or Buddhas, depending on the sect) is a still-existent divinity do not refer to it by name. Muslims (the strict ones, anyway) forbid any sort of visual representation of Allah, or of the Prophet. So there’s lots of elliptical representations of divinity out there. If you ask me, it’s all quite silly, but I understand that others have a different opinion.

    But I think the real issue here is that people ought not go looking for insults where none are intended. Atheists, Jews, Muslims, etc. are not being insulted when they are wished a Merry Christmas. It’s not reasonable to infer an intend to insult Christians when one uses the abbreviation “Xmas.” Besides, life is too short to go around mad and insulted all the time, particularly at people who mean well but maybe don’t express themselves exactly the way you would like them to.

  14. ShyAsrai says:

    Fine. Then I demand Ms. Totenberg refrain from ever again speaking the following words/phrases in case I, a Christian, find them offensive:

    Ganesh Chaturthi

    One word I actually wish she’d repeat over and over again: JERK

  15. ST says:

    TL – thanks for the comments. It’s nice to have your perspective on this.

  16. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    Besides, life is too short to go around mad and insulted all the time, particularly at people who mean well but maybe don’t express themselves exactly the way you would like them to.

    Unless you are the Professionally Offended (PO) and make your living accusing people of (pick one or more of the following) racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, cultural imperialism, Christianist theocracy. Then being mad and insulted all the time is what puts food on the table, kids through expensive private schools, and provides luxurious European vacations and shopping sprees at all of the most expensive stores. It certainly has fueled the careers of many Members of Congress and the media.

  17. ENO says:

    December 20, 2008
    NPR’s Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg dropped by this week to help with our vlog, Open Mic. She didn’t come to talk about any of the great Supreme Court debates about church and state, or keeping religious displays out of public space, but about Christmas at the Totenberg household: “My mother always said that it didn’t matter that we were Jewish; Christmas was too good a holiday for kids not to celebrate.”

  18. Zippy says:

    I say Merry Christmas to those I know are ‘known offenders’. To those that I know are of other religious belief’s it’s ‘Happy Holidays’, What’s so offensive about Merry Christmas is beyond my understanding.



  19. Marshall Art says:

    For me, it’s “Merry Christmas” to everyone and anyone. I don’t care if they’re not Christian. I still wish for them a Merry Christmas. As for observing their religions, I won’t, though I will wish a Jew “Happy Hanukkah” (however it’s spelled). I don’t apologize for not acknowleging other religious and faux-religious made up alternatives. But I am sincere that I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

  20. Suzy-Q says:

    Hold on a minute! She was defending Christmas:

    we reached Totenberg herself during her “Christmas vacation” (her term) in Jamaica. Turns out her critics got it completely wrong: She was, she says, defending Christmas. The DOJ celebration was officially dubbed a “holiday” party, and she was gently mocking that generic designation. “I think that’s kind of silly, because it’s obviously a Christmas party,” she told us. “I was tweaking the Department of Justice. It was a touch of irony at the expense of the Justice Department, not at the expense of Christmas.”

    As for the bloggers who were so quick to judge – without bothering to ask her what she meant: “Jeesh, these folks need a life – and perhaps a touch of the Christmas spirit as well.”