It may seem, on the surface, a bit of a stretch but I’m willing to bet that Osama Bin Laden never, ever believed in Santa Claus. I just can’t picture him hanging his stockings by the chimney with care or baking cookies or writing a list of things he’d like to send to the North Pole. If he had done any of those things he might have some idea about the consequences of being naughty and being nice.
I’m not in any way trying to trivialize the horrors that terrorists have perpetrated and certainly I understand the gravity of the war we are currently engaged in. Having spent the last four months dodging mortar rounds and attending Purple Heart and memorial ceremonies for my wounded and fallen co-workers over in Iraq, I have a new perspective on what we are facing as a nation and as a culture. What I would like to point out though is that we have in our arsenal a secret and very lethal weapon to use against the terrorists who wish for our destruction. That weapon is Santa Claus.
Okay, I hear the sound of “Bah humbugs” along with the rustling of hands busily searching the cushions of mental sofas for the remote control to turn the proverbial channel but bear with me for a moment.
It has become abundantly clear since Sept. 11, 2001 that what the terrorists hate most about America is our pro-life, this-worldly focus and our dedication to the sanctity of individual rights and continuing pursuit of happiness. They hate our success, our pride in our achievements, our freedom to choose our lifestyles and religion (or lack of) and our enormous wealth. These are all things that we celebrate with exuberance in the Christmas and holiday season and the kind of things that Santa Claus himself represents – the enjoyment of life.
As Dr. Leonard Peikoff put it in an article for Capitalism Magazine Dec. 6, “Christmas as we celebrate it today is a 19th-century American invention. The freedom and prosperity of post-Civil War America created the happiest nation in history. The result was the desire to celebrate, to revel in the goods and pleasures of life on earth. Christmas (which was not a federal holiday until 1870) became the leading American outlet for this feeling… the major developments of 19th-century capitalism: industrialization, urbanization, the triumph of science -- all of it leading to easy transportation, efficient mail delivery, the widespread publishing of books and magazines, new inventions making life comfortable and exciting, and the rise of entrepreneurs who understood that the way to make a profit was to produce something good and sell it to a mass market.”
These are the conditions that make our celebration of Christmas possible and also the very things that frighten those who wish to impose their own will on everyone around them, whether out of a lust for power and control or out of a fanatical adherence to an anti-life creed. Tolerance of freethinking individuals is a threat to them.
So, how does Santa Claus fit into all of this? Imagine the idea of a benevolent person who can see everything you do – yes, he could see you while you are sleeping and he knows when you are awake – he would also know when you did something right or wrong and reward you accordingly. That is a concept of justice that children learn very early when they believe in Santa Claus. And they get presents, as Dr. Peikoff points out, whether they are rich or poor, as long as they are good. The emphasis rests on equality and justice based on one’s character rather than social status – that’s an idea many cultures lack outside the United States. Often times outside the western countries justice is meted out based on tribal, ethnic or wealth status, and “who you know” could be an issue of life or death.
What is needed is a very large dose of reason inserted into the Middle Eastern culture. Even if it comes dressed in a red and white suit and is riding in a sleigh – okay, maybe pulled by flying camels instead of flying reindeer - the benefits of such a life-affirming concept like Santa Claus could really have a great impact on the future culture of the region.
My suggestion is that everyone write an email to Santa Claus and CC your local government officials. In the email we’ll urge our leaders to embrace the idea of proposing an upgrade of Santa’s sleigh to include armored plating and Kevlar helmets for the reindeer/camels, and we will send them into Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else a little good old fashion Christmas cheer is needed. Maybe then we will truly enjoy peace on Earth and good will toward men.
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii