...And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice...
Who needs to forgive the expression "a Christmas party"? Would Nina Totenberg ask for forgiveness at having to mention "a Ramadan feast", or a "Bar Mitzvah celebration"?
If she was being a fatwa-sissy, afraid of a Jihad, I think her fears are unfounded. Claire Berlinski writes:
I have no good theory to account for the very notable increase in the popularity of Christmas decorations in Istanbul. There have been more of them every year since I've been here, but I'm seeing a really notable increase over last year. Christmas trees, Santas, Rudolphs, garlands, Merry Christmas signs--all out in force, and beats me what to make of it. I'd tentatively say that Turks love anything bright and festive, and retailers figure this looks bright and festive.
And I've never detected animosity from my Jewish friends and acquaintances, despite my habit of rubbing in the no-presents-for-you aspect of Christmas in my younger days.
No, I don't think Totenberg is showing deference to her Jewish or Muslim audience. I think it was activist atheists whose sensibilities she was protecting. (because I don't think even run of the mill atheists or agnostics are bothered by the existence of Christmas) It's the elephant dung/Mary, urine/crucifix artists who might be offended. Imagine, working all day to mock Christianity with elephant dung, then getting offended when somebody utters the words "Christmas party". Hey, you powered past the gag reflex for your art; try to stomach the fact that some people have different beliefs than yours.
And while we're on the subject, I'd like to wish everyone, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, dervish, Christian, and Buddhist, a Merry Christmas! All except the activist atheists, to whom I say: No Presents for You!