Todd Starnes strikes again! According to Philly.com, a Jewish family had to leave their home out of fear for their safety after he wrote an op-ed blaming them for the cancellation of a fifth-grade production of A Christmas Carol.
The school said the production was cancelled because of the time they had to put into getting it produced, but also because there was some concern over Tiny Tim's "God bless us, every one" line. It has apparently been a tradition at the school for many years, but this year a Jewish family in the area asked for their children to be excused, which they were.
That prompted harassment of those children at school in November, according to Lancaster Online. (Registration required to read the article)
After the decision to cancel the play, the school administrator sent a letter to parents which said, in part, “Our decision is rooted in the desire to be respectful of the many cultural and religious backgrounds represented by the students attending Centerville Elementary.” The administration also expressed concern about the time out of school instruction time to put on the play, suggesting that an after-school production be considered instead.
Starnes put his own spin on that, writing, "That’s a mighty big clue, folks. In order to be tolerant and diverse, public schools have to eradicate any mention of God. "
Starnes then turned to a right-wing legal center funded for the sole purpose of shoveling Christianity down Americans' throats for comment. Their chief counsel obliged, saying, "It seems like people are trying to take aware our traditions left and right. We need to do something to push back.”
That elicited the desired response, with over 200 complaints made to the school, according to Philly.com.
After a Jewish family in the area saw comments on Starnes' article suggesting their home address and other identifying information should be published online so they could be harassed, they fled the area temporarily, fearful that another incident like the Pizzagate shooting might occur.
Not an unreasonable concern on their part.
The real problem here isn't the "God bless us, everyone" line at all. The real problem here is that schools are so strapped to get their required curriculum in front of students that they're forced to take a bite out of arts training and the like.
"A Christmas Carol" is a Victorian morality play about a person who represents today's conservative movement almost perfectly. There's nothing particularly "Christian" about it. If that Jewish family objected to their children participating, that was their right, for whatever their reasons were for doing it. Whether it was that line or just the investment of time and effort in doing the thing, it's none of Starnes' business.
It's irresponsible to target people this way. Starnes in particular wrote his op-ed in such a way as to invite people to target this family instead of simply passing it by. It's not his concern what school districts decide to do during the holidays, nor should it be. Nothing he wrote was "news" that needed to single out one family for mob treatment.
Shame on him. All of them. Shame for their hateful, mean, selfish ways.
The ADL says the family did not flee, but went on a previously scheduled vacation.
The full press release reads in part:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), like many, read many numerous local and national news stories reporting that a Jewish family allegedly “fled” Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The reports claimed that the family feared retribution after being wrongfully blamed for the cancellation of the school production of A Christmas Carol. ADL investigated, and found that in actuality, the family left on vacation for winter break.
“News reports alleging that a Jewish family has ‘fled’ Lancaster County are untrue and damaging,” said Nancy Baron-Baer, ADL Regional Director. “We spoke with the family, who explained that they went on a previously-planned vacation for the holidays. Stories like this can sow fear in the Jewish community and beyond, and it is important to stop the spread of misinformation.
This is good. I'm glad they were on vacation and weren't responding to threats. However, that doesn't change the fact that Todd Starnes twisted the original story about the play into something it was not, in order to fit his personal narrative about a "War on Christmas."