News Home Page
 Home & Garden
 Weekly Sections
 News Digest
 Print Edition
 Site Index

Taking Liberties
How the Feds Stole Christmas

E-Mail This Article
Printer-Friendly Version
Subscribe to The Post
By Gary Krist
Sunday, December 16, 2001; Page B05

"The federal government is the Scrooge of the season."

-- D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton


The American people liked Christmas a lot --
But the Federal Government clearly did NOT!
The feds hated Christmas! They did -- every one!
They hated the chaos, the crowds and the fun.

"It's wartime!" they cried. "We have to be wary.
The prospect of Christmas is simply too scary."
(For they saw in the season's delightful excesses
The makings of untold security messes.)

"Those tourists will come to D.C. on their jaunts
And want to see all of our usual haunts.
They'll fly in from places like Flint or Peru
And expect to see Congress, the Archives, the Zoo.

"But how to distinguish, amid all the revels,
The innocent tourists from terrorist devils?
We've got to be hard-nosed -- too bad if they frown!
We've got to take action to lock up the town!"

So those Grinches did issue an edict to close
All tours of the White House to regular Joes.
"No visits allowed -- not sooner, not later --
For you never know who is part of al Qaeda."

This order, however, was only the latest
Of numerous acts to defeat those who hate us.
For one Grinch named Ashcroft already had taken
Draconian steps that left liberals shaken.

"It's crucial," said he, "to adopt zealous measures
In order to safeguard our national treasures."
So he'd rounded up suspects -- and not just a few:
If your face fit his profile, well, boo-hoo for you.

But that wasn't all; no, these Grinches had more.
For they saw in this issue a wide-open door.
Why, they even made plans, in their fright and their fury,
To try certain people without any jury!

And so, under pretext of just being cautious,
They did things the Founders would surely find nauseous.
"We've done it," they crooned, "We've killed off their spirit.
They once loved their freedom, but now they all fear it!"

"Yes, Christmas is spoiled, and Hanukkah, too.
But with things as they are, who will dare to say boo?
For when people are scared, they seize any solution,
Despite all their laws and their old Constitution."

But we know the rest; sure, we've all read our Seuss.
We know that our people won't brook such abuse.
We know they'll give voice to their freedom of speech
And cry out their demand: equal justice for each.

And the Grinches, of course, will take heed and reform.
Their cold little hearts will grow ample and warm.
For that's how it works in a holiday tale:
The world's finer nature will always prevail.

Ah --
But there we'd be wrong, for in this case, alas,
The heartwarming ending may not come to pass.
The American people, it seems, quite approve!
The polls show support for each Grinch-worthy move.

So the Grinches have triumphed! The '50s are back!
And here's what we've learned from this terror attack:
That life is no kid's book with uplifting plot;
Our freedoms are precious -- except when they're not.


-- Gary Krist is a Washington writer. His latest novel is "Chaos Theory" (Random House).

© 2001 The Washington Post Company