Christmas is being banned. Whether it's holiday trees, holiday parties, holiday concerts or "Happy Holidays," the word Christmas is slowly being exiled from society. I, for one, am offended. And I'm Jewish.

Of course, one of the worst transgressions you can commit at this time of year is to immediately precede the word Christmas with the word "merry." Realizing this, some of America's largest retailers-Target, Sears, Costco, Kmart, Wal-Mart-have all decided to ban Christmas from their store advertising this year. So much for inclusiveness.

Let's get to the numbers. Eighty-five percent of America is Christian. To put that in perspective, 80 percent of Israel is Jewish. Ninety-two percent of Americans admit to the guilty pleasure of enjoying the words "Merry Christmas," and a whopping 96 percent actually go so far as to celebrate it, according to a recent Gallup poll. Oh, and nearly 100 percent of Americans will have the day off. America was settled, founded and pioneered by people who celebrated Christmas. Get ready to cringe, secularists-Christmas is an American holiday.

Now, before any card-carrying members of the ACLU start screaming about the separation of church and state, let me enlighten you. What I am speaking of has nothing to do with government establishment of religion. I am speaking of American culture. Wishing people "Merry Christmas" at Wal-Mart and calling an evergreen covered with ornaments what it actually is (hint: not a holiday tree), isn't a violation of any amendment. It's about acknowledging the simple fact that most Americans celebrate the birth of Jesus (no, Christmas is not the celebration of Santa Claus) and that for them, this is a truly special time of year.

So why the act? We don't want to offend the small number of people who don't celebrate Christmas so we pretend it doesn't exist? Doesn't that seem a little extreme? For one thing-and pardon my bluntness-but anyone who is offended by seeing or, heaven forbid, being wished a merry Christmas is an idiot. Does it really make sense to insult the intelligence of the vast majority of Americans for the sake of those who don't have any?

By contrast, when I was in Mexico one December, everywhere I went people were wishing me a merry Christmas. That I'm not Christian didn't matter. I still appreciated the spirit and kindness of the gesture and the genuine atmosphere of warmth it created. Being wished a wonderful winter just doesn't have the same effect. For my winter concerts in middle school, to avoid offending people's ever-so-sensitive-sensibilities, the events were decorated with neutral colors. One year they went with black. It felt like I was in a Tim Burton movie.

Before anyone accuses me of forgetting the Maccabees, I of course realize that Chanukah, depending on the lunar cycle, occurs around the same time as Christmas. "Happy Holidays" could perhaps be interpreted as shorthand for "Happy Chanukah" and "Merry Christmas." But let's not be deceptive. As much as I love Chanukah and rejoice in our miraculous defeat of the Assyrians (we really showed them how Jews take care of business), it's just not that important when compared to our other holidays. Plus, we make up only 2 percent of the country's population.

While I welcome and enjoy wishes for a happy Chanukah, there is no reason why our holiday should preclude stores from putting up Christmas banners or extending Christmas greetings to their customers. I would absolutely hate Chanukah to be used as a tool to interfere with the celebration and recognition of one of Christianity's holiest days, and I resent the efforts of secularists to do just that. Maybe they're worried too many mentions of Christmas will inspire religion in others. Or maybe they're just jealous because they don't have anything to celebrate. Whatever it is, I know most Americans want a stop to the madness.

What's next? Requiring Christmas carolers to sing holiday-neutral carols? Making the silver stars on Christmas trees six-pointed instead of five?

From Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" to Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life," Christmas is a major part of American culture. It represents our values of family, compassion and charity. In the spirit of Christmas, I say we all get together and ask Duke to put up a "Merry Christmas" banner and a beautiful Christmas tree in the Bryan Center. Now wouldn't that be a miracle?

To everyone-the best of luck with finals, and of course, have a merry Winter Break.

Stephen Miller is a Trinity junior. His column runs every other Tuesday.