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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

VIDEO: The New Faux News obsession – what color is Santa, what color was Jesus?

The Santa Wars And Fox News’ Assault On Christmas

Megyn Kelly doesn't know Santa ClausIt all began a week ago. Megyn Kelly, on her program, The Kelly Files, brought up an op-ed by Slate’s Aisha Harris. Harris wrote that it was confusing for her, as a black child, to see two different depictions of Santa Claus: one that shared her skin color at home and one that was white everywhere else. When she asked her father what color Santa really was, he gave her the perfect answer: Santa is every color. Harris suggested that, to prevent the confusion, Santa be depicted as a penguin from now on.

Megyn Kelly wasn’t at all sympathetic about confusing Santas

But that didn’t go over well in Fox Land. Discussing the article with three (white) guests, Kelly said that Harris had “gone off the rails.” And she wasn’t going to sit still for it:

For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” Kelly said. “But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But Santa is what he is. Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know? I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.”

Here’s the video: 

The tempest begins

That’s when the feces hit the blades. Historians and theologians immediately jumped on Kelly’s comments with some facts. Santa, first of all, is based largely on St. Nicholas, a Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor — which is now Turkey. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve looked at a picture of a Turk lately, but they are rather swarthy. After all, they live in the Middle East, where darker skin protects the inhabitants from the fierce desert sun. As for Jesus… pretty much the same deal. He was a Jew, born in Galilee. They don’t grow blonde, blue-eyed Nazarenes. And that is a verifiable fact.

Jon Stewart tore into this nonsense on The Daily Show a couple of days later. He also brought up these facts, asserting that St. Nick would be on the no-fly list if he were real. He then moved on to Kelly’s assertion that Jesus was a white man, “You do know Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, right?”

Megyn Kelly and the no-good, very bad excuse

Megyn was suspiciously absent from her show on the night following her ill-informed comments. But she was back on the night after that, with an incredibly lame explanation:

“Well, this would be funny if it were not so telling about our society. In the particular the knee jerk instinct by so many to race bait and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful FOX News Channel… For me, the fact that an offhand jest I made during a segment about whether Santa should be replaced by a penguin has now become a national firestorm says two things. Race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country and FOX News and yours truly are big targets for many people… By the way, I also did say Jesus was white as I’ve learned in the past two days, that is far from settled.”

“Far from settled”? For you, perhaps. But historians, anthropologists and even most theologians agree that Jesus wasn’t a fair man — at least not physically. He was a Palestinian Jew: he would have had dark eyes and hair and been somewhat hirsute. Now, to be fair, every culture who has embraced Christ has depicted Him as looking like them. Which is completely fine. 

As Reza Aslan — author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth  explained in the Washington Post , Jesus and the Christ are not the same person: “The Christ can be whatever you want him to be.” Megyn Kelly’s version of the Christ reallyis white. But that is not a “verifiable fact,” it is merely her vision of a spiritual concept.

The tempest spreads to a school

All of this wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it had just stayed among the cable networks and others who have an interest in it. But it has moved out of that venue. It was raised in a New Mexico school, when a teacher sent a black student home for dressing up as Santa Claus (the class was told that they could come to school dressed as Santa, an elf or a reindeer). The teacher, who remains unidentified, told the student, “Don’t you know Santa Claus is white? Why are you wearing that?”  The boy’s father was, justifiably, angry:

“There’s no room for that in the classroom,” he said. “Whether this teacher felt Christopher may have been wearing this out of context, there’s no room for it. There’s just no room for it. “If he has that attitude, how is it affecting students, studies, grading habits, trending toward Caucasian kids?”

The teacher has been disciplined and the student moved to another class. A spokesperson for Cleveland High School said that the teacher felt bad about the incident and has apologized to the boy and his father. I should hope so. It’s one thing to hold a vision of Santa for yourself but it’s entirely inappropriate to shoot down somebody else’s.

Oh, and Bill-O had to get involved

Finally, Bill O’Reilly had to drag his sorry butt into this whole thing, telling viewers that Megyn Kelly was right: Santa was white. And you black folks should just “get over it.” 

This, after other Fox talking heads explained why this mattered: Juan Williams and Mary Katharine Ham both criticized Kelly’s remarks, calling them hurtful and unkind. But that didn’t matter to Bill-O. He just talked louder and asserted that the Santa we have now “is fine.” Then he dragged out the victimhood BS again:

“I don’t think Megyn Kelly meant any harm. I think it was seized upon by our enemies to try to make us look like a racist enterprise. I think that’s despicable and I think that is the lead on this story.”

Um, Bill, we don’t need to try. You do a perfectly good job of looking like a “racist enterprise” all on your own. Even with your own token talking-heads-of-color, you shout them down and condescend, just like a good patronizing racist should.

Santa really does belong to all of us

Megyn said that her comments were “tongue-in-cheek.” I don’t think that she even knows what that means. All you have to do is watch the video and you can see that she isn’t joking. She really wants everything about Christmas to be the way she sees it and only that way. That’s not very festive of her.
Christmas — and the entire holiday season — is about family. Every family should be free to celebrate it as they wish, including Megyn’s. 

But what she can’t do is tell others that they must celebrate exactly as she does, that only her way is correct. Make no mistake, that is what this whole “War on Christmas” is all about. Those who want to make the rest of us celebrate it exactly as they do are outraged when we refuse. As far as I’m concerned, their Santa might as well be the Grinch. 

Because, even though he began as a Turkish bishop, Santa Claus has become the symbol of the spirit of giving. And it is just not right to try to limit that to one color or race or nationality or religion. Santa belongs to all of us. Aisha Harris’ father had it right: Santa is every color. Just because that makes Megyn Kelly uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it has to change.