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“When Santa’s Race Matters”: A Devastating Message, There Are Roles For White People And Roles For Other Races

I was always a pretty skeptical kid, as most journalists probably were. So I never really bought the whole Santa Claus thing. I always felt like I was sort of humoring my parents by pretending to believe that elves were making my Easy-Bake Oven and Santa was delivering it to me (along with gifts to children all over the world! In a single night!). And undoubtedly, my parents thought they were humoring me.

So one day, I figured it was time for all of us to give up the charade. I went to my mother and asked her, point-blank: “mom, is there really a Santa Claus?” My mother, clearly having anticipated this question for some time, had the Good Housekeeping magazine answer all ready: “There is if you believe.”

This is not something that ought to matter at all to adults, except that the race of the fictional character has come into question of late. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly started the faux controversy by saying on air that Santa is white. The network’s Bill O’Reilly backed her up Monday, saying, “Ms. Kelly is correct. Santa is a white person.” To his absurdly small credit,  O’Reilly did add, “Does it matter? No.”

Well, no, it doesn’t matter if you’re grown and Santa is just a childhood memory. But what if you’re a black kid in Albuquerque, and your teacher says you can come to school dressed as Santa, an elf or a reindeer? What happened to ninth-grader Christopher Rougier is this: He came to school in a Santa-esque beard and hat, and his teacher said, “don’t you know Santa Claus is white? Why are you wearing that?”

Presumably, the cover story wasn’t blown for the boy, who presumably does not believe in Santa Claus. However, he may have believed that being African-American does not prevent him from being all kinds of things – president, even – because the path had been cleared for him by others. Whether the child really thought he could grow up to be Santa someday is irrelevant. The lesson he got from his teacher is much more devastating – that there are roles for white people and roles for other races. These are strong messages to send children. Barbie, for example, used to limit herself to trying on new fashions and going to the beach at Malibu. Now, Barbie does it all – she’s an astronaut, a “pet doctor,” even a presidential candidate, smartly done up in a suit and pearls. Girls with Barbies might indeed still get a distorted body image for women, but at least they aren’t being indoctrinated with the idea that their futures are limited to “women’s” jobs.

It shouldn’t matter if Santa is pictured as a white man, given that we’re talking about a fantasy, but the reality is that it does. The mere message of the big, benign white guy being the one to distribute presents to children (if they’re good!) is bad enough (don’t people of other races express generosity?). Telling a kid he can never be in the image of one of the most beloved characters of childhood is cruel.


By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, December 18, 2013

December 20, 2013 Posted by | Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jesus Wasn’t White, But Santa Definitely Is”: It Also Seems That Santa Is From Mississippi

This past week, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and her guests were discussing an article by Aisha Harris in which Harris described how Santa’s consistent depiction as a white man made her feel uncomfortable and excluded as a young black girl in America.

As her panelists began to broach the topic, Kelly made what she clearly thought was an important interjection:

And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is maybe just arguing that we should also have a black Santa. But, you know, Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we’re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.

And she went on:

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 want you kids watching to know that.

So, according to Kelly, Santa is white, and so is Jesus. And I must say, in my opinion, she is half right, which is one more half right than she usually is.

Jesus isn’t white, but Santa definitely is.

Santa is basically a benevolent imaginary character with super powers. And if you’ve seen any superhero movies, those types of characters tend to usually be white. So his whiteness is really no surprise. But if white people want Santa, they can have him. All he ever got me for Christmas was socks and cologne. And you can only have so many bottles of Eternity.

Santa has the complexion of an egg. He is obese, and he rarely speaks in complete sentences. Not only is Santa white, it also seems that he is from Mississippi. The only times they name streets after nonwhites is when they lead civil rights movements, and even then it’s controversial. Santa has a street named after him for no good reason (remember “Santa Claus Lane”?). He is definitely white.

Santa is bit of a loner. Every year, he sits around his house making intricate gadgets with his imaginary assistants for 364 days.  Then, he only visits his actual friends for one day. He is white for sure.

Santa makes his darker, subjugated, captive workers put in all the effort while he takes all the credit.  As far as I know, those reindeer are not getting paid. Master Santa enjoys the fruits of their hard labor. And what do they get? A song. And it’s only about one of them. What an injustice!

So, Santa is unquestionably white. But what about Jesus? Kelly said that Jesus’ whiteness was a “verifiable fact.” Now, I have a bit of a personal connection here. I am a Palestinian, as was Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem. Jesus lived most of his life in Nazareth, which also happens to be the city of my origin. But I have never lived in Nazareth because of… well, that’s for another time.

Now it’s very possible that Megyn Kelly may have been a little confused here. If you simply type “Bethlehem” into Wikipedia, chaos ensues. There are Bethlehems all over the place. There’s one in Pennsylvania, one in New York, one in Connecticut, and one in Maryland.  And it doesn’t stop there. They even have Bethlehems in England, South Africa, Switzerland, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. This can be quite overwhelming.

If you take a quick look at a map of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, there’s a town just 9 miles up the road named Nazareth. If you didn’t know any better, you could have thought Jesus grew up in that neighborhood. But that part of eastern Pennsylvania is also just a few miles from New Jersey, and I really can’t imagine Jesus having anything remotely to do with New Jersey.

Now, even if Megyn knew that the Nazareth and Bethlehem we associate with Jesus were halfway across the world, she still could have thought he was white. After all, the United States government defines white people as “original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.” That would make Jesus white, except for the fact that he would not be the kind of white person that Megyn Kelly meant. In other words, I don’t think Megyn Kelly would consider my dad white, or Paula Abdul white, or Ahmed Ahmed white. But Jesus would look much more like any of those people than he would like her.

So Jesus wasn’t white. He didn’t look like Brad Pitt. He looked like Tony Shalhoub. He looked less like the pilgrims, and more like the people the pilgrims stole land from. He was not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. He was an Olive Semitic Nazarene Jew.

If Jesus were here today, he would be exactly the kind of guy that most Fox News anchors would be in favor of racially profiling. He would be on the No Fly List (my editor is making me point out that Jon Stewart made a similar joke), not that Jesus needs a plane to fly, but whatever.

And by the way Megyn, if Jesus were here today, he wouldn’t be a Tea Partier or a Republican. In fact, he wouldn’t even be a political conservative. He would believe in his own mantra of “that which you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me.” He would be upset that we spend more money on building monuments to him than we do on feeding our poor. He would be dismayed that we are supporting repressive governments to serve our interests. And he would be disappointed that we spend four times as much on our military than we do on educating our children.

After much criticism of her comments, Megyn Kelly responded with the “I was just joking” defense. “Humor is part of what we try to bring to the show. Sometimes that’s lost on the humorless,” she said of her declaration of Santa’s whiteness. But Megyn is making the same mistake many young comedians make early in their careers. See, a “joke” is a “joke” because it’s “funny.” And you don’t decide if it’s funny, your audience does.  Megyn, what you said wasn’t funny. Well, we were laughing, but it wasn’t because you were trying to be funny.

As far as Jesus goes, Kelly did admit that it had been wrong for her to proclaim Jesus’ whiteness. Jesus’ race is “far from settled,” she acknowledged. She couldn’t bring herself to say he wasn’t white.

Megyn, please listen to me. Jesus’ origins are not “far from settled.” He was not white. He was from Palestine, not North Carolina.  He was from where I am from, not where you are from. He fought against injustice and inequality. He was from my world, not yours.

White people can have the old, fat, white fantasy figure. But we’ll keep the olive-skinned, liberal, generous, charitable freedom fighter. We know much better what to do with him.


By: Amer Zahr, Time, December 18, 2013

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Race and Ethnicity, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Bleeding-Heart Liberal”: Why Conservatives Should Hate Santa Claus

The war over the War on Christmas has flared up again. Slate’s Aisha Harris fired the latest salvo with her piece last week, “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” prompting a famously confused response from Fox News host Megyn Kelly that “Santa Claus just is white” and “Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure, I mean, that’s verifiable fact—as is Santa.” Every single living being on the Internet weighed in. Kelly later defended herself in the usual manner of someone who regrets having said something: “Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes that is lost on the humorless.”

She was not joking, of course. To conservatives—of which she is one—the War on Christmas is a very real and serious thing, and the holiday’s two most revered figures, Jesus and Santa, must be defended at all costs from liberals who would dare make the holiday more inclusive. What’s even weirder than the insistence that Santa is white, though, is that conservatives dare to defend him in the first place. He’s a conservative’s worst nightmare, actually.

Consider the lyrics to “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”:

He’s making a list / Checking it twice / Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice / Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping / He knows when you’re awake / He knows if you’ve been bad or good / So be good for goodness sake

That he’s “making a list” sounds more than vaguely McCarthyistic, I’ll admit, but this is 2013, not 1954. You know who makes lists these days? The National Security Agency—for the express purpose of finding out who has been, or may one day be, naughty. By monitoring your emails and cell phone metadata, the NSA also has a pretty good idea of when you’re sleeping or awake. (Another agency that likes lists: the Internal Revenue Service.)

Santa invades our privacy in more literal ways, too. He breaks into everyone’s homes in the middle of the night—a crime that no one of any political persuasion, except perhaps anarchists, should endorse—and once inside, what does he do? He leaves presents totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars under your tree. You know who else gives Americans free stuff simply for being alive, rather than making recipients work for it? The bloated federal government and its social safety net. Every day, millions of Americans open unearned gifts in the form of Medicaid, unemployment insurance, TANF, and food stamps.

Santa’s home address further complicates matters. Eventually the North Pole will become the equivalent of a Caribbean beach, converting Santa into the world’s most famous and influential climate-change activist—at which point the only coal being mined in America will end up in presents beneath conservatives’ Christmas trees.

And as longtime Santa actor Jonathan Meath points out, “Santa is really the only cultural icon we have who’s male, doesn’t carry a gun, and is all about peace, joy, giving, and caring for other people.” Sure sounds like a bleeding-heart liberal to me.

Note: Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this website, but sometimes that is lost on the humorless.


By: Ryan Kearney, The New Republic, December 16, 2013

December 17, 2013 Posted by | Conservatives | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jesus, Santa Claus, And Race”: Conservative Secularism And The Pride Of White Identity

It’s probably appropriate that an anchor on the media network which annually gives us the maddening agitprop over the “War On Christmas” has kicked up a stir by insisting that Jesus Christ and Santa Claus were (and presumably “are” for believers) white folks, just like most Fox viewers. Politico‘s Hadas Gold has the story:

On Wednesday night Megyn Kelly declared on her Fox News show that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white. Discussing a piece in Slate by Aisha Harris about a black versus white Santa, Kelly that “just because it makes you feel uncomfortable it doesn’t mean it has to change.”

“You know, I’ve given her her due. Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”

Santa Claus can be traced to a real life monk named St. Nicholas who lived in what is today Turkey, according to the History Channel. Jesus Christ was born to a Jewish family around what is now Israel, and his race has long been debated with several scholars saying he likely looked like what many modern day people of Middle Eastern descent look like.

The unusual segment, where the panelists also debated whether Santa Claus should be a penguin as Harris writes in her piece, seemed to be directly contradicting what Kelly said on Monday when she appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

“I’m a straight news anchor, I’m not one of the opinion hosts,” she told Leno. “The way we do it on the Fox News Channel is the straight news anchors like us give a hard time to both sides.”

It seems especially idiotic to claim a race for a mythical figure like Santa Claus. As for Jesus Christ, we have the authority of a fellow named Paul of Tarsus (Galations 3:28):

In Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

So who cares to what race–or for that matter, gender–the “historical Jesus” belonged? The principal of absolute equality before God is a central principle of Christianity–or at least forms of Christianity that haven’t succumbed to the secularism (yes, that’s what it is, folks) that associates the faith with cultural or political conservatism or the pride of white identity.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 12, 2013

December 14, 2013 Posted by | Conservatives, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“If Preventing Hospital Layoffs Is So Important”: Maybe Republicans Should Stop Blocking Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

If you received an email this week from your angry uncle who watches Fox News all day, outraged by reports that “Obamacare” is causing layoffs at the Cleveland Clinic, let him know he can relax.

On November 25, The Daily Caller published an article titled, “Top U.S. hospital laying off staff due to Obamacare.” On Fox Business’ Markets Now, host Connell McShane reported on the “massive layoffs.” America’s Newsroom host Bill Hemmer claimed that the Cleveland Clinic was going to “shed workers.” Later, during the America’s News HQ, Fox reporter Chris Stirewalt claimed that the layoffs “rocked the community there in northeastern Ohio.”

But there’s one problem: the Cleveland Clinic is not laying off any employees.

Imagine that. After conservative media ran with this, Media Matters talked to Eileen Sheil, the Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, who said, “There have been several mis-reports and they keep mentioning that we’re laying off 3,000 employees. We’re not.” The medical facility is offering voluntary retirement to 3,000 eligible employees, but those aren’t “massive layoffs,” and blaming the Affordable Care Act for staffing decisions that have happened elsewhere for years is a stretch.

Indeed, Sheil added that the Clinic supports the law conservative media is so eager to denigrate: “We believe reform is necessary because the current state is unsustainable. The ACA is a step toward that change and we believe more changes will come/evolve as there are still many uncertainties. Hospitals must be responsible and do what we can to prepare and support the law.”

And while this incident offers another reminder about the reliability of conservative media outlets, there’s another angle to keep in mind. Though it doesn’t get as much attention as it should, Medicaid expansion is incredibly important to state hospitals, which will struggle badly in Republican-led states that reject the policy. Indeed, in some states, hospitals may end up closing their doors altogether, at least in part due to the political decision.

And when state hospitals close, there are actual “massive layoffs,” which affect the employees and the economy. It’s one of the reasons so many hospitals lobby Republican officials in “red” states to be more responsible on Medicaid expansion, though their appeals are generally ignored.

So here’s the question for conservative media: when hospital staffs are laid off because Republicans blocked Medicaid expansion, and it’s “Obamacare” that could have saved those jobs, how many reports will we see chastising GOP officials for their callousness and economic recklessness?

Probably not too many. Call it a hunch.

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 27, 2013

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Jobs, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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