Megyn Kelly at FOX news has revved up progressives with her assertion that Santa Clause--and Jesus--were (are?) white. Ed Schultz, Jon Stewart, the Young Turks and faith bloggers at CNN and other venues all have weighed in. The relevant portions of the segment below:
Now Santa, as currently conceived, is the creation of Clement Clarke Moore, who composed the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Originally published anonymously in a newspaper, the poem later appeared in book form with illustrations by F. O. C. Darley. These illustrations, as well as those by Thomas Nast and other 19th century illustrators, established our current image of Santa Claus.
Moore's poem no doubt derived partly from the Dutch folk tales of Sinterklaas.
The original St. Nicholas, however was not a fictional character, but a third century Greek Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor.
Yes, all these men were of European origins. And Europeans are conventionally described as white.
Kelly created more controversy by adding that the other important component of the Christmas season, Jesus of Nazareth, also was white.
That, of course, led to biological and anthropological speculations about the race of Jesus. This only added more confusion to the controvery. Strictly speaking, race is a political category, not a biological one. Moreover, white is a color, not a race.
I suppose we can agree that Jesus was not a European but, dermatologically speaking (or at least chromatologically speaking), can be described as white. Now we could go for swarthy, not a commonly accepted palette. A well-known conservative commentator, however, got excommunicated by the grandfather of all conservative periodicals for describing the Arab cousins of the Jews that way.
Interestingly, little has been written about the woman who kindled this seasonal sideshow, Aisha Harris. In Slate magazine, Ms. Harris disclosed the self-esteem issues she suffered as a black child in a world of white Santas. She argued for a makeover. On this point Megyn Kelley completely misrepresented the point made by Harris. Kelly implied that Harris argued that the makeover should include a dermatological transmogrification of Santa into a black man. Harris advocated nothing of the kind.
She suggested that Santa be remade into a penguin. And in another fairly common manifestation of the journalistic ignorance of anything outside of writing, Harris identified penguins as mammals. As we can plainly see from the documentary below, penguins, even during the Christmas season are birds.
So merry Christmas, whether you believe in reindeer who can fly or penguins who cannot.