Evidently writing about racism is like working for the CIA: just when I thought I was done and out, they pull me back in. Race, racism, race baiting, race profiling, race walking, race horses, race for the cure, emb-race the suck—enough already! It’s time that we as a culture dug deep, looked within, and somehow found the strength to stop being so stupid.
The latest manufactured media hullabaloo is about the race of Santa Claus. That’s right, Santa Claus. And it all started with Slate blogger Aisha Harris.
Aisha got everybody riled up by saying that Santa should be a penguin.
According to Ms. Harris, Santa is too white; he’s not black enough. (Never mind that he spends all year at the North Pole—not exactly a prime tanning region.) The obvious solution to Ms. Harris is to turn him into a penguin, so he’s both black and white. Easter has a bunny, she says, so why not have a Christmas penguin? I’ll tell you why not: It’s true that penguins are black and white, but that’s all. What about red, yellow, brown, etc.?
Conclusion? Ms. Harris evidently thinks that black and white are the only races that matter, i.e., Ms. Harris is a racist. The only logical solution I can see to this very pressing non-issue is to invent a Christmas Chameleon, a creature that is or can be any and all colors of the multi-cultural spectrum. He could slither down the chimney and bring all the sensitive boys and girls some Ritalin. Except he couldn’t be a ‘he’ as that would exclude all the ‘shes,’ so the chameleon would have to be gonochorous. (Say, wasn’t that a Boy George song in the 80s? “Gono-gono-gono-gono-chorous-chame-le-on. Red, gold, and green…”)
Picture it: the children are all nestled, snug in their beds on Christmas Eve straining and hoping to hear through the gently falling snow the muffled jingle of bells that would foretell an imminent visit by the All-inclusive Rainbow-hued Asexual Christmas Chameleon.
If that doesn’t say “Christmas” I don’t know what does. At least the gay yuletides would be happy.
To be sure, we can’t take what Ms. Harris said too seriously, as her Santa Penguin is just an obvious ploy to break into the what’s-black-and-white-and-red-all-over riddle industry. But what about the enraging response to Harris’ piece by ace Fox News reporter Megyn Kelley? What are we to make of that? And perhaps a better question: Why do people get so upset by a woman who can’t even spell ‘Megan’?
Mys. Kelley had a 15-minute segment on her show about Santa’s race that incensed a number of people because she said flat out that Santa was white. And all of this is on the heels of a New Mexico teacher being suspended for saying as much to one of his black students. Now I’m no rocket surgeon, but I’m a little confused as to what exactly the controversy is. Sure, these insensitive sycophants should know better than to echo things they have been taught repeatedly and known their entire lives through books, advertising and animagic TV specials, but wasn’t the whole point of Ms. Harris’ blog that Santa is too white? And now people are getting in trouble for saying that Santa is white? Aren’t they agreeing with her? Are we supposed to not agree with her? And could it be that the entire purpose of this controversy is simply to get bloggers to use their italics button?
After doing extensive research on this topic, I discovered something that the key players in this controversy might not know, and I’ll whisper it in case there are some readers who also may not know—or even want to know—but…
Santa Claus is a fictional character.
It’s true (although that doesn’t seem to matter much anymore). Pardon my old-fartiness self disclosure, but this whole thing harkens back to when Dan Quayle was attacking Murphy Brown, also a fictional character. And as far as I know, the race of other fictional characters has never been questioned. Do people argue about the race of Othello or Ulysses or The Simpsons? Of course not.
Santa Claus is white. But let me be perfectly clear: in saying this I am agreeing with everyone involved and therefore cannot be attacked for racism or insensitivity. Santa Claus is a distortion of Sinterklaas, who is a derivative of Saint Nicholas, who was Greek. And we all know that we couldn’t let Santa be totally Greek because then everyone would be upset with him over his incessant smoking and financial irresponsibility and feta breath. (Okay, now you may attack me for racism and insensitivity.)
I suppose another reason people are so upset with Mygyn Kylly is because she stated in the same segment that Jesus, too, was white—at which point it was just becoming obvious that she was assuming Santa and Jesus were employees of Fox News. This statement prompted such outrage that The Washington Post went so far as to take “a factual approach” to the statement, “interviewing religious scholars about the long debate over the race of Jesus.” Religious scholars love debates like this because it forces them to root out the justification for their tenure. I’m actually more than a little curious how long this debate has been going on since every historical source we have says quite plainly that Jesus was Jewish. But whatever.
I can’t help but think these ‘controversies’ would go away if instead of trying to make the likes of Jesus and Saint Nicholas out to be more like us, we were to work equally hard to make ourselves out to be more like them.