On Megyn Kelly's show last night, the Fox News host discussed a piece by Slate's Aisha Harris about how the typical representation of Santa Claus as a white man had been confusing in her youth. Kelly addressed the piece, "Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore," head-on, for the kids.
When I saw this headline I kinda laughed and I said, "Oh, this is ridiculous. Yet another person claiming it's racist to have a white Santa." 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.
"Santa is what he is." This is true! Santa is, as the story goes, a man who lives in an uninhabitable Arctic hellscape where elves make toys year-round so that he can deliver them to every house on Earth over the course of a single night by flying around in a regular-sized sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer. Also a fun thing about Santa: he does not exist, except in the hearts and minds of those who truly believe.
Still, it is pretty considerate that Megyn Kelly, at 9:45 p.m. on the East Coast, would refrain from shattering the myth of Santa Claus for her millions of viewers, children and children-at-heart. (By the way, if you sit in the middle of the venn diagram comparing "Megyn Kelly viewers" and "believers in Santa Claus," please drop us a line.)
After Jedediah Bila defended Harris's piece about the confusion behind arbitrarily assigning race to a fictitious person who breaks into houses in the dead of night, Kelly continued:
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—but my point is: how do you revise it, in the middle of the legacy of the story, and change Santa from white to black?
Jesus is a real historical figure, but whether he was white is actually a pretty large matter of debate. Some researchers suggest that "the historical Jesus would be a Middle Eastern Jew of medium, if not dark, complexion." So that assertion about Jesus's whiteness is not entirely sound.
In the segment, Monica Crowley brings up that Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, who was a white man. That's a fair point about authenticity, but it's also being a bit selective. In addition to being white, was Saint Nicholas also a monster of commerce who kept an NSA-like list of all the nice or naughty actions committed by the world's children? Doubtful.
So this holiday season, create Santa in your own image. The jolly fool could be fat, skinny, white, black, male, female, a killer robot, or even Tim Allen. It's kind of like waging your own personal war on Christmas.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.