Fox News insists that Santa Claus and Jesus are/were white
And now to the really important things in the world. As the Christmas season (or holiday season, depending on your personal preference) is approaching, America’s culture wars tend to shift their attention towards certain religious and cultural icons.
It’s the ‘War on Christmas’ all over again
You might remember Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly’s invention of the ‘War on Christmas’ that is supposedly being waged by ‘the left’ against virtuous, red-blooded Middle America, because, as Bill would like you to believe, American liberals all hate America with a passion and are plotting to destroy all cultural traditions.
Non-white Santa Claus and Jesus versus ‘Murica
Now, Fox News is stirring up the latest controversy: Multiracial Santa Claus and Jesus. The liberals are now coming for white American Santa Claus and white American Jesus, so the story goes. What happened?
AIsha Harris, an author for Slate, suggested that Santa Claus should not be depicted only as a bearded white man, but maybe also as black, to be more inclusive and speak to all kids.
Unsurprisingly, this led to Fox News talking head Megyn Kelly insisting that both Santa Claus and Jesus are/were in fact white.
Depictions in popular culture versus history
There are two different aspects to this, naturally. First, the depictions of Santa Claus and Jesus. Both the commercialized Santa Claus, prominently featuring in commercials for Coca-Cola, for example, and Jesus have indeed for a long time been portrayed as white in America (in Europe, there’s the phenomenon of white Santa and Jesus, too).
‘Beyond the pale’: a Greek bishop and a Mediterranean Jew
Second there are the historical figures, assuming for the sake of argument that both existed. As the Raw Story article points out, the historical Jesus was a “Jew of Mediterranean descent.” Santa Claus is based on the Dutch Sinterklaas, who is in turn based on the fourth century Bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra, which was part of Greece at the time and is today part of modern Turkey. Migration aside, the average person from either of those regions does not look exactly like the white Europeans from Western and Northern Europe. The historical Santa Claus and Jesus are ‘beyond the pale’ (pun intended!).
In regards to the looks of the historical Santa Claus and Jesus, Fox News is therefore just wrong on the facts.
Just one more Culture War distraction
In my view, the permanent manufacturing of outrage over alleged assaults on a white (Judeo-)Christian culture in America by liberals is part of a wider strategy of Fox News and NewsCorp to distract their audience from economic policies that are in fact detrimental to many of their white middle class supporters. Even though many views held by individuals on either side of the political spectrum are sincerely held, functionally, the culture war mainly serves to deflect people’s critical attention from economic policies.
Here is the progressive talk show The Young Turks on the matter:
Here is the progressive talk show Majority Report with Sam Seder on the same topic:
Fox News responds to critics with more of the same. Here is the reporting from The Young Turks on how Megyn Kelly portrays herself as a victim of race-baiting.
“Megyn ‘Santa And Jesus Are White’ Kelly A Victim Of Race-Baiting”
[Update, 2013/12/17] Bill O’Reilly, inventor of the ‘War on Christmas’ weighs in
After Fox News’s Megyn Kelly defended white Santa and white Jesus, Bill O’Reilly himself weighed in on the matter [article + video]—by briefly insisting that she is right about white Santa and Jesus and then going off on a tirade about how the liberals hate Fox News because they see it as racist conservative propaganda machine.
Having at this point watched many typical clips from the network, I think that is for the most part an accurate description of Fox News. And Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and the usual suspects working under Roger Ailes know exactly how to play to the emotions and irrational fears of white conservative America.
Watch another entertaining clip from the progressive talk show The Young Turks on the matter:
“O’Reilly Defends White Santa & War On Christmas Continues”