In case you missed it, the latest war on Christmas is not about Christmas per se. It’s about whether Santa Claus is a person of pallor or a person of color. The kerfuffle started last week when Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly responded on air to a post at Slate by “culture blogger” Aisha Harris titled Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore. “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable,” Kelly said, referring to St. Nick’s usual portrayal as a lily white, “doesn’t mean it has to change.”
On Sunday, Harris (who has recommended that as a compromise Santa be represented as a penguin, i.e., black and white) responded to Kelly’s response. Appearing on CNN, she said:
It kind of reinforced my point, actually. The fact that Kelly and some of the other guests on the show were insisting that Santa is white, just spoke to the reason why I wrote the piece: a lot of people out there automatically assume that Santa must be white, and it’s laughable that he should be anything else.
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It should be pointed out that, although this highbrow argument was limited to the fictional character fleshed out in the poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (the authorship of which, N.B., is also currently the subject of debate!), the race of the real Saint Nicholas, Nikolaos of Myra, has also been disputed. In the iconic 18th-century Russian painting shown here, Saint Nikolaos appears to have dark skin. Feel free to take up this issue with friends and relatives over the holidays, provided you set aside time to argue about Obamacare.
But I digress. Where there is an opportunity to weigh in on controversial matters of race, you can count on MSNBC host Touré to oblige. In this instance, however, Touré’s reaction to the brouhaha was partly unexpected. No, I’m not referring to this comment, picked up on by Mediaite’s Noah Rothman and others:
There is already a generous, benevolent black man in your children’s lives who lives in a place that some people think is magical, who has given something to each and every American, whether they have been naughty or nice. You know who I’m talking about.
The assertion, which is followed by a clip of someone meant to look like Barack Obama rapping, was obviously intended to be tongue in cheek.
I am referring rather to Touré’s insistence at 4:51 in the video here that “race is fictional. It’s not a biological reality. It’s a sociopolitical construct.”
Huh? Here is a guy who has repeatedly bent the ear of whoever will listen over perceived racial oppression now claiming that race doesn’t exist. Minutes earlier in his diatribe he talks about white supremacy. But how could such a thing exist independently of race.
He also quips during his merry rant (at least I think he’s joking) that Santa is unequivocally black. But if race is not a biological reality, how does he know?
The debate over Santa Claus’s race is a moot point anyway, since the figure in the Christmas tradition craved by Harris, Touré, and others already exists. He is, in fact, a central figure in the story of Saint Nicholas, at least as it is told in the Low Countries. His name is Zwarte Piet (which translates to “Black Pete”) and he Santa’s indispensable companion (pictured here). He is also, as his name implies, black enough to be Obama’s son, if Obama had a son.
I am guessing that Zwarte Piet won’t cut it for Touré and fellow grievance mongers because he is second banana.
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