As per my usual morning routine I logged on to the National Weather Service’s website Tuesday to see what the day’s forecast was. A link at the top of the page caught my eye. It read, “what are your chances of having a white Christmas?”
Probably about the same as Fox News’ Megyn Kelly being invited to join the NAACP, I thought as I read it. But I clicked on it anyway and, surprise, based on climatological data collected over the years, we here in Mississippi have a less than 10 percent chance of seeing an inch or more of snow for Christmas Day.
That’s still better than the chance of getting anything resembling the truth from the folks at Fox.
In case you haven’t heard by now, Kelly, on her prime time show last Wednesday, was commenting on a piece by writer Aisha Harris that appeared on Slate.com’s website arguing we should do away with ethnically-depicted Santas and just make him a penguin.
“Everybody loves penguins,” Harris had written.
Kelly, addressing the children in her audience (i.e everybody watching), attempted to ensure her viewers that, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he’s white, going on to add, just like Jesus.
Oh, brother. Here we go again, I thought. Kelly, who is a white woman who at least appears to be blonde, went on to say that anyone who believes Santa and Jesus aren’t white needs to get over it.
I’m not sure what disturbs me more about her statements, that she believes Santa and Jesus were white or that she’s (chronologically, at least) an adult who still believes in Santa Claus. Or maybe that she purports to know the truth, something apparently not allowed under a Fox contract.
Historically speaking, Jesus was a Palestinian Jew from Nazareth with family ties to Ethiopia and Egypt which would make him at the very least dark-skinned and not blond-haired and blue-eyed. A British newspaper, The Nation, suggests, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that Jesus was black because he, “called everybody brother, liked gospel and couldn’t get a fair trial.”
Santa, on the other hand, was said to originate with St. Nicolas, a Greek bishop living in Turkey. Not many blondes there, either. As the Santa legend evolved and was adopted by other countries, there emerged Sinterklaas in parts of northern Europe. Sinterklaas was accompanied by an elf named Zwarte Piet, which literally translates as Black Peter, because he was black.
Trying to argue that either figure – Jesus or Santa – was red, purple or green is as ridiculous as trying to argue which is better, stuffing or potatoes. It’s a matter of individual taste. It’s whatever we feel most comfortable with. But to argue both are white without any kind of scientific or historical data to back it up is just, well, racist.
After all, in the end, it’s not the color of their skin that really matters. What matters is a person’s belief in them.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org