It’s hard to believe in the ‘white Santa’ promoted by Fox News

The notion that kids will be ‘confused’ if Father Christmas sometimes looks black, Chinese or Turkish is absurd

Santas come in all shapes and sizes, so why not all colours?

Santas come in all shapes and sizes, so why not all colours?

Sat, Dec 21, 2013, 00:01

What lesson can we draw from the recent Santagate controversy over at Fox News? We might surmise that there’s too much lead in the water at Murdoch Towers.

We could deduce that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is too subtle to count as effective satire of that deranged institution.

Here’s something else. The annual paranoia as regards the “War on Christmas” points up the fact that Fox News acts as a sort of utopian kaleidoscope through which unreconstructed leftists (such as this Grinch) can view and improve the miserable world. US president Barack Obama is inveigling socialism into the US. An attempt is being made to fillet religious doctrine from all public institutions. Liberal commissars are coming to take away the assault rifles.

Well, this all sounds fabulous. Fox truly is the good news station. How long will it take before Obama and his thought police have fully instituted this secular social democracy?

Sadly, like one of Scrooge’s ghosts, Fox must eventually dump us back in the real world where corporations dictate government policy, children are taught pre-medieval myths and Santa serves the interests of Sony and Coca-Cola.

The latest kerfuffle is more amusing than most. Megyn Kelly, one of Fox’s more popular anchors, was addressing an article on Slate.com by Aisha Harris. The good-natur- ed piece argued that, growing up as an African American, Harris felt uncomfortable about the constant representation of Santa as a white man.


Default Santa
“Two decades later, America is less and less white,” she wrote. “But a melanin-deficient Santa remains the default in commercials, mall casting calls, and movies. Isn’t it time that our image of Santa better serve all the children he delights each Christmas?”

To be fair to Kelly and her panel, they were reasonably tolerant of Harris’s arguments concerning exclusion. Their pretended difficulty was a practical and semantic one.

Giving 2013 one of its most memorable quotes, Kelly, after reassuring kids that Santa was real, launched the fightback against this latest offensive in the Christmas wars: “Jesus was a white man too . . . I mean, he was a historical figu- re, that was a verifiable fact, as is Santa . . . I just want the kids watching to know that.”

This was barmy enough. But the contribution from Monica Crowley really pushed the boat into Nutcase Creek. “Santa Claus is based on a real person, St Nicholas, a Greek bishop,” she said. “You can’t take facts and then change them to fit some kind of political agenda.”

It’s at moments like this that you start to wonder whether Fox News is an elaborate hoax. If Crowley’s argument is followed to its natural conclusion, we must deduce that the popular representation of Santa Claus – fat bloke, red suit, reindeer fancier – is a hist- orically accurate depiction of that fourth-century holy man.

Somehow he juggled his duties in what is now Turkey with a career making several billion toys a year at the North Pole. He kept flying reindeer and was able to visit every child in the world on just one night. If reports by Bruce Springsteen and Perry Como are to be credited, he kept rigorous records on those who were naughty and nice.


Historical figure
This must all be true. I mean it’s not as if Crowley and Kelly would change the facts to suit their own agenda. They surely couldn’t be arguing that it’s okay to add in the flying beasts, Arctic homestead and prodigious toy production, but wrong to make tweaks in the historical figure’s pigmentation. That would sound just the tiniest bit racist. Would it not?

(Let’s not even get into the argument that, born in south- ern Turkey, the real St Nicholas was not nearly so white as Crowley and Kelly pretend.)

The truth is it’s hard to think of a character better suited to such transformation (if transformation it is) than Santa Claus. Everything about the current manifestation has been fashioned to make children feel safe, comfortable and wanted. Invention is all.

The notion that kids will be “confused” if Father Christmas sometimes looks black, Chinese or, well, Turkish is so absurd that it hardly needs addressing. They accept the fact that he simultaneously greets friends in many different department stores across many cities. They allow that he can visit a billion homes in one night. They’re hardly likely to worry about flexible ethnicity.

Anyway, there’s no guarantee that any such pressures will be placed upon the wee lambs. Christmas ends. Fox News puts away the relevant kaleidoscope. The year passes. And, despite all those imagined wars, 12 months later, Santa returns in his snowy Caucasian glory. If only we could live in Fox’s utopian wonderland.

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