For the past decade now, when this holiday season rolls around we can always count on a yearly kerfuffle from someone from the Right — the continuing war on Christmas. That this annual present comes this year from a host on Fox News is no surprise.
On her recent show The Kelly File, Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly ignited a conflagration when she stated that both Jesus and Santa Claus are White. Kelly’s assertion was a response to Aisha Harris’s (African American, and Slate culture blogger) contestation that the commercial image of Santa Claus, in this day and age, should no longer be a White man, but rather a penguin.
”Two decades later, America is less and less White, 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?… I propose that America abandon Santa as fat, old White man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin,” Harris wrote in her blog.
While Kelly has backpedaled on her assertion that Jesus is White, she has remained, however, both unwavering and unapologetic in her claim that Santa is.
“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is White.”
For Kelly the incontrovertible evidence she cited was the 1947 Hollywood classic Miracle on 34th Street, and the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. In her cleanup effort to stem the avalanche of criticism that she is, at best, naively insensitive, and, at worst, outrightly racist, Kelly now states her remarks were merely tongue-in cheek, calling her critics ”humorless.”
Last year, in 2012, the Right’s holiday kerfuffle was about what the appropriated season’s greeting would be exemplified the continued chapter in the culture war spearheaded by what the Christian Right calls the ”War on Christmas.” With Hanukkah (except this year in my lifetime), Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and Christmas all celebrated this time of year, one would think that we would embrace an all-inclusive seasonal greeting emblematic of our nation’s religious diversity with two simple words: Happy Holidays!
In 2011, the governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, vexed his Republican colleagues by renaming the state house Christmas tree a ”holiday tree.” ”The governor defended his decision by arguing that it is in keeping with the state’s founding in 1636 by religious dissident Roger Williams as a haven for tolerance — where government and religion were kept separate,” the Daily Mail reported.
Some see the war on Christmas as an assault on Christianity, where the mere utterance of the word is gradually being expunged from the holiday public lexicon. And it feels to these Christian holiday revelers, the country, in its effort to be political correct, is moving toward religious intolerance.
The political correctness concerning how to inclusively greet, speak and commercially showcase this holiday season in public borders on fanatical. Many Christians will argue that the war on Christmas has been going on for decades, but it revved up again with a new band of Christian soldiers in 2005, helped along with Fox News praising John Gibson’s new book, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought.
“You can’t say ’Merry Christmas’ at a school or office anymore; only ’Happy Holidays’ is acceptable. No more caroling in public. Friendship trees instead of Christmas trees. No more Santa Claus, treetop stars, wreaths, Christmas music — even instrumental versions! — or school performances of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Even the colors red and green are under attack.” Gibson wrote.
The intolerance of multicultural themes, Santa Clauses of color or no Santa Clauses for this holiday in 2013 has little to do with a heightened renewal of the birth of Christ by the Christian Right. Instead, it has much to do with a backlash spearheaded by Christian conservatives as the country continues to grow more culturally and religiously pluralistic.
And for the record, the real St. Nicholas (the Christian saint who inspired Santa Claus) hailed from Turkey.
Rev. Irene Monroe is a Huffington Post blogger and freelance journalist.