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Much ado about Santa and Jesus

Uche Onyebadi

Oftentimes American media pundits seek solace in discussing issues you might think rightfully belong to a kindergarten class. This is especially true of times when there is a dearth of serious issues to talk about. Or, there could be some serious issues on the table, but some media organizations prefer to shove attention away from such important matters.

I was, therefore, not surprised that as global attention was on South Africa because of the death of international icon, Nelson Mandela, one of the programs on the Fox Newsnetwork found time to discuss, or more appropriately manufacture, an issue about the racial origin of Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. OK, you might say it is Christmas time, but what does that have to do with the anchor of the program reminding her viewers that both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ were white people?

The chief proponent of this all “important” subject is Megyn Kelly and her program is called “the Kelly file” on Fox News. She assembled a panel of “experts” to educate the entire world that the white race has produced two outstanding figures whose remarkable achievements and work are celebrated around Christmas. The panel was of the opinion that only those who wish to be politically correct ignore the fact of the origin of both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ.

As you might expect, pundits in other programs and other news networks did not wish to let the “Kelly” team spread falsehood and get away with it. The CNN, for instance, also produced its own teams in various programs that tried so hard to debunk the theory about Santa and Christ’s race. A CNN team (correctly) asserted that Santa Claus (originally St. Nicholas, a bishop) who today supposedly brings kids presents at Christmas was of Turkish origin and he was not even “white” in appearance. Indeed, he could have looked like he was from Nigeria or Ethiopia.

Then, Christ. The CNN team also reminded its viewers that Christ was born of parents who were Jewish. And that did not qualify him to be called a “white man” the way we know it today. In fact, Christ spent part of his formative years in Egypt where his parents reportedly took him for refuge away from the king who wanted him dead.

So, from where did Kelly’s team get its mythology about a white Santa Claus and Jesus Christ? Did Kelly not do her homework to know that both men couldn’t have been the “white men” she had labelled them? Or, did she just wish they were white and then tried to impose her vision on the rest of her viewers? Or, was she just playing the race game in order to increase the viewership of her program?

Almost a week later, Kelly went on air once again and revisited the issue. This time, truth and reality triumphed. But, instead of conceding that she had goofed, she claimed the issue of a white Santa and Christ was a big joke.  She was using the white Jesus and Santa issue to test the barometer of racism in America. I guess Kelly did not believe that anyone bought her defense. She may have underestimated the backlash to her revisionist history. The fact is that racism never went away in America, so why come up with a “joke” to see if racism had vanished?

No one can tell her real motives. But, it is a fact that the Republican Party which Fox News openly supports, was caught off-guard some weeks ago when the party ostensibly tweeted a tribute to the late civil rights icon, Rosa Parks, and praised her for helping to endracism in America! Americans were taken aback and the party quickly re-tweeted to correct itself on the claim that racism was dead and buried.

I have my serious doubts that Kelly was merely joking. Republicans tend to ignore the fact that racism still thrives in America because most of the time they are not the victims of racism in their country. But, I must also concede that racism is certainly not as pronounced as it was decades ago, although it is still a stubborn stain on the conscience of this great country.

The popular thinking when President Barack Obama was first elected to office in 2008 was that with his presence at the White House, the specter of racism would be on a downward slope. That may have been optimism taken too far. You don’t need an expert to convince you that part of Obama’s presidential troubles stem from the fact that he is an African American.

To date, millions of Americans on the far right of the political spectrum still believe that Obama has no business being the president because of their allegation that he was born in Kenya. His birth certificate contradicts this allegation, but the “birthers” as the believers of this false doctrine are called, even question the authenticity of the president’s birth certificate.

And if you think that this “birther” movement is for the poor and uneducated, then it is important to note that one of the big boys in the movement is billionaire Donald Trump.

Does it really matter that Santa is white or black? Does Jesus’ message gain credibility by his racial origin? My response to both questions is NO. But, to the Republicans and their Tea Party supporters, there is something to be said about Santa Claus and Jesus Christ being white. Racism defines a great deal of their thought process. Kelly was not joking.


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