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Bridget Johnson

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December 24, 2013 - 7:25 am
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santa

This Christmas season likely won’t be remembered as much for how Lodi residents helped replace the gifts stolen from the family of a soldier returning from Afghanistan as it will for the debate over the race of the fictional bearer of gifts.

It started with culture blogger Aisha Harris’ Dec. 10 op-ed for Slate in which she suggests replacing “a melanin-deficient Santa” with a multicultural representational penguin. Then it escalated when Fox’s Megyn Kelly empaneled three guests on her primetime show to discuss the piece and declared “for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.” Both women later said their comments were tongue-in-cheek.

Last week, I was pulled onto NPR, where I’m a regular contributor, to discuss the fracas with Harris and others — the fracas being an argument about the race of a fictional character who lives at the North Pole with elves and pilots a flying-reindeer sleigh to slide down a chimney with presents. Reactions there were varied.

My first thought was that, over the centuries, portrayals of Jesus and the saints have tended to reflect the culture of that region. The Netherlands’ Sinterklass looks wholly Northern European without much hint of the real St. Nicholas’ heritage in Asia Minor. Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jew, yet cultural representations around the world range from a Jesus with Asian features in the Far East to a black Jesus in Africa and a white, flowing haired representation in Europe. However the cultural interpretation, the legacy of the individual or meaning of their symbolism is not diminished. I doubt either Jesus or St. Nick care about the color of their skin as they do people emulating their works and listening to their words. Unfortunately, the black Santa debate has brought out a lot of ugly in what’s supposed to be a more inspired time of year, with comments left behind the cloak of anonymity on other sites’ stories including racist cracks about black Santa being on welfare or stealing toys instead of leaving them. That is definitely something neither Jesus nor St. Nicholas would utter.

Which leads to my ultimate conclusion about the great Santa debate, which I’ll explain on the next page.

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Top Rated Comments   
The historical figure upon whom Santa is based is white, just like the historical Jesus is Semitic. However, Santa as a symbol of love or as a myth - he can be any color. And certainly an actor representing Santa can be any color. If a black kid wants to be Santa for a Christmas pageant or a black Santa wants to get donations for the Salvation Army - who cares??? It's like Morgan Freeman playing the part of God. I don't actually believe God looks like Morgan Freeman. But I also don't care that a black man plays that character because I don't see God as being bound by any particular race. I think people have way too much time on their hands to be debating this stuff.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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“The Ethiopians say that their gods are flat-nosed and black,
While the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.
Yet if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw,
And could sculpt like men, then the horses would draw their gods
Like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape
Bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own.”
― Xenophanes- 5th century Greek Philosopher

There's nothing new under the sun.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, was Greek, but as far as I know, he helped anyone he could, regardless of race, status or any other considerations. If someone was doing bad things, he was fearless in defending the innocent—it didn't matter if one was the governor and the other a peasant, he defended what was right. It really doesn't matter what race Santa Claus is portrayed as, so long as he is portrayed as kind and a defender of those who need help.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It doesn't matter. It does matter to today's liberals, who are racialists who would racialize a tree. I was joking with an orthodox Egyptian Christian about SC and telling him SC was a Christian Ottoman Turk. When I asked the guy where he thought SC was from he guessed Sweden. If liberals want a reindeer driving 8 Santa Claus's with blue noses around with a whip I don't care. Some liberals don't even know if they're a man or a woman, so they have other fish to boil. Given that, I'm surprised the lib SC isn't a diamond asteroid named Radish.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
St. Nicholas lived in Asia Minor when it was still part of Rome and the Turks still lived somewhere in North East Asia (4th Century A.D.).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I know. I was purposefully conflating the two eras.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
it does, if the man in the red suit is supposed to be St. Nick-
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You nailed it. Our response should be " so what if he is white" . big deal. But then the demagogues (progs) will say remember "slavery" and the "Spanish Inquisition" and we White Christians sheepishly go hide in the corner with them now assuming the moral high ground. Some moral high ground: oral sex in the oval office, progs using curse words in all discourse, sex before marriage, anal sex between men, art deprecating Jesus, miley cyrus ,etc) To make us stay in the corner they cleverly always bring up supposedly "racism' and" ant i- semitism" . Yea we keep blacks out of basketball and keep Jews out of finance, law, medicine, professorships,media, and politics. What fools we are.
Merry Christmas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Great picture BTW.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not one.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
its the weirdest thing, santa was black, Jesus was black, the descendants of the American peoples were black, and all the Egyptian pharaohs of old were black. o.k. no problem. actually, I've heard that they were all black women as well.

whew, I feel better! it good to get all the 2013 p.c. crap out of my system all at once. now, where is that eggnog? 2014 here I come!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Does the color of the guy in the red suit matter one iota?"

does history matter? how about tradition? how about superstition? the question is not SHOULD it matter, but DOES it matter. obviously it does or these annual debates would not take place
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you are trying to be historical, he should look like a Greek bishop from the Fourth Century. His body is in Bari, Italy. What clothes are on him?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I havne'tg checked lately, but I suspect he's not wearing a red elve's costume.

I suspect he'd be pretty unhappy with what's been done with his name.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wow, Bridget!! Thanks for mentioning the Salvy’s shortfall.

Other than to the kettles at this time of year, I had dropped them from my list when I read about Ray Crock’s widow’s huge bequest some years back, figuring that, with careful husbanding, it would have to put them in Fat City pretty much permanently, and that my relative annual pittance could, with no shame, go elsewhere.

I should have read beyond the headlines, for now I see that it was earmarked for a program of Community Centers with a certainly worthy, but much longer-range goal than caring for the immediate needs of desperate people.

With many thanks to you, I’ll reverse that. They have always been dear to my heart. If you know more details about their present straits, perhaps you could tell us more?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks so much for your concern, ML. Different chapters have reported things like $400,000 less than last season in New Jersey, and kettle donations down 26% in Orlando. The national Salvation Army is projecting a shortfall of about $20 million. That includes a kettle drive season five days shorter than last year, retail sales down overall and fewer shoppers streaming past the kettles, and winter storms that kept people off the street.

You're absolutely right that while big-ticket donations are earmarked for valuable long-range projects (and that could be at the direction of the donor, as well), the S.A. relies extensively on its Christmas drive to supply people with food and shelter year-round.

A wonderful story out of the otherwise thin kettles this year, though - the S.A. is having a contest to pick a couple who couldn't otherwise afford a wedding to receive rings dropped in a Biloxi kettle: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/12/wedding-rings-donated-to-salvation-army-spark-contest-seeking-lucky-couple/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Despite the fresh tears in my coffee, you have made my day with this wonderful story at the link, plus the details about what's been going on with SA this year. Thanks to you, they've gone back to the top of my list.

Wishing you every blessing in the New Year! All the best, ML
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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