What would you expect from this corner but a spirited defense of Megyn Kelly?
Aside from being blonde, she is paid to convey truth per memo from Fox News management. So when declaring as “verifiable fact” the racial makeup of Santa (and Jesus!) to be white, like Fox News management., she is simply securing her job. Get off her case.
The person who has no defense: that teacher in Rio Rancho, N.M., who told a dark-skinned student the same thing:
Get real, kid; Santa Claus doesn’t come in your color.
As for Kelly: Too much attention has been directed at the baselessness of her claim. Truthfulness is a high bar her employer has never deigned to ascend. Why demand it now?
It’s pointless to observe, as Jon Stewart did, that the original St. Nicholas was most likely a Turk, making him closer in appearance to TNT’s Charles Barkley than Fox News' agent of mirth Karl Rove.
But those are facts. And, well, consider the news source.
What I cannot imagine is a teacher in New Mexico saying Santa is an Anglo.
Early in my career I ran a newsroom in a lovely place called the San Luis Valley. Though titularly in Southern Colorado, culturally it is an annex of New Mexico. And so it was that the Santa figure to whom my first son gurgled his first-ever Christmas wishes was not Megyn Kelly-tinted.
Pancho Claus, they called him. His white beard hung low, betraying a hint of black scrabble. His belly was not so round. But he was jolly and elf-like, and brown-skinned.
It is sad to scandalous that a teacher in a richly diverse environment such as New Mexico would say what that one did.
Yes, sad; but as an editor once told a young Virginia O’Hanlon in an editorial in the New York Sun, some people “think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.”
The most inspiring vision of Santa I’ve ever seen was in a mall in Waco, Texas. A friend named Melvin Rueffer, who is deaf, clad himself in red suit and white beard for just a few minutes each holiday season. For a specially arranged audience, he subbed for a hearing Santa. Then he and a small procession of deaf children communicated, by hand, the little ones' Christmas wishes heard in sign.
I’ve seen a plus-sized woman show up at a school pageant as Santa. I’ve seen a 12-year-old (big for his age) in the same role. No one assembled a panel on Fox News to say, “That’s not factually correct,” or to say, “See? The war on Kris Kringle continues.”
Yes, Virginia, Santa is black. Yes, Virginia, Santa is brown. Santa has slanted eyes. Santa is Cuban. Santa is Filipino. Santa speaks Vietnamese and Cajun.
(Sorry to alarm anyone, but just like those pernicious ballots that some Fox News viewers believe to be an abomination, Santa is multilingual.)
Santa bats right, throws left. Santa bats left, throws right. He is a machine worker. He is an attorney. Santa works the docks and the fields, the night shift, the morning shift. He is in the union and in management. Santa is on unemployment. In too many cases, Santa’s unemployment has expired.
Santa is a he. Santa is a she. Santa is a she who used to be a he, and vice versa.
Santa is you, me, us. That’s what makes Santa such a great concept.
Santa wasn’t invented by Coca Cola. Santa wasn’t born on 34th Street. As that sage editorial writer once wrote back to that little girl, Santa is wherever “the heart of childhood” beats.
And that is as “fact”-based as this debate needs to be.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.