Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Um, there is no Santa Claus

Not to be a spoil-sport, but I am kinda mystified by the "what race is Santa" controversy over at Fox News. What race is any imaginary person?

Bill O'Reilly claims that "Santa was a white person", based on an artists conception of the historic St. Nicholas and the fact that Nicholas lived in what is now Turkey. But that's pretty stupid too. First, St. Nicholas is not Santa Claus. If you showed 100 kids a picture of Nikolaos of Myra, I bet not a single one would say "Santa." And if you somehow went back in time and showed Nikolaos images and iconography of "Santa Claus" of the modern age, he would not recognize the fat man in red as himself. I'm also willing to bet that he never saw any reindeer in his life, was never anywhere near the North Pole, and was not married to someone known as "Mrs. Claus." While the idea of Santa Claus might have evolved over 1500 years out of traditions from the saint's day commemorating a fourth century Greek religious zealot, that does not mean that said religious zealot is Santa Claus.

Santa Claus is a fictional character. Lots of fictional characters are based, directly or indirectly, on actual people. But that does not mean the historic human being and the fictional character are the same thing. Most depictions of Santa Claus are of a fat white guy, at least in this country. But that doesn't mean that Santa is white. A black Santa is not wrong, it's just someone else's interpretation of the character. It can't be wrong. When a character is imaginary there is no right or wrong.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Fox News continues to try to defend something as stupid as this. Stupid is their business model. But someone needs to break it to the Fox News viewer that there is no such thing as Santa Claus. It's a hard world. Sometimes you need to face the harsh truth.