WARNING: THIS TWO CENTS IS NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN THAT STILL BELIEVE IN THE "MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS!!"
Santa Claus is not a real person. I think the vast majority of us adults know that. And yet a national argument has broken out over whether he is or isn't a white guy. It all started last week with Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly expressing her outrage over an article written by an African-American woman fed up with Santa being portrayed as white in all of the advertising and TV shows this time of year. Kelly stated unequivocally that Santa Claus is as white as the driven snow through which flying reindeer--one with a red nose that lights up bright enough to guide the way--pull his sleigh.
That has led to a backlash from the folks at MSNBC and the Comedy Central duo of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report--not to mention about 6 BILLION Twitter comments angrily asserting the "fact" that Santa is white--or that Santa can be any color the person thinking about him wants him to be.
If your definition of "Santa" is that of Saint Nicholas--then you are in for a big surprise. Nicholas was born in Asia Minor--which is now part of Turkey. That makes it highly unlikely that he is the "shade of white" that we associate with people of Germanic, Nordic or English descent.
The modern "American" version of Santa Claus is an amalgamation of the man described in Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 poem A Visit From St Nicholas--where a large, rosy cheeked white guy is the main character--and the Coca-Cola ads of the 1920's and '30's featuring the fat white guy in a red suit enjoying a Coke with his plate of cookies instead of milk.
Regardless of how you think "Santa" came to be--the fact remains that he is a fictional character! The argument over his race is the same as fighting over what color the Lilliputians were in Gulliver's Travels (which I think Jonathan Swift would find wonderfully ironic), or the race of Chief Brody in Peter Benchley's Jaws, or what color Lennie is in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Ultimately, it doesn't matter--because they don't exist.
All that being said, what do you think the reaction would be if the Fox River Mall next year hired an African-American, Asian of Hispanic Santa? That would be top of the newscast huge--and the social media world would be in danger of implosion from all the posts from parents saying "I'm not racist--but I'm not taking my kids to see a Black Santa. They need to hire a "Real Santa".
I'm surprised President Obama isn't trying to get ahead of this controversy and get it settled before next week. Remember, we're supposed to use our holiday get-togethers to talk about getting signed up for health insurance.