When Christmas Gets Nasty

By Jeffrey Page

Christmas is supposed to be a time of happiness and caring, calm and peace. But sometimes at this time of year we come across astonishing stories of cruelty and pettiness, not to mention staggering ignorance.

Often, the story is about what adults inflict on one another such as the classic and apparently never-ending tale of people being stomped by uncaring crowds as the doors open to a store offering great prices.

I did one such story in Paramus when a mob of about 200 – make it 199 – surged through the doors of a toy store, shoving a pregnant woman to one side and down to the floor. No one stopped to help. She was lucky; neither she nor her unborn baby was seriously hurt.

The worst abuse is that directed against children.

Here’s the 2013 version of the contest to see who can make life most miserable for a kid. The high school in Rio Rancho, N.M. recently held its annual Christmas costume day, and one freshman came dressed up as Santa Claus, complete with a red outfit and a big white beard. The kid is black.

His teacher reportedly took one look and declared, “Santa Claus is white. What are you doing wearing that?” This, in front of the rest of the class, leaving the black student shamed and humiliated. How can there be a skin color to a man who never existed?

The teacher reportedly informed the office himself of what he had been said and was suspended with pay pending the result of an investigation.

The teacher also called the boy’s home to apologize. Is there any apology that would suffice in a situation like this? As Harry Shearer has demonstrated with his apologies-of-the-week segment of his Le Show on NPR, “I’m sorry I embarrassed your son” is just a little too facile.

How would you handle it if the kid had been your son? The father of this particular black pupil says he’s not interested in apologies; he wants the teacher fired. Can you blame him?

Bear in mind the matter of racism, and also of the fact that teachers aren’t hired for the purpose of insulting, demeaning or disrespecting their students.

This racial poison never ends.

Elsewhere, Megyn Kelly, a news reader at Fox News, proclaimed to viewers that Santa Claus is white. This came after an objection by a Slate blogger, Aisha Harris, that Santa always being portrayed as white effectively alienates black kids. This, by the way, is something that corporations came to understand years ago when they began using black models and actors in their advertising.

This Kelly business at Fox gets more outrageous as it progresses. Again it is an argument over the race of someone who never was and isn’t now. Moreover Kelly said her story was “verifiable,” and I’d love to see her back it up with something a little more substantial than her word for it.

Clearly, Kelly needed an editor; someone to ask her where she got her information, someone who would examine her copy before she’s allowed to put such trash on the cable and make fools of Fox and of herself – and us for watching it.

Embarrassments never end when it comes to Fox News. Not only is Santa Claus a white man, Kelly noted in her essay, so was Jesus.

Editor? She needs a team of them.

Where did Kelly get this startling information about Jesus’s race? Maybe she looked at depictions of the Nativity by Caravaggio, Botticelli and Leonardo – three white Europeans – who all show the baby Jesus as white, and then maybe she assumed they were correct; hence the “verifiable fact.” I’d love to see the verification but I doubt it exists.

2 Responses to “When Christmas Gets Nasty”

  1. Lee Steup Says:

    I hold in my hands a copy of the children’s book, “Turky Trott and the Black Santa” by Kate Gambold Dyer, copyright 1942. On the next to the last page, Turky explains his recent experience to his mother saying, “Santy give me the tree. He give me the basket full of presents, too. An’ Mammy, he was BLACK! He just white for white chillun. An’ he’s black for black chillun.”
    Many times over I read this book as a child (yes, back in the Dark Ages) and from it I drew the conclusion that people often identify with culture heroes, religious figures etc. not only by imitating them, but also by visualizing them as resembling those who look up to them.

  2. Jo Galante Cicale Says:

    Embarrassment for Fox News? Oxymoron. And, if we know our history, Jesus was more than likely a man of color!

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