When Bing Crosby crooned his dream of a “white Christmas,” he was pining for snow. But that was so 70 years ago. Today, Fox News wants you to know that it’s not about snow at all, it’s about the cultural hegemony of white people.
Granted, if we had a dime for every doltish remark uttered on Fox News, by now we’d be rolling in dough. But hey, it’s the holiday season, so why not break from the news cycle to indulge in what Keith Richard calls “legs-in-the-air laughter” – at the expense of Fox’s top blondette, Megyn Kelly. She recently described herself as “a straight news anchor,” but apparently her definition of that term is a tad more flexible than what it was in Walter Cronkite’s day. Because I can’t imagine Uncle Walter telling the kids of America that Jesus is white and Santa is white and that anyone who thinks otherwise is out to lunch.
Kelly got all incensed last week when a blogger on Slate wrote about how, in black neighborhoods, Santa is often depicted as a black guy so that the black kids can more easily identify. The “straight news anchor” enlisted multiple guests to chew over the issue, and as the minutes passed, she got increasingly worked up:
“And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa is just white….Santa is what he is….Just because (that) makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact – as is Santa, I want you kids watching to know that.”
Wait – Santa is an historical figure white guy? Apparently I’ve long been mistaken in my belief that Santa is a fictional character, so thank you, Fox News, for clearing that up.
Actually (this is true), today’s made-up Santa can be traced all the way back to a real monk named St. Nicholas, who was born roughly 1730 years ago in a town called Patara – in what is now known as Turkey. That’s right, folks, nobody knows whether the real guy was white or not. But tales of his legendary beneficence spread far and wide, until finally, 1000 years after he lived, the Dutch coined “Sinter Klaas,” their nickname for St. Nicholas. This is a wild guess, but I bet Megyn didn’t know about the monk’s true lineage.
Anyway, the real treat was her authoritative take on the Christmas child: “Jesus was a white man.” Thank you, Fox News. As Johnny Carson used to say, “This I did not know!”
It’s no wonder that Fox News devotees, according to multiple studies, are dumber than regular viewers of other networks. Case in point was her Jesus pronouncement, which she billed as a “verifiable fact.” But the truth, according to multiple historians and scholars, is that if the real Jesus were alive today, he’d probably get the third degree from TSA agents at American airports.
As New Testament expert Mark Goodacre of the University of Birmingham told the BBC a decade ago, all evidence from the Middle East suggests “a relatively dark skinned Jesus. In contemporary parlance, I think the safest thing is to talk about Jesus as a ‘man of color.'” Vincent Wimbush, a Bible expert at California’s Claremont Graduate University, concurred: “He’s of Mediterranean stock, and it’s quite clear what that means.” The BBC did another documentary two years ago, tracing Jesus’ racial heritage, and concluded: “Experts have decided Jesus would have been anything but pearly white.”
And the other day, religious scholar Reza Aslan, author of the bestselling Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, said: “He was a Galilean. As a Galilean, he would have been what is referred to as a Palestinian Jew. He would have looked the way that the average Palestinian would look today.”
Which brings us to Megyn’s tortured mea culpa, which she offered on the air Friday night.
She said she had just been kidding around: “Humor is part of what we try to bring to the show. Sometimes that’s lost on the humorless.” She said she was being persecuted for being white: “The knee-jerk instinct by so many people (is to) race bait, and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News Channel.” But she tossed in this line, too: “I also did say Jesus was white. As I learned in the last two days, that is far from settled.”
Wait – she only “learned in the last two days” that Jesus’ racial makeup was “far from settled”? So why would a self-described straight news anchor declare on the air that “Jesus was white man” without first learning the facts?
That’s a cinch to answer: It was all about marketing. Fox News retails infauxtainment for its core demographic, the conservative Caucasian cocoon. Its onging mission is just a bit more obvious during Christmas season. And with nine days to go on the calendar, I look forward to Megyn’s scoop that white Jesus with flowing blonde hair would’ve voted 50 times to repeal Obamacare.
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