Santa Claus Ethics, Stupid Division

I don't care WHAT color this guy is, I'm getting my kid OUT of there!

I don’t care WHAT color this guy is, I’m getting my kid OUT of there!

The fact that there is a serious debate going on in the blogosphere and news media whether 1) Santa Claus is white; 2) whether it is racist to maintain he is white and 3) whether he should be some other race or species is more evidence that the United States of America is having a nervous breakdown. It also demonstrates that race-baiters and the insanely politically correct have no sense of proportion, moderation or shame, and that too many of those who are confronted by these annoying people don’t have the sense to know when to just nod, pat them on the heads and say, “Sure, sure…if it makes you happy.” Here are some loosely connected observations on a controversy too dumb to justify organization:

  • This whole ridiculous controversy was launched by the beyond idiotic Slate piece by Aisha Harris that I wrote about here. That’s right: she’s the genius who thinks that penguins are mammals. Anyone that ignorant and intellectually lazy should not have articles published anywhere, about anything. Such maleducated pundits should not be trusted, because their basic knowledge base is suspect, indeed demonstrably corrupted. Garbage in, garbage out. Allow someone who thinks birds are mammals to inject topics into the national debate, and arguments about whether Santa Claus is white is about what you can expect to get. “You know—morons.”
  • That does not excuse anyone, including normally rational Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly, who insisted that Santa was white in over-wrought and semi-inarticulate fashion ( “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”), from elevating the “real” race of Santa Claus to the importance of, say, whether Bert and Ernie are gay. Who cares, Megyn? What does race have to do with Santa Claus? Indeed, what should race have to do with Jesus either? Here’s a Christmas song on point, by the late, lamented Mr. Andy Williams:
  • Santa Clause is not a historical figure. Like James Bond, Robin Hood, Dracula and Moby Dick, he is a fictional character inspired by reality. The modern day Santa Claus is a long, long way from the Bishop of Myra, Saint Nicholas, who was technically Greek and lived in part of what is now Turkey. That eccentric gentleman was grafted to the Norse god Odin, the British “Father Christmas” and other traditions, until 19th Century cartoonist Thomas Nast, the same artist who gave us the GOP elephant and the Democratic donkey, drew him in the form we typically see him today. None of this is committed to statute or edict, and if our culture decides that Santa is, rather than a bearded, white, jolly fat guy in a red suit (part of this also comes from the 20th century poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and who wrote that is even in dispute), is really black, female, Tim Allen, a polar bear drinking a Coke or a mammalian penguin, so what? The character is a symbolic icon, that’s all, representing, depending on your point of view, giving, generosity, innocence, childhood, the persistence of benign magic in the world, or crass commercialism. He/she/it can be whatever we want it to be, or something unique and different to all.
  • Insisting that Santa is white is technically correct, and similar to arguing that Dorothy Gale, Willie Loman or James West (of “The Wild, Wild West”) are white. But all of these characters have been portrayed by black actors with great success, and no tangible harm resulted, either to the characters or the audiences. In theater, this is called “non-traditional casting.”
  • This does not mean, however, that stating the literal truth—Santa is a traditionally a white man—makes someone a racist. To do what is being done to Kelly is race-baiting at its rock-bottom worst. There are people who don’t like non-traditional casting in every case; I don’t, for example. One argument against black Santas is the same as the argument for black Santas—it makes a statement that it matters what color Santa Claus is. It doesn’t matter…but that doesn’t change the fact that the character was devised and evolves as a white guy.  Again. so what? And if you believe “So what?,” why change him? Megyn Kelly is a traditionalist. That’s not racist. Presumably she’d also object to this Gene Autry Christmas song. Actually, I’m not sure I don’t object to it too—Gene wrote a lot of great Christmas songs, but honestly:
  • Now we have this incident, in which a Cleveland High School teacher confronted a black student who dressed as Santa Claus for a Christmas-themed costume day. The teacher said, “Don’t you know Santa Clause is white? Why are you wearing that?” The teacher was disciplined by the school. Good. Presumably he was not disciplined for stating a fact, but for making  such a statement in a way that marginalized a student and suggested that because he is black, he can’t portray a cultural icon. That’s cruel and gratuitous, and the teacher’s judgement in this case stunk. The problem with the episode is that it can be framed, as the conservative media is (predictably) framing it, as an example of enforced political correctness. It ought to be seen as a school properly admonishing a teacher for mistreating a student. Imagine a black girl coming the class on Halloween dressed as Cinderella, and being asked by her teacher, “Don’t you know Cinderella is white?” (Brandy played Cinderella in the last TV version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, now on Broadway. It doesn’t matter what race Cinderella is.)

Most important of all, children don’t care what color Santa is. As with most controversies involving Christmas, this is the adults behaving badly. Shame on all of them. Santa’s bringing coal for their stockings in his whirlybird.


Sources: Ann Althouse, Mediaite 1,2,3




87 thoughts on “Santa Claus Ethics, Stupid Division

  1. I actually thoroughly enjoyed “Wild, Wild West”, especially Kenneth Branaugh’s villain, Dr. Lovelace. Will Smith displayed a comedic talent I didn’t know he had.

  2. I find it telling that the articles on this site tend to fall along conservative lines OR filed under the “who cares” category. I’ve yet to see an article that posit’s a left leaning view point.

    Question: If the the Obama’s had a Black Santa at the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony would the right wing say, “who cares?” Would Megyn Kelly say, “who cares?” Would Jack Marshall say, “who cares?”

    No, I bet they would not say who cares. They would say its a War On Christmas. Ergo..a war on Christians.

    • 1. You haven’t read enough articles here, then, and your conclusion is demonstrably false. Or you have read enough articles, and you’re a fool. I can’t be sure.
      2. It’s even been false recently, as in the “Affluenza” flap.
      3. If you think you would hear one peep out of me if the Obamas had a black Santa, probably played by James Earl Jones, you’re nuts. As this post suggested, there’s nothing wrong with that, which is not at all the same as “who cares.” Not that you are capable of comprehending such distinctions.
      4. I know what partisan positions often cluster together.I do not care whether a position is popular with the Left or the Right, and would never avoid a conclusion after objective analysis that agreed with the position of one one pole or the other.
      5. By the way, is anti-race-baiting a left-leaning or right-leaning point of view? Is maintaining that George Zimmerman was racially profiling Trayvon Martin in the absence of evidence, and that he was not defending himself despite all the evidence, a left-leaning or right-leaning point of view?

      This site, which is to say me, is anti-school prayer, pro-gay rights and gay marriage, anti-government surveillance, pro-legalization of current illegal aliens, anti-torture, waterboarding and rendition, pro-sufficient tax increases to eliminate the deficit, pro-right of privacy…and that’s just a start.

      Your accusation of bias is an insult and unjustified, as well as contrary to the logic and lesson of the site, which is that if you judge the validity of a policy or position according to which partisan camp it emanates from, you are a irrational boob. Shape up.

      • I think part of the reason why newbs are seeing you as “right-wing” is because Obama’s the current incumbent, and (regardless of how good or bad his actual policy ideas are) has shown himself to be all too fallible as a human being in the course of trying to carry them out, thus inspiring all these posts criticizing him, given that presidential history is your thing. Dumbfucks, of course, will conclude that it’s solely because he’s a Democrat (or black, but those people don’t even deserve consideration), which is rich given that you like FDR and Truman.

        • That’s it exactly, Julian. Also as someone whose various conclusions about issues, once you average them out, place me squarely in the middle, I appear liberal to conservatives and conservative to liberals.More of my positions are favored by the rightish side of the spectrum, but that’s just how it shakes out, so far at least. I have no loyalty to any party or team.. .except the Boston Red Sox, of course.

    • Oh, you haven’t been here on those days when Jack pisses off seemingly the entire right-wing blogosphere when he calls out Republicans on their bullshit. Hell, he even just recently mocked Republicans for their OBS regarding Obama’s handshake with Castro 2.0. Someone who considers all Mark Sanford voters to be “Ethic Dunces” and thinks CEO pay is too high is probably not a raging wingnut.

      • Oh, and LBJ fought against communism overseas, but instituted the “Great Society” back home (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.), despite people with poor historical memories categorizing him more closely with, say, Joe McCarthy.

      • I think it’s a great thing to review. Jack’s commentary is fair and impartial and calls out unethical conduct in all facets of society: in the political realm he calls out both Right and Left.

        A very good read are the comments sections, it is interesting to read the reactions of those we’d assume would be defenders of the various items Jack has called out, and just how vociferous or knee jerk defenders get and likewise how introspective or accusative the would be defenders become when “their own” are called it.

        It’s a great survey.

  3. The entire concept of Santa (as the figure is used today) just reeks of unethical conduct.

    Some examples :


    Teaching your children that it is okay to lie — so long as it has a seemingly pleasant outcome.

    1. An example would be where child is losing “faith” in Santa — so the parent re-assures them that he DOES in fact exist — when he doesn’t.

    2. Government participation in the lying – In Canada, when you write a letter addressed to “North Pole” postal code “H0H 0H0” (ho ho ho), it is responded to by our government — which gives the child a tangible aspect to the “real” existence of Santa Claus, and thus assuring their “faith”


    1. Opening the door to greed – When “presents” are coming from a magical being who can fulfill all of your merchandise requirements, having the only request that you have been “good” or “nice” is misleading and is a burden on those who can not necessarily afford the child’s dreams. – which opens the door to ….


    1. A child who truly believes they have been “good” may not understand why a creature of magic did not fulfill their wishes (somethings nothing they thought of or asked for directly in a letter).

    2. The parent teaching the child about the ways of Santa may in turn feel their efforts unappreciated feeling the need to spend even more money “next year”, make up for missed presents during another event (such as birthday, etc), or have the desire to give up on the idea altogether.


    1. Most parents who partake in this celebration will not ever give their child “coal” no matter how “naughty” they were throughout the year, and thus the punishment/reward ratio is dramatically skewed. It is used as a psychological tool to subvert your child during a particular point in the year (primarily), and for those who are especially jovial use this tactical bomb throughout the rest of the year.


    1. Santa is defended like every other religion as a figure of great power — but unlike other religions — most “believers” know that this is a lie even when telling the tale.

    2. The figure is alleged to represent Christmas which Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ. This too is a lie, ( ) . The calendar used was not the gregorian/julian calendar at the time of His birth, and as such his birthday would be calculated in a similar fashion to the way Easter/Lent/Passover is calculated which converts the “old” calendar to our current base.

    There are numerous other aspects of this figure which have a more sinister teaching while being “playful”, such as the method of delivering presents that requires a break-and-enter (violation of the law in many countries), theft (although the cookies and milk were “left” for him, the means used to acquire them makes this illegal), the pagan requirement of deforestation of our pine trees (or the purchase of a non-recyclable replica) and dawn it with decorations while adorning some figure (star or angel) at the top, and many more ….

    Then outside of the figure and teachings, you can see what this tide brings out in people year after year — such as trampling — suicides — and so forth.

    And at the end of it — (yes a long stretch, but seems fitting) — Santa is a simple anagram for Satan — and we ALL know who he is — the teller of the greatest lies ….. hmmm

    • Buddy,looks to me like YOU believed in Santa for an unusally long time and just figured out that he is fictional. In which case your ramblings are, by a far stretch!, understable, which is, a polite way of saying, Get A Fucking Life…!!!
      Teaching kids ok to lie, when mum/dad talk about Santa? Ok to Lie? About,what?
      Santa,black/white/gray/brown,is a mascot with no religious significance whatsoever. And like every mascot,some think it’s cute,some say it’s ridiculous.
      Canadian govt participation, by replying to letters from kids addressed to North Pole letters,eh? I wonder what AMS has to say about this. Becuz it’s so astonishingly absurd. And I’m not talking about the govt that takes the trouble to make a kid happy, but the fact that you make it sound like a worldwide conspiracy…
      Burden/Greed to be good. Uh, ever heard of a concept called, oooh I dunno, MOTIVATION, asshole? And if right expectations are set, why would a kid be disappointed or angry? N tramplings are consumerism at it’s worst with no relation whatsover to Santa.
      Pagan requirement? Breaking/entering? Boy Oh Boy…We sure did forget to take our Prozac today, didn’t we? Just kidding…
      But then, dude, you articulate all that in your comment and end by saying ‘Santa’ could/would/might be an anagram of Satan?
      Now, was I really kidding? GO FIGURE..

    • Santa is minor. Frosty the snowman is a godless abomination, a snow golem brought to life by an artefact that, if the holiday special is believed, was stolen from an evil sorcerer. Unlike Rabbi Loew’s Golem of Prague, this crystalline beast wasn’t animated by the name of the One True God, but rather by pure arcane power.

      Not only that, but Santa’s lawbreaking is benign at best, as although he technically enters illegally it is to bring presents and do no damage. Frosty is a blatant scofflaw, disobeying the legal order of a traffic control officer- well, pausing a moment, but then continuing on his way. In addition to setting a poor example, as this unnatural creature strode toward the agent of the law he was doubtless fired upon, with bullets passing through to deal who knows what damage to innocent children following him in misguided wonder.

      Plus, although Santa once clutched the stump of a pipe, that has been wiped from most modern renderings. Frosty still proudly sports a corn cob pipe. And while Santa’s lumps of coal are apparently apocryphal, having never been delivered, Frosty’s insistence on using coal as a grotesque parody of eyes is an unconscionable use of fossil fuels.

      • Yes, but doesn’t Santa bring Frosty back to life? Thus, Frosty is not godless, he is in fact a lesser God with Santa being the primary deity. And indeed, Frosty’s construction, demise, and resurrection is all part of his master plan — sounds like the unholy trinity to me…..

        • That’s what they want you to think, but Santa mearly acts as the conduit by opening the greenhouse door, and as the harbinger by telling the children of his impending return. So-called “Christmas Magic” is what actually reanimates him, Santa is but his priest and prophet, as Nyarlathotep is to Shub-Niggurath or Father Dagon and Mother Hydra are to Cthulhu, with the greater known powers being yet another link up toward the Elder Gods of Christmas. Aaaaaand I’m a nerd.

          Of course, who would be the third link in the trinity? Rudolph? Jack Frost? For my money it’s Krampus, the inversion and synthesis of the Santa and Frosty tropes as he punishes where Santa rewards, while replicating the element in which children follow him as they do Frosty (if not voluntarily). Oh this is fun 😀

              • People from Michigan. Sweatshirts, new socks, new gloves, scarves. I’m staring out the window right now at the “gorgeous sparkles of white” steadily creating a winter hellscape. And Beth, if you like Arkham, we just got around to playing Eldritch Horror (similar concept, same company, but on a global scale and turns move quicker). That mother is HARD. Like, we left out two rules that would have hurt us (accidentally) and still only won on a last turn hail mary.

                • OMG — where were you when I was growing up in MI? You probably didn’t let any girls into your gaming group. We are playing Eldritch Horror for the first time tonight with a couple of friends. And they aren’t sweatshirts technically, they are hoodies. 🙂

                  • I don’t think I was born when you were growing up in MI, haha, I’m only 4 years out of college and I’ve gotten the impression that you’re a bit older than that (if I’m wrong, no offense meant). I didn’t have a gaming group until college, I got sucked in via a Blood Bowl league at the local comic shop. Prior to that it was 4 of us who played Magic cards sometimes. Good luck with Eldrich, don’t play against Cthulhu, and remember that the reformed cultist is the best character in the game (all monsters reset to horror 1, and you can auto-nuke any space with a cultist in it. Brilliant stuff).

                    • I told you ONE thing. I told you DON’T PLAY AGAINST CTHULHU. We missed the rules where 1) more tentacles keep showing up at sea, and 2) open gates move the doom track, and we STILL had to teleport someone with dynamite in on the last action of the last turn to kill Cthulhu’s daughter and win. Of course, Arkham used to feel just as hard.

                    • Yes, well my over-confident husband insisted that we try. We’ve played the RPG too, but RPGs are too hard once you’re married with kiddos unfortunately. Too much prep.

  4. IIRC, the mythical Santa is based on St. Nicholas, who was of Greek ancestry. Therefore, one would realistically estimate the “real” Santa to be a Caucasian with medium skin tone.

  5. With total disregard to the historical Jesus, there are worldwide examples of art showing him to be whatever race/culture the artist was, because the message supercedes the banal reality of skin color. Likewise, Santa should be someone the children see every day, who they relate to. I don’t mean that only black kids should see black santa and only white kids should see white santa, but that he should be a familiar and comforting figure- again, the message matters, not the physical detail.

  6. There is a TON of editorializing in this article. The author seems to insert their own bias and ignorance into the article. I mean really, he is attacking Aisha Harris for Megyn Kelly’s statements? No one even read the piece until Megyn brought it up in prime time.

    Its just typical right wing outreach. Attack the victim.

    • Stan, you’re an idiot. Sorry, but it’s true. I attacked Aisha Harris for being a dolt, and writing the dumb article—about penguins—without knowing what part of the Animal Kingdom penguins hail from. She is hardly a “victim.” Victim of what? Legitimate criticism of an ignorant essay? I did not in any way criticize her for Megyn Kelly’s statements.

      Did I mention that you’re an idiot, or at least play one on this blog? Of course there is “editorializing” here. Do you think this is the AP? Wait—they do editorialize there, though they shouldn’t. You have yet to actually make any substantive points. Last chance. The next time you just make a gratuitous accusation without anything legitimate or constructive to say, I’m exiling you to the spam file.

    • Man, you need to fucking get out of your intellectual straightjacket here. Here’s some brief tips for remembering that not every human being automatically falls into your preconceived categories of right vs. left; Woodrow Wilson reinstated segregation (and approved the reinstatement of the federal income tax), Ron Paul hates taxes (and is also against most US military interventions), Josef Stain instituted national healthcare (and criminalized homosexuality), Barry Goldwater disliked Social Security (but saved some of his harshest words for Jerry Falwell and the rest of the Religious Right), etc.

  7. Hey Jack,
    I just figured out that Santa is neither black nor white…
    He is, hold your breath, BLUE.
    Y’know, becuz of all the high altitude flying and sub-zero temperatures.

  8. I know, I exceeded the limits of a newcomer.
    My apologies to Alan Rage, to Jack. And to you. I got carried away by Rage’s comments.
    I’ll learn and earn my rights, I promise. Thank you for pointing it out to me.

  9. Something can be a silly non-issue and still be worth talking about as mental exercise.

    If you think this is silly, you should have seen the nerd rage when Marvel cast non-Nordic people as Norse gods.

    • I didn’t hate that decision, but I did think it was a little off. Santa is a modern international figure, so it’s perfectly appropriate for him to be multicultural. If you’re making a movie about Norse gods, they would have all been conceived of by the Norse people as Nordic. I’m not quite sure why they decided to change it. Changing Nick Fury, on the other hand, didn’t bother me at all- a black guy can be a badass government agent just as readily as a white guy, and Samuel L Jackson has the whole characterization nailed.

  10. While it might be amusing to analyze Santa traditions for sources and mechanics, adults who insist on doing that just need to take a chill pill. Santa is just an external model for giving for children, giving a gift without an expectation of a return. Parent gifts are expected and never as much fun as the mystery of what Santa brings. Adult exchanges are called ‘secret santas’ to try to evoke that feeling. The cycle continues when we play Santa to out children…

  11. An 11-year-old boy living in a shelter wrote this: “Dear Santa: I want an Xbox. I ask for it every year and I never get it. I guess I have been too bad.”,0,5227666.story#ixzz2nhKcSHMp

    That is why I detest the whole Santa Claus myth of punishing the poor and rewarding the rich. It may not have started out that way, but that’s what it has degenerated into.

    Literally millions of kids are being steeped in the belief that the reason they don’t get nice things is not because their family is poor, but because they’re not worthy enough.

    Literally thousands of kids are being inculcated with the idea that they get nice things because they deserve it, no matter how cruel and vicious they might have been.

    Fortunately most realise they’ve been conned about Santa’s existence eventually, and might even start asking questions. If lied to about that, what other lies were they told? So it might do more good than harm.

    It still seems terribly and un-necessarily cruel to me.

    I’m all for giving presents to kids, and if the rich get Barbie dolls with real diamond jewelry and the poor get paperclips, that’s just the breaks. But lets not pretend that that’s “fair” or “just”. That adds insult to injury.

      • Setting the right expectations is the key. Parents should use the idea of Santa as a motivational tool. Kids ‘be good’ and a reward ‘may’ be forthcoming.
        But it all backfires if not done right and we get ‘Why should I be good this year, when it brought me nothing last year?’ Or a kid gets a seemingly undeserved reward, even if he has been a brat all year round.
        Santa, is a myth. And kids today are, at least most if not all, competent enough to use their logic, reasoning and GOOGLE, to arrive at that same conclusion sooner rather than later. So who is deceiving whom?
        In my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with Santa.

        • I think the confluence of the benevolence / charity of Gift Giving and the moral lesson of being good is what is corrupting. It creates a false, you get stuff if you are good lesson. It’s a simple a quick lesson to teach, which is why we lazily do it. As opposed to taking the extra effort to teach the lessons separately.

          Giving gifts is a sign of charity and compassion and wishing to spread joy and happiness. These are values the community needs. Teaching it from the reverse angle, that Christmas is about receiving gifts, is where the flaws begin to manifest.

          The separate lesson, being good. Well, that shouldn’t be a Christmas only lesson, and I think its association with Christmas is a relatively new one thanks to culture. Either way, tying material reward with ‘being good’ is a sham. It teaches all the wrong reasons to be good and sets up horribly false expectations that can rot values. I think someone with a great singing voice once said “Be good, for goodness sake”.

          The two lessons are valuable, but I think tying the two together in a false relationship is where the lessons communicate skewed values.

    • I never believed in Santa but that’s rough too on kids when they go to class with believers. Our compromise is that we give our kiddos one gift from Santa and the rest come from mom and dad. I feel for this boy but isn’t 11 a little old to be believing in Santa? If he’s homeless, he cant use an Xbox. Hopefully someone has explained that to him.

    • Our parents filled our Christmas stockings from Santa (and maybe the occasional moderate gift under the tree, if it was too big for the sock). That was entirely small things- nail polish, body spray, candy bars, pens and pencils, etc. It was a given that Santa brought small Christmassy tokens, while the “main” presents were from Mom and Dad. A neat way of nipping in the bud the expectation that high-dollar gifts have a magical source.

  12. @Luke
    Of course Santa is in fact an anagram of Satan. But note the tone of Mr. Rage’s comments; he seems to be implying that, all his arguments, except the one about Satan, holds water, albeit adding ‘by a far-stretch but fittingly’. It’s like the Grinch himself joined the other side on the War on Christmas.

    • He’s either kidding (probably) or too insane to be worth ranting against. Any time someone uses numerology or alphamancy in an argument you know it’s one of those two things.

  13. Calvin and Hobbes have all the answers you seek regarding the Santa question. Simply Google “Santa+Calvin and Hobbes” and then click on Images. Here’s one to get you thinking…

  14. Huh. When I read the Harris article (my original source was the link here) I was pretty sure it was satire – poorly done. The Kelly debate with her guests also seemed like a humorous piece done in response to the satirical article by Harris. Of course, that all falls apart if the original article wasn’t viewed as satirical by Kelly.

  15. To kids both Santa and God are the same color they themselves are.

    That probably remains true for Santa as a concept even for adults. Our Santa is so far removed from the original St. Nicholas that claiming any similarity, even ethnic, is foolish.

    Jesus in His earthly form was Hebrew. He was not European. Biblical historians in general tend toward putting His skin color dark and swarthy, not only due to His ethnicity but also to His life spent in the blisteringly hot sun of the region in which He lived. If He walked among us today looking as He did then, I imagine He would be several shades darker than what Ms. Kelly would call white.

    And I imagine that our concept of Him, like that of Santa, differs so far from the original as to be almost unrecognizable.

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