Fox News' "War on Christmas" reached new heights of balderdash when Megyn Kelly assured viewers that Father Christmas is absolutely, positively white.
Kelly's comment came during a roundtable discussion over Slate.com culture blogger Alisha Harris's recent post "Santa Claus should not be a White Man Anymore." Harris writes that when she was a child, her father told her that Santa magically adopted the likeness of whatever family he visited. However, the Santa she saw in public was always a jolly, pink-faced, white bearded man, a dichotomy that left her bewildered. She concludes, humorously, that America should drop Santa-as-a-fat-old-white-man, and make the penguin a new symbol of Christmas cheer.
Now, turning Santa into a penguin might not be realistic. Penguins poop a lot and would leave a quite a mess in the chimney. But if we were to give Mumble from "Happy Feet" Santa's job, cleaning up his guano could create a lot of minimum wage jobs for all the lazy chimney sweepers and cleaning ladies currently on unemployment.
Kelly simply misinterpreted Harris's argument. The column isn't about shattering Kris Kringle's legacy. It's about finding ways to help people of different races and ethnicities better connect to the Christmas spirit.
Republicans are no strangers to demographic targeting. Psychologically, people are more likely to accept someone when that person is of the same ethnic or racial background. The GOP's 2012 presidential candidates recognize this. Marco Rubio introduced Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention to appeal to Hispanic voters, and Herman Cain made frequent references to his race when he called on blacks to divorce the Democratic Party.
Perhaps Fox News is colluding with The Onion to play a big joke on us this holiday season, but this silly talk has to go. It reinforces every stereotype holding the Republican Party back from repositioning itself as a national party.
Megyn Kelly's rhetoric isn't the only example. Just in the past week, Michigan National GOP committeemen argued that gays want free health care because they're all dying of AIDS, the National Republican Congressional Committee began selling "I'm Not Afraid of Saying Merry Christmas" t-shirts and birthers saw a conspiracy in the death of Hawaiian State Health Director Loretta Fuddy. (She was the official who released the president's long-form birth certificate in 2011.)
If Republicans want to be seen as compassionate and caring, the party needs to distance itself from these errant, socially awkward big mouths, once and for all. Otherwise, a lot of conservatives are going to be crying Christmas morning when Santa leaves a big bucket of coal or penguin poop, depending on who shows up, under their trees.
Corrected on 12/19/13: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled Megyn Kelly's name.