Megan Kelly is dreaming of a white Christmas.
The Fox News star has stepped into a holiday hornet’s nest by insisting on her show that both Jesus and Santa Claus were white — and that anybody who believes otherwise needs to get over it.
“For you kids watching at home,” Kelly said during her prime-time show on Wednesday, “Santa just is white. But this person is arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa.”
Then Kelly, a Fox franchise player, dug herself in further by saying that Santa couldn’t be anything but Caucasian because he’s like Jesus.
“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man, too.”
Kelly was reacting to a Slate.com piece by Aisha Harris, who had made the case that maybe, as the U.S. becomes more diverse, it was time to “ditch Santa the old white man altogether, and embrace Penguin Claus.”
“People love penguins,” Harris wrote.
There was no immediate response from Kelly to the uproar, but a Fox News spokeswoman said she would address the controversy in the coming days.
While it is true that both Jesus and Santa Claus have been depicted by European painters as white for centuries, many scholars say the historical figures probably weren’t the kind of white that would have passed muster with a segregated 1950s golf club.
Jesus was a Jew born in Bethlehem, a Semitic town in what is now the West Bank.
And the New Testament does not describe his appearance.
The historical St. Nicholas is believed to have been a Greek bishop living in what’s now Turkey, two countries where fair-skinned blondes like Kelly aren’t as common as they are in, say, Sweden.
The jolly, red-cheeked figure we’ve come to know as Santa Claus appears to be a melding of the Father Christmas figure from England and the Dutch Sinterklaas.
Sinterklaas’ sidekick, however, is Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, a figure some complain is a relic from Holland’s racist past that should be retired.