White Is the Default Skin Color

Ann Althouse, feather-weighting in on the hysteria generated at Faux News by Aisha Harris’s Slate piece about Santa Claus being depicted as a white man (bolds mine):

Merritt informs us that Jesus, being a first-century Jew, probably had dark skin. Jews are not white? One ceases to be white if one’s skin is sufficiently dark? It may be silly to use the term “white” to label people by race, but white is a big category, and it includes a pretty broad spectrum of skin colors, such as, for example, the “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman. Maybe we should call Jesus a “white Semitic” to heighten the awareness of the subcategories of whiteness. Is that what Jonathan Merritt requires to avoid falling into “serious error”? Megyn Kelly was arguing for less racialism, and Merritt is arguing for more.

“Merritt informs us” refers to an article at The Atlantic today by Jonathan Merritt, taking Fox’s Megyn Kelly to task for “bad history and bad theology“:

Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men.

“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “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?”

Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men.”Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “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?”

Setting aside the ridiculousness of creating rigidly racial depictions of a fictitious character that does not actually exist—sorry, kids—like Santa, Kelly has made a more serious error about Jesus. The scholarly consensus is actually that Jesus was, like most first-century Jews, probably a dark-skinned man. If he were taking the red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York today, Jesus might be profiled for additional security screening by TSA.

Harris’s original article is here, and a follow-up, published today, is here.

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1 Comment

Filed under Media, Society

One response to “White Is the Default Skin Color

  1. After watching the world, I have concluded that I am ‘mixed race’ and probably mixed species. Homo Sapien and neanderthal.

    And, Kathy, I am not just saying this to pull your leg. I AM serious.

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