Fox News' Megyn Kelly, usually one of the saner voices on the network, responded on her show Wednesday night to a Slate piece questioning why Santa Claus had to be a white man. “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” Kelly said on the broadcast.
And with that, America had yet another astonishingly stupid culture war battle on its hands: Yes, we were debating the ethnic background of a fictional character.
Kelly quickly added to the hoopla by announcing that "Jesus was a white man, too." Perhaps one of those famous Nazareth blondes?
In fact, people had been depicting non-white versions of both Jesus and Santa well before Fox was beating back both the war on Christmas and the war on white Santas. The legend of the white-bearded, red-suited Santa Claus is based on a historical figure, St. Nicholas, a Greek Bishop from Myra, a city on the Mediterranean Sea now part of modern-day Turkey. As for Jesus, little is known about his actual appearance, though historians—and maybe anyone else who has spent time in the holy land—have hypothesized that he had olive skin and shorter hair.
Of course, as Christianity extended to all corners of the world, people saw Jesus as an extension of their own religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions. So he was white in most Western depictions, and less so in many others. Here are some pictures of Jesus and St. Nick that Megyn Kelly may not have seen.