Fox News TV talk show hosts seem to have a penchant for demonstrating their expertise on race-related issues to their viewers. Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck (when he was with them) are usually quick to pontificate about “racial incidents” mainly to defend against any allegations of racism or to dismiss any such allegations. Recently, Megyn Kelly joined her colleagues in doing this.
In an attempt to rebut a story in Slate Magazine by Aisha Harris about how depictions of Santa as a white man hurt children of other races, Ms. Kelly responded on her Fox News TV show that Santa Claus and Jesus are white. Apparently, some viewers did not like Ms. Kelly’s rebuttal and mocked her. A few days later on her show, she said that her comments were in the spirit of humor, like Alisha Harris’ comments, and that humor is a part of what she brings to her show, but sometimes that is lost on the humorless.
In a society obsessed with race, comments like those made by Aisha Harris and by Megyn Kelly only create more controversy and in the end offer nothing positive. As a non-white person myself, I understand what Aisha Harris concern is – nonwhite children cannot identify with a white Santa. The reality though, is that Santa Claus will be around for eternity and will be depicted as a white character. There is not much that non-white people can do that about this. If parents of non-white children feel the need to explain Santa Claus to their children then they should tell them that Santa Claus is a mythical character that is played by a real person-similar to how actors play other characters.
As for Megyn Kelly’s attempt to rebut Aisha Harris’ concern, it was unfortunate because her comments only served to add ridicule and to titillate her viewers. There is no doubt that the TV media will squeeze every bit of news out of a race-related story. Race is a national obsession and the TV media knows that this obsession with race gets attention whenever they cover or address a race-related issue. It would be ok if they cover race-related problems objectively, instead of orienting their coverage towards defending against an accusation of racism or dismissing the accusation (e.g., saying that those who make the accusation are using the race card).
By defending against accusations of racism or dismissing such accusations the TV media (Fox News TV especially) should become more responsible and more objective in the manner in which they address racial matters. Instead of defending against accusations of racism or dismissing it, they should try to understand the nature of the accusations. If they try to do this then it might help them to be more careful in providing genuine, responsible, and objective comments on racial matters instead of trying to create more controversy and polarize viewers. Making insensitive racial comments or jokes like Megyn Kelly did on her Fox TV talk show, then defend them by saying it was a joke, it was a parody, or the other side does it too is not helpful in addressing racial matters or improving race relations.
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