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MUHAMMAD: Racism Rears its Ugly Beard

Askia Muhammad | 12/23/2013, 3 p.m.
In today’s politically correct world, even Santa has been drawn into the race-war-of-words, right along with the extra-long-bearded Phil Robertson.
Askia Muhammad

There are certain images projected by White males which make me uncomfortable. Confederate flags and gun racks in pick-up truck rear windows are a no-brainer. Heavy boots, black leather jackets, and Harley-Davidson motorcycle paraphernalia also set off alarms for me, as do bloodcurdling tattoos of skulls-and-crossbones and similar death wishes/threats. And don’t forget, folks (White-Black, male and female) wearing camouflage outfits in the city. But that’s just me…

Another don’t-turn-my-back-to-this-White-guy-image is a long beard. I confess some ambivalence about the White-guys-with-beards thing, after all I grew up when the bearded Smith Brothers adorned the boxes of cherry-flavored cough drops which were so tasty my friends and I would consume them as candy, even when we didn’t have a cough to treat. And let’s not forget, the friendliest bearded White man of all time, Santa Claus.

But in today’s politically correct world, even Santa has been drawn into the race-war-of-words, right along with the extra-long-bearded Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Dynasty-dynasty from the backwoods bayous of Louisiana.

That anyone would argue with the racial identity of a non-existent person is silly on the “face” of it. Sorry, Virginia, there is no real Santa Claus, except in the imagination of children throughout the Christian world.

So when Aisha Harris wrote an article for Slate.com suggesting that St. Nick be depicted as a penguin rather than as a White man, leave it to the defenders-of-all-things-Caucasian at the Faux (Fox) News Channel to circle the wagons and declare that the mythical character exists, and that now and forevermore he is to be seen as a White dude.

Presumably intelligent folks lined up to take exception and to argue for and against the racial identity of an imaginary man, who simultaneously visits all the houses in the world in a sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer, entering the homes via a chimney (whether the home or apartment has a chimney or not), whereupon he leaves free gifts for all the “nice” children on his list. Whew! What a guy.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) which normally follows potentially hostile (and friendly) real-world missiles approaching the U.S. homeland, even “tracks” Santa’s progress via radar from the North Pole to “Little Timmy’s neighborhood” every Christmas Eve. Their website depicts Santa and his sleigh in the night sky accompanied by two fighter jets. Talk about government “overkill…” and since 1955 when that practice began after a mistaken phone number was printed in a Sears ad, NORAD has yet to confirm Santa’s imaginary racial identity.

But Faux News insists that Santa Claus “just is White,” and that “Jesus was a White man too.”

Now Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson was nine years old in the summer of 1955, in the pre-civil rights movement days when he says Black folks were all “singing and happy.” He told GQ magazine that: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any Black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The Blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the Blacks, because we’re White trash.” (“White trash” worth at least $400 million in merchandising deals, and the stars of the most popular non-fiction TV reality show ever broadcast. But who’s counting?)