Thanksgiving and Columbus Day are celebrations of genocide. The Fourth of July is a reminder that America was founded by rich white men who didn’t want to pay taxes. Memorial Day is perfect for anti-war statements and Mother’s Day is for denouncing the heteronormative family. Valentine’s Day is an occasion to protest rape and the patriarchy and Halloween is a time to lecture students about cultural appropriation and politically incorrect costumes that offend minorities.
The optimist would hope that the left would take a month or two off toward the end of the year. But every Chanukah brings with it articles about how the holiday is really a nationalistic campaign against multiculturalism and no Christmas would be complete without a national conversation about Santa’s whiteness.
Over at Slate, Aisha Harris, its resident expert on being offended by racist things in pop culture, suggested replacing old white Santa with a penguin of no specific color. Replacing Santa with a beady-eyed penguin would remove the need to have Santas of every race, color and creed, not to mention gender identity and sexual orientation.
It’s easier than finding a Maori transgender gay Santa in a wheelchair to really terrify the kids.
The penguin solution won’t work for all holidays. Replacing Jesus with a penguin will raise all sorts of theological issues and turning George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King into penguins will add a whole new twist to history.
But if we’re going to “penguinify” our way out of every holiday to avoid excluding anyone… we might as well start breaking out the penguin masks.
What is the charge against Santa? He’s a white male. He’s not a member of some KKK lodge in the North Pole and doesn’t burn frozen crosses on tundra. It is his whiteness that is offensive.
As Aisha Harris tells it, she grew up feeling hurt and ashamed because her father dressing up as Santa didn’t match the white store Santas. And so her solution is to eliminate fathers being able to dress up as Santas at all; unless they shrink to a few inches tall and learn to squawk.
In Aisha’s world, everyone has to be part of one big whole without excluding anyone in any way. There is nothing diverse about a diversity that collectivizes the experience of every individual to ensure mass conformity even in the industrialization of celebration.
It’s not diversity. It’s conformity.
That’s the trouble with endless inclusiveness. To include everyone in a holiday, you have to erode its meaning so thoroughly that it no longer means anything. The only way to achieve total inclusiveness is to eliminate as much specificity as possible until the very existence of a specific identity becomes a crime.
This isn’t really about Santa. It’s about the criminalization of whiteness under the label of White Privilege. It’s about making race into an implicit offense by arguing that any norm that reflects whiteness in a country with a white majority is racist.
The best evidence that we have long ago left behind actual discrimination that can be objectively shown is the descent of civil rights efforts first into outcome-based discrimination in which there need not be any intent to discriminate as long as there is an outcome unfavorable to an official minority and then into the emotional experience of otherness entirely apart from any actual acts.
Aisha Harris’s call for the penguinization of Santa is backed only by her temporary sense of alienation as a little girl. There isn’t even a complaint that black men are less likely to be hired as store Santas or that black children who aren’t exposed to black Santas have lower test scores. And all that is left is the original doll experiment in which the Clarks proved the psychological effects of racism to the Supreme Court by showing that black children chose white dolls over black dolls. Despite everything, the doll experiment hasn’t changed.
The penguinization of Santa is one of the nicer progressive responses to these lingering self-esteem issues. The nastier ones counter negative perception of blackness by pushing negative perception of whiteness. The lead practitioners of white racism have become white liberals who hope that hating and degrading white people will improve black self-esteem.
In this warped world, the only way to save black self-esteem is by attacking any area where “white” is normative. Even if it’s a white Santa Claus. If black people feel self-conscious of their differences, then white people must be constantly made to feel self-conscious of the guilt they ought to feel in making everyone else feel self-conscious with their normative supremacism.
Whiteness isn’t the problem. The obsession with race is. The left has turned a social construct into the definitive lens for viewing all human relationships. And it’s that lens that causes the misery. The more you look through it, the more bitter and insecure you become.
Santa isn’t guilty of white privilege. The racialists are guilty of an obsessive resentment that expresses itself in the need to contest everything on racial grounds. Changing Santa’s race or species won’t fix anything because that isn’t the source of the problem. Any number of white characters, from Spider-Man to Kojak, Ironside and even Murder She Wrote’s Jessica Fletcher, have been turned black without making a dent.
Insecurity isn’t external. It’s internal. And it can’t be fixed externally. The insecure can’t be reassured into being comfortable with the world around them. Every well-meaning act of reassurance is met with a defensive reaction that is meant to reassert their neurotic status quo because that unpleasant state is the one that they know and are familiar with. It may not be a pleasant way to live, but it’s their identity and it’s all that they know how to do.
Racial insecurity is an internal problem. It isn’t caused by Santa. It’s caused by a racialized identity which thrives on paranoia and insecurity while lashing out at black figures who aren’t insecure, like Robert Griffin III or Don Lemon, for the crime of being comfortable.
America isn’t a racist country. It’s a racially insecure country where the races are taught to be self-conscious and insecure. Out of that insanity, transforming Santa Claus into a penguin begins to seem like a sensible solution. And until the day when America becomes a white minority nation, maybe we can all don our penguin masks and celebrate the arrival of a post-racial society in which we will no longer be black or white, but instead black and white all over.
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