Jesus Isn’t “White” but “Light”

Jesus is Light PicBy now we’ve all heard about and perhaps even participated in the debate sparked by FOX news correspondent Megyn Kelly that Santa Claus is white and Jesus is too. Edge member Leslie Smith’s post about this recent tug-of-war of identity claims demonstrated how such conversations are made possible by some highly inventive—even outrageous—ideas. This past week, another assertion that foregrounds the difficulty of taking such outrageous claims seriously posited something curious about what the public outrage reveals or uncovers and what steps we should take next.

Both sides of the debate ultimately rely upon the same tactics and mechanisms that assist Kelly in making such preposterous assertions possible in the first place, suggesting that as much as things have “changed in America,” they also stay the same. Continue reading “Jesus Isn’t “White” but “Light””

Santa, Jesus, and All Those Other White Guys: Why “Reality” is No Barrier to Identity

Santa and Jesus cartoon

If you haven’t already heard, the latest news from FOX news correspondent Megyn Kelly is that Santa Claus must be a white man.  Kelly’s remark was prompted by an article written by Slate journalist Aisha Harris, wherein Harris pointed out how Santa’s constant depiction as a white man is a particularly powerful and, to many children in particular, damaging example of white normativity.  After speaking to a group of panelists about various facets of the issue, Kelly reassured the children of America that Santa (and Jesus, too) are white.  How do we know these things?  One of Kelly’s panelists remarked that Santa is based on none other than St. Nicholas, a white,Greek bishop.  In a equally problematic characterization, Jesus’ whiteness was claimed as a self-evident fact of history. Continue reading “Santa, Jesus, and All Those Other White Guys: Why “Reality” is No Barrier to Identity”


Beck-brotherhood1The recent round of criticism of FOX News’s online interview of Reza Aslan has got me thinking a little more about this charge of Islamophobia that you often hear leveled by those on the political left — as in those who criticized any analysis of this episode that failed to out the FOX network (or other media personalities) as stirring the embers of hatred among some segments of the U.S. population of Muslims, either at home or abroad. While the bizarre questions posed to Aslan about not disclosing an identity that he in fact routinely discusses in the media — insinuating, it would seem, that some worldwide conspiracy would finally be evident if the American public knew that a Muslim author had written a book on Jesus?! — or the breath-taking conspiracy theories of some commentators on the political right (such as Glenn Beck, in action above) are quite troubling to me in a number of ways, I’m not so sure about this label of Islamophobia.  Continue reading “Islamophobia”

Are You Buying It?

Picture 11In the post-game commentary about how terribly author Reza Aslan was treated in that online FOX News interview, in the rush by scholars of religion on Facebook to identify with a misunderstood scholar just trying to do his job, and in the backlash now coming out against the way that he authorized himself by trotting out his degrees, one thing seems to be lost: this was a great moment for global capitalism. After all, a book tour (not the thing most scholars ever set out upon, by the way) is designed to do nothing else but sell, and so the interview was just one more moment in a marketing plan. I’m not criticizing it, since many of us have books we hope to sell, but suggesting that we’ve missed the point if we fail to remember that publicity is all both sides in that dance are going for (either to sell more ads on TV or the web or more books on Continue reading “Are You Buying It?”