In the early 1960s, when I was a child and still believed in tenets of conservatism, local TV, over the course of the evening on December 24, each year would report that weather radar had picked up an object in flight from the North Pole. The bit was humorous. Kids had the notion Santa Claus was real and with modern technology even could be tracked. Each year since various stations have carried similar coverage. Actually NORAD, the government's nuclear radar system, was the source of the radar, begun in 1955. I have not kept personal track of the matter. I know Santa Claus is fiction, although, according to the staffers who research for John Stewart, the real person from whom the character is derived was from southern Turkey and, in all likelihood, a dark-skinned person.
This year, someone at NORAD decided to add a "twist" to Santa's trip. He now will be accompanied by fighter jets. One Navy captain---the equivalent of a colonel in the Army, Air Force or Marines---was quoted as saying, with the addition of the fighters, NORAD wanted to give a "tactical feel" to the tracking.
First, why, during "this time of peace," did anyone think an added element of fighter jets alongside Santa's sleigh was necessary? Santa can haul enough presents in his sleigh for all of the kids in the upper-middle-class and upper-class homes in the Western world. Santa can enter homes through keyholes, slide down chimneys and cast magic on reindeer such that they can fly all over the planet without stop---although the ASPCA should be alerted to this. Santa hardly needs a fighter escort.
Second, for whom is the mind-set of "more of a tactical feel" directed? I would think---probably---the children who take time away from computer games in which shooting and killing are simulated to catch what Mom and Dad are watching in the living room. This is one more means by which children can be acculturated to an ongoing war. I suppose the Spartans would have had analogous coverage for a parallel character in their culture, had they possessed the technology.
Finally, from whom is Santa to be protected? He flies over Toronto where, one can understand, there would be concerns about Mayor Rob Ford. But where else does Santa need protection? There are cities with high crime rates, but there always have been cities with high crime rates. Are the liberal media about to carry out their mythical "war on [insert the name of holiday]" with an attack on a fictional character with some sort of animated figure?
The insertion of war and fear into one more aspect of the holiday season is wrong. The fighter planes, at evening's start, should land and wish the jolly fellow a safe evening and a safe flight. He probably will be flatulent after one bite from so many cookies left out on the mantles of all those upper-middle-class and upper-class homes. Of course, the former are far fewer in number since the Reagan years, and the latter employ grade-A chefs to make the cookies.
Besides, I've watched the movies. Santa Claus beat the Devil and an attempted invasion by Martians. He hardly needs the help of military personnel or materiel.
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