We tell children to plug their ears if we think someone is about to say Santa doesn't exist. In that spirit, perhaps Megyn Kelly should stop reading right now. Why? Because Times readers really, really like the idea of a black Santa Claus.
As we all know by now, the Fox News host bizarrely asserted last week the indisputable fact that Santa Claus and Jesus were both white, modern representations notwithstanding. On Saturday, The Times published a front-page photo of Langston Patterson dressed as Santa Claus with a beaming child posing for a photo on his lap. The story with the photo -- about Patterson's Christmastime gig as a "rare black Santa Claus in a sea of white ones" -- didn't mention Kelly, but many readers drew their own connection.
Mark O'Connell of Irvine recalls the Irish Santas of his youth:
"In the interest of full disclosure, let me state that I don't get my news from Fox and I am a card-carrying atheist.
"When I saw The Times' article about a black Santa in L.A., I had to smile at the thought of the reaction of the Fox News brain trust. Host Kelly declared on her show that Santa and Jesus were both white.
"Being of Irish heritage, I know there are already Irish Santas because I remember as a kid smelling the booze on Santa's breath when I sat on his lap at the mall.
"Let's celebrate Christmas for what it really is: a commercial invention that helps our economy by forcing people to buy stuff that is mostly not necessary."
June Maguire of Mission Viejo says Santa and Jesus are whatever we want them to be:
"Kelly's TV pronouncement that both Santa and Jesus were white, contrasted with the photo of Patterson dressed as Santa on The Times' front page, should remind at least a few thoughtful people that both these figures have become just about whatever we want them to be.
"Like many respected historical figures, they serve to fulfill our imaginations, our hopes and our personal needs. Unfortunately, they can also be exploited to justify the belief systems and political agendas, however varied, of just about anyone -- or any group -- in today's complex world."
Canoga Park resident Michael Solomon says Patterson alone is proof that Kelly was wrong:
"What better way to refute the notion that Santa is white than to do a story about a Santa who isn't?
"No discussion, no argument, no reference to the odious and fatuous comments on Fox News; simply a story that reminds us Santa is universal and provides proof that Santa's color is in the eye of the beholder."
Santa Monica resident Jack Epps says the photo settles any dispute:
"Thank you for making my Saturday morning, when I opened my paper and was greeted by two smiling faces having their picture taken.
"I'm glad the Fox News controversy has been cleared up. The photo is living proof that Santa is also black. I'm sure if we look hard enough, we will see that Santa is also Latino, Asian and of Indian descent. Santa is a citizen of the world.
"Smile on, Santa."
Linda Linham of Los Angeles says race isn't the point:
"The picture accompanying this article struck me immediately as I picked up my paper. 'How festive!,' I thought.
"This picture is almost Rockwellian in the way the little boy's body language and smile convey every child's barely contained mix of joy, awe and just a hint of nervousness.
"If the first thing someone sees when looking at this picture is skin color, then his eyes may be working, but I wonder about his heart and soul."
Sherman Oaks resident David Paulsen says The Times' photo represents something important:
"A black Santa Claus and an enthralled black boy on the front page of Saturday's L.A. Times? Wow! Never did this white-bearded Jew from around the Mason-Dixon Line think he would live to see it.
"Is the photo of the happy black Santa a token? Some might say so. I'd call it a salute to all who have fought for so many long, brutally troubled years to help make America whole.
"Applause to The Times for printing it."