If there’s a way to tarnish a Christmas tradition, the holiday buzz kills at MSNBC are sure to find it.
The dubious honor this time goes to Hayes Brown, who proclaimed that it’s time to abolish the decades-long custom of kids tracking Santa’s flight around the globe on Christmas Eve.
As background for the unfamiliar, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) began tracking Santa’s annual trek in 1955, when “a young child, trying to reach Santa, dialed the misprinted phone number from a department store ad in the local newspaper. Instead of calling Santa, the child called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.”
Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night who answered the child’s phone call, was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. After more incoming calls, Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls and a tradition was born, that continued when NORAD was formed in 1958.
Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the world. Because of the support, services and resources generously provided by volunteers and our government and corporate contributors, NORAD Tracks Santa has persevered for more than 65 years.
Relate the story around any Christmas gathering of family and friends and it’s almost certain to draw smiles and good cheer.
Unless Hayes Brown is lurking in the shadows, ready to sprinkle spoiled garlic in the eggnog and break a few ornaments. Brown said it’s time to kill the Santa-tracking tradition.
“I’d prefer we end the tradition because it’s about time that we decoupled St. Nick from the world’s most powerful military.” Brown wrote. “American culture is saturated with a desire to associate the military with the saccharine.”
Brown continued, “The messier business of war that goes on in the background doesn’t jibe with the Christmas spirit.”
“Last week, The New York Times published a two-part investigation into the civilian casualties of American airstrikes,” Brown wrote. “America’s increased reliance on aerial campaigns helps military officials avoid the political headaches that come from massive ground deployments, but that strategy contributes to the profound disconnect between the American public and the wars fought in its name.”
There’s no arguing that war is an ugly and deadly business, and the NORAD system is part and parcel of that business. But leave it to the twisted mind of a gloom-peddler like Brown, who insisted he’s not “a Scrooge or some kind of anti-Santa advocate prone to humbuggery,” to lump Santa, Christmas and kids together with the atrocities of war and the military’s necessary involvement.
It takes a Grinch at heart to make that stretch.