Over at Catholic Vote, they’re responding to the inevitable Atlantic “look at me!” inflammatory article; this one is “Your Christmas Nativity Scene is a Lie.”
He finally does come to something that is admittedly an inaccuracy, and here we seem to arrive at what really concerns him. He notes that most American nativity scenes depict the Holy Family as white, although they certainly were not Europeans.
Merritt has a point here: a depiction of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as European-looking is certainly factually wrong. I think, however, that he makes this into more of a problem than it really is. He fears that such depictions reinforce racism by suggesting that lightness is associated with what is good and darkness with what is bad.
The point was to depict Jesus as a human being, and the artist defaulted to depicting him as the kind of human being with which the artist was most familiar.
If it’s good enough for Mary, it’s probably good enough for the whole family– just last night I was taking pictures of some of the depictions of apparitions on display at the local Catholic school. Pretty sure that a first-century Middle Eastern Jew didn’t look Vietnamese, either.
The problem only comes up if the change is made to make a bad point– I have heard of artists that change Jesus specifically to ‘claim’ Him, as opposed to the idea that He is claiming us.