NOTE: This belated entry, though posted on April 30, 2014, describes the Christmas Debate, held on December 5, 2013 in Riggs Library.
The Society gathered for the fifteenth and final time this semester to consider Resolved: Santa Claus is Red. Making his induction, Mr. Alejandro Perez-Reyes (COL ’17) of Virginia keynoted for the affirmation alongside Mr. Taylor Willis (SFS ’16) of Texas. Also making his induction, Mr. Alden Fletcher (SFS ’17) of Vermont spoke with Ms. Laura Kurek (SFS ’16) of Illinois on the negation.
Mr. Perez-Reyes stirred up a Red Scare in the Society, deeming Santa even redder than Obama. He warned of two nefarious traits shared by Santa and the Soviets. First, Mr. Claus maintains a large scale surveillance network that disregards civil liberties and allows for the seizure of crucial goods like cookies and milk. Second, Santa cultivates a Stalin-esque cult of personality through his evil “brand recognition”.
Mr. Fletcher declared that Santa is only Red insofar as he is the hearty red blood of American capitalism. Far from ruling some police state, Santa is simply the CEO of the most successful global competitor in the market for holiday cheer. Santa’s economic contributions benefit us as his invisible hand of the Christmas market reaches down the chimney.
Mr. Willis sang most of the International before declaring that “For too long, the children of the world have suffered under the yolk of their capitalist oppressors”. He insisted that the proletariat must look beyond the wrapping paper to find the courage to fight back. Onward to Revolution!
Ms. Kurek assailed Mr. Willis’s un-American tendencies, urging the Society to focus on the cold, (even frozen) economic facts that support the negation. While communist countries strive for self-sufficiency, Santa maintains a network of trade to sell the North Pole’s sand, gravel, oil, and gas on a global level – hardly the hallmark of a Red.
At a loss for words, Ms. Madeleine Ringwald could only express herself through song. Ms. Kurek joined her in a rousing rendition of “Santa Baby” that praised Mr. Claus for his embrace of Marxist Revolution. Ms. Abigail Grace thought that was all well and good, but questioned how Santa could be a real communist when so many children get unequal presents. Mr. Joshua Weiner suggested that this could be chalked up to the unfortunate production value of the elves, who are not able to produce as much as they could if they weren’t burdened by inefficient socialism.
Mr. Patrick Musgrave insisted that Santa Claus is green, not because the North Pole has divested from fossil fuels, but because of the commercialization that he allows in the Christmas marketplace. Inflammatory as ever, Mr. Daniel Graff brought up Nazis. Since Jews never get presents from Santa, he must be a National Socialist!
Vice President Patrick Spagnuolo disagreed, calling Santa the embodiment of the American frontiersman who tames a rugged, inhospitable land. He maintained that by building a transcontinental reindeer railroad and lifting up the defeated elves, Santa shows his capitalist ingenuity, but Ms. Julia Christensen argued that Santa’s failure to trademark his brand demonstrates a complete disregard for normal capitalist behavior.
Mr. Warren Wilson recounted an old tale of a philosopher named Marx, who said “bah humbug” to Hagel, the bourgeoisie, and capitalism. But one night Hagel’s ghost scared Marx into righteousness. His beard turned white and he donned the coat of a property-owning bourgeois man, proud knowing that the Spirit of Christmas is immaterial.
Mr. Gregory Miller warned that Santa represents a bigger threat to capitalism than NORAD while Ms. Colleen Wood reminded the Society that Russians don’t even receive gifts for Christmas because they believe in the cold and dour Father Ice, who gives no presents. Mr. Jacob Arber backed up Ms. Wood with real evidence, since his parents brought him gifts in the guise of Father Ice and his Snow Princess, but he still argued that anyone using slave labor is Red.
Mr. Luke Schafer (COL ’16) called Rudolph the poster child of American exceptionalism.
Ms. Isobel Blakeway-Phillips (COL ’16) asserted that Santa acts Red since he gives you what he thinks you need, not the train set that you really want. Mr. Matthew Harden (SFS ’17) disclosed that he did receive a train set from Santa. The set was covered in lead paint, a sure sign of laissez-faire capitalism. Re-framing this negligence, Ms. Rosa Cuppari (SFS ’17) criticized Santa for promoting the suppression of the proletariat elves in a polarized class system
Ms. Emily Coccia deemed Santa’s offshore operations a sure sign of capitalism, but Mr. Michael Whelan insisted that Santa’s reliance on the dirty coal and steel industries to produce lead-laced toys sounded a lot more like Red China than free commerce. Ms. Heather Regen refocused on Mrs. Claus, who really runs the show while Santa is busy with his reindeer. “Feminism is communism”. Mr. Christopher DiMisa called Santa Claus the only true socialist, for his workers are all paid the same wage of nothing.
Chancellor Nicholas Iacono rightly eschewed the debate to reflect on his time in Philodemic and remind us that lofty and noble aims don’t guarantee lofty and noble institutions. It requires work and dedication to preserve the Society.
Ms. Amanda Wynter wondered whether Santa identifies as Red before seconding Chancellor Iacono’s speech and thanking President Prindiville for his year of service. Mr. Jesse Whitfield claimed that Santa is actually an imperialist, only rewarding the good, Christian children in London. Mr. Mac Dineen told a childhood tale of how his father bought him the wrong Godzilla, and was forced back to WalMart to get the right Godzilla.
Wistfully taking his prerogative for the last time, President Peter Prindiville told us how proud he was to see the Society so strong and urged us all to keep our beautiful motto dear: Eloquentiam Libertati Devinctam.
When the debate returned to the keynoters, Ms. Kurek defended Santa’s capitalist creation of profit and joy while Mr. Willis forwent his prepared remarks on Soviet Time Machines to tell us how glad he is to have friends like us. We love you too Taylor!
Wishing everyone the Merriest of Christmases, Mr. Fletcher thanked his mentor (You’re the best Fletch!) and the Philodemic for welcoming him into the Society. He praised the dazzling magic of Santa Claus and decried the affirmation for trying to take that away. As the least senior member to speak, Mr. Perez-Reyes echoed the sentiments of the most, echoing Chancellor Iacono’s view that tradition cannot be inherited but must be obtained through great labor. Ending there, he declared that “With that I think I’ll shuffle off the stage.”
The room split 24-1-24, leading to an always-irksome technical negation.
Finally, and most merrily, we inducted Mr. Alejandro Perez-Reyes and my own mentee, Mr. Alden Fletcher. They are the first Philodemecians in the Class of 2017. Huzzah!
Michael Whelan, from Madeleine Ringwald’s notes.