What Megyn Kelly and jihadists have in common

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone. For those hoping to see progress toward human rights, justice and democracy in the Arab world in 2013, it's been a tough, bloody slog of a year. May the next one be easier on the region's civilians in so many ways.

Given the season, I wanted to flag a clever essay by my colleague Alia Malek, who took up the risible "white Jesus" claim made by Fox News' Megyn Kelly and dove into its serious and problematic implication: the erasure of Arab Christianity from both Western and Eastern popular histories:

By no means is Kelly’s apparent discomfort with acknowledging the Middle Eastern roots of Christianity the exclusive preserve of conservatives in America; it is shared by many Muslim radicals and not so radicals who proclaim themselves jihadists. Christianity’s origins — and the Arab Christians who still populate the region — are inconvenient to a narrative that places Christianity and its adherents in the West rather than the East.

Alia includes some fascinating history from the early-20th-century United States, when Syrians fighting immigration court rulings about their "whiteness" argued that their shared ethnic descent with the people of the Holy Land meant that the courts might as well be turning away Jesus himself. American judges didn't like the sound of that then, either.