Scrooged: The ‘War on Good Cheer’ Targets NORAD’s Beloved Santa Tracker Tradition

NORAD’s Santa Tracker: Fanciful ‘Fighter Jet Escort’ for Santa Under Fire from Child Psychologists and Public Health Experts?

NORAD’s Santa Tracker is a volunteer effort since 1955, a cherished baby boomer-era Christmas tradition right up there with watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

 (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

(OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

It was only a matter of time before some humorless finger-wagging scolds indulged their paranoia and accused the government of sponsoring a harmful military-industrial brainwashing campaign against children (to induce them into military service later in life?) and succeeded in getting the media to pay attention.

I think we should celebrate when these imaginary grievances make national news. It reveals how silly the academics, psychologists, and culture warriors can get. When allowed to walk outside of their University offices and talk to members of the press, without supervision, they unintentionally provide us with comedy gold.

Unknown-1One of the advocates of this campaignAmy Hagopian, a professor of public health at the University of Washington, should be fired given a toy airplane, a basket of candy canes, some cupcakes, and a yo yo. Then taken on a trip to the zoo, then taken out for an ice cream, and read a bedtime story. She deserves a happy childhood, but perhaps didn’t get one. I propose that we bury her in love, kindness, and holiday cheer, ’cause she needs it. Send her an email, let her know what you think.

Without NORAD’s official protection, securing North American airspace for Santa and his reindeer, Santa’s annual global delivery route–and Santa himself– could be at risk! I hope the fine men and women at NORAD ignore the Scrooges and screwballs, and continue their volunteer efforts to keep Santa’s supply routes open and safe! Props to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, for standing his ground in this (manufactured) controversy. A fictional controversy about an imaginary NORAD mission. It’s perfect.

WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Some child advocates are upset that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is providing Santa Claus with a fighter jet escort around the globe in this year’s tracking program.

Since 1955, NORAD Tracks Santa has been operated by the joint U.S.-Canada command.  Its purpose is to provide children with information and details about Santa’s whereabouts as he drops off presents around the world.

This year’s program depicts Santa flying over snow-capped mountain peaks with a military aircraft keeping up with him on either side.

The addition of the fighter jets is “part of our effort to give the program more of an operational feel,” NORAD spokesman Jeff A. Davis told The Boston Globe.

A California child and family psychologist, Allen Kanner, told the newspaper that the Pentagon is “completely out of line” for linking Christmas with the military.

“Children associate Santa with gifts and fun and everything else that is positive about Christmas,” Kanner told the newspaper. “They are associating this with the military in children’s minds.”

The Globe also reported that another video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website shows military personnel preparing for a flight test with an intelligence officers asserting that “intel can confirm that Jack Frost and the Abominable Snowman will not be a threat.”

“I think people are quite aware of the military’s true mission,” Amy Hagopian, a professor of public health at the University of Washington, explained to the newspaper. “If the military wants to keep its ranks stocked, it needs to appeal to children. The military knows it can’t appeal to adults to volunteer. It is like the ad industry.”

Last year roughly 22.3 million people visited the website and generated 114,000 phone calls handled by 1,200 volunteers.  This year the website will be available in eight languages.

And from the LA Times

Santa and his reindeer have some company this year: military fighter jets. And that has some people very unhappy, saying it is a thinly veiled marketing video aimed at children.

NORAD is equating jolly old St. Nick and the military in the minds of kids, one psychologist said.

Santa means presents, good times and “everything else that is positive about Christmas,” Allen Kanner, a child and family psychologist, told the Boston Globe. The co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood said the Pentagon has gone too far.

The associate director of the campaign, Josh Golin, goes a step further. He told CNN that it was “a back-door way to market” the military to kids. The Pentagon took this holiday tradition and added “violence and militarism,” he said.

The controversy stems from a teaser video unveiled by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the joint U.S.-Canada force.

Each Christmas Eve, NORAD volunteers operate Santa Tracker, which has become a beloved holiday tradition in part because it keeps children out of the way while parents are busy doing, well, all that stuff that parents do on Christmas Eve.

Watch this 39-second video, which gives kids a taste of what’s to come when Santa and his reindeer take to the skies, and toward the end you’ll see that Santa has some company: two military jets escorting him as he makes his way through the evening skies.

NORAD seems to be standing its ground in this controversy: NORAD is the military, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told the Globe, “and this is our mission.”

latimes.com and CBS DC


2 Comments on “Scrooged: The ‘War on Good Cheer’ Targets NORAD’s Beloved Santa Tracker Tradition”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet NORAD’s Santa Tracker: Fanciful ‘Fighter Jet Escort’ for Santa Under Fire from […]

  2. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius.com and commented:
    It’s changed. When I was little, the tracking would go “live”, and you would hear over AM radio, jets being scrambled, then later, the sound of jet engines and mock cockpit radio transmissions of the pilots. All the kids felt like they were there with the jets.


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