NORAD’s famed Santa tracker is under fire for showing fighter jets accompanying Santa’s sleigh in new video recently released on their re-vamped website. In the 39-second clip, Santa is shown flying across the globe, tracked by an Air Force radar surveillance plane and, at one point, being escorted by two fighters.
“I think that it’s really problematic. It’s taking a beloved children’s tradition and inserting violence and militarism into it,” said Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.
An accompanying video documents NORAD’s “test flight” to track Santa (call sign “Big Red One”). Maritime units report they’re ready to conduct “any gift rescue operations if necessary” while land units verify “load-bearing capacity for all rooftops which reindeer will land on.”
“It’s a backdoor way to market to children, and the military has no business marketing to children,” Golin said.
“This is a site that is intended as a service to children around the world,” said NORAD spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis. “We did make a conscious effort this year to be a bit more operational because that’s what we do.”
But marketing to children what NORAD does is a concern for some groups.
“They’re not showing their capabilities to adults, they’re showing their capabilities to children. As an adult I find it interesting, but the problem is that children are watching this,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
Interestingly enough, Norad has shown similar images since at least 2008 without protest.
Rumors of coal being headed to the stockings of those at Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood could not be confirmed.