Saturday, January 03, 2009

Obama the Magic Negro

If you haven’t heard it yet, this is the song that is creating so much controversy. The lyrics of this parody are pretty much self-explanatory. The song takes it title from a March 2007 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times that argued that Obama was the “magic Negro” and his candidacy helped white voters alleviate guilt over past racial injustices. This parody from Paul Shanklin was first aired on the Rush Limbaugh program. I am not offended by it. I find it humorous. Like a lot of humor, however, someone is bound to take offence. Mush of the media is characterizing the song as racist and as insulting to Barack Obama. I think it is a real stretch to label this as racist. The target of the parody is not even Obama but Al Sharpton and those who criticized Obama for being insufficiently “Black.”

Former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman, who was campaign manager for Mike Huckabee and is now a candidate for Chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent as a Christmas gift a Paul Shanklin CD to members of the RNC and other prominent people on his gift list. Among the 41 songs on the CD was this one. In my view it is just silly that this is an issue. I don’t think that giving a gift of a CD of political parodies should be reason to disqualify Saltsman for the position of RNC chairman. On the other hand, the world is not fair and the party needs a Chairman that can rebuild the party.
I am not concerned about this because I think Blacks will take offence and not support the GOP. Ninety-six percent of African Americans voted for Obama, which was an increase from the 90% who almost always vote for Democrats. The African American community is so tied to the Democratic Party that I doubt we will ever pry them loose. There are not enough Black votes in play to make a difference. My concern is that we will permanently loose those white voters who voted for the “magic Negro” if the Republican Party is perceived as tolerant of racist attitudes.

It is unfair I know and I hate that we have to succumb to political correctness, but now is not the time to stand up to the dominant political establishment and defend a conservative comedian. We have more important things on the agenda. We do not need this distraction. We need to choose our battles and now is not the time to battle extreme sensitivity and political correctness. Most people will never even hear the song to judge it for themselves; they will just hear that the Republican Party selected as their chairman someone who sent out a racist song that made fun of Obama.

If one has aspirations to be Chairman of the RNC, then one should send out tasteful paperweights that are a bust of Lincoln or maybe a brass elephant paperweight or a book of Ronald Regan quotations. Political humor is a landmine for a politician. Leave the promotion of political humor to Rush Limbaugh. The Party has enough problems without this. I am sympathetic to Saltsman, but we need to throw him under the bus and move on.

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  1. I agree America may be oversensitive about the race issue.much like here in Zimbabwe where race-baiting has been turned into a political art by Robert Mugabe

    Still, I think for the guy campaigning to be RNC Chair, your suggestions are right on the mark. The idea is to win and the RNC can only do that by wooing the black and middle ground vote, like Reagan did.

  2. You miss the point entirely. The humor is not offensive, its the word "negro".

    This is a derogatory term. By the looks of your picture, perhaps this was an acceptable term back in "your day, and age".

    If the song was "Puff the magic black man" if would still have the correct number of sylables to fit the "dragon" word in the original lyric, and only the VERY sensitive would be offended.

    "Hunky" was term to describe "my people", back in the day. But it was not meant as a compliment, at the time, it was usually linked to "dumb hunky".

    I would be offended if a large organization would use it in a song.

    While Negro is NOT as bad as the real "N' word, its a close second.