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31 December 2008

"Barack the Magic Negro" -- right-wingers sing it as a funny joke, as Americans shrink and recoil from the Republican Party

Yeah yeah click image

Okay, what is going on here?

Following the huge election victory of Barack Obama and a parallel wave of Democratic House and Senate victories, the US Republican Party -- Bush's party -- is in very sick shape. They have no power or influence, they have no money, this is the season when most Americans view the Republican Party as an aberrant, loopy, foot-shooting bunch of marginalized whacko fringe losers.

As smoothly as Obama went from little-known junior US senator from Illinois to defeat Hillary Clinton and become US President-elect, the Republicans ran Campaign 2008 in a toxic, fœtid swamp of mistakes, invocations of Holy Republican All-White Jesus, loopy choices like Sarah Palin, a lousy, wholly out-of-touch presidential candidate, and an incompetent, desperate staff.

Well, somebody's got to lead the Republican National Committee in its moment of pain and powerlessness, and one fellow who has stepped up to seek the job is Mike Huckabee's clever and effective campaign manager, Chip Saltsman.

Saltsman is beginning his campaign for GOP chairman by diving into the first pile of hot steaming controversial dung he could find, all by himself, with no one to blame for his Mother Of All Fool Public Stunts.

Let's face it: In the 20th Century, Republicans have become the Party Of and For White People. African-Americans think of the modern Republican Party (Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president) as a party uncomfortable with and hostile to the concerns of African-Americans. Hispanics also voted overwhelmingly Democrat in November.

Numerically, if the Republicans stay All White, and cannot effectively reach out to blacks and Hispanics and lure big chunks of them into the Republican Party, the Republican Party will proudly, conservatively shrink, wither away, and die, the Republican Party will become a Fringe Party with no further influence on American politics.

So Chip Saltsman begins his bid to run the Republican National Committee for the next four years with this stunt. This guy has the political instincts of Sarah Palin, and sees the Big Picture about as clearly as Stevie Wonder.

He joins a long string of national-level Republicans who keep screwing the pooch by opening their big mouths, when they don't have to, about black and racial issues -- and offending the crap out of more and more white voters who just don't want to be anywhere near this current crop of Republicans.

When you have to scamper around the cable screaming "I'm not a racist! Some of my best friends are Negroes! I was just making a joke!" -- well, it's time to vanish and stop embarrassing all the Republicans who have hopes of ever becoming popular and powerful again.


Agence France-Presse (AFP)
newswire France
Tuesday 30 December 2008

'Magic Negro' song
struggling Republicans

NEW YORK (AFP) — A senior Republican's distribution of a song titled "Barack the Magic Negro" has triggered a nasty battle for the soul of the struggling party.

Furious debates filled political blogs Tuesday, deepening Republican splits as the party tries to chart a course out of the political wilderness.

Chip Saltsman, campaigning to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, says he sent CDs of the song about president-elect Barack Obama, the first African American to win the White House, as a joke.

Opponents say that the joke proves the Republican party is badly out of touch.

The song "is a racist, hateful, sophomoric act," one blogger posted on the site. "I can't wait until all you ethnic puritan-maniacs are retired, voted out, or six feet under."

Even some prominent Republicans are expressing disquiet.

An online commentator for the National Review magazine, a pillar of US conservatism, attacked Saltsman, saying: "The use of the term 'Negro' in the song rubs me the wrong way."

Newt Gingrich, a former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, told the New York Times that the song was "inappropriate" and said the flap should disqualify Saltsman from consideration as party head.

The song spoofs veteran black activist Al Sharpton supposedly complaining that Obama is not a proper African American. It has been viewed more than 279,000 times on YouTube.

Set to the theme tune of children's film "Puff the Magic Dragon," the song opens with: "Barack the Magic Negro lives in DC."

The song goes:

"The LA Times, they called him that
'cause he's not authentic like me.
Yeah, the guy from the LA paper
said he makes guilty whites feel good.
They'll vote for him, and not for me
'cause he's not from the hood."

Republicans are struggling to recover from their crushing defeat by the Democrats in the November presidential and congressional races -- in part because of low support from ethnic minorities.

The wording of the song, particularly the now rare use of the word "negro," touched on the ultra-sensitive topic of race, an area where Republicans have often been painted as being behind the times.

Adding to the embarrassment, it has emerged that another candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship, Katon Dawson, recently resigned from a country club that allows only white members.

Saltsman was quoted by The Hill newspaper as saying he meant to be "light-hearted."

The satirist who wrote the song, Paul Shanklin, accused critics of being "extremely politically correct," McClatchy Newspapers reported Tuesday.

Politico quoted another senior Republican on Tuesday as saying that the whole thing was overblown.

"When I found out what this was about I had to ask, 'boy, what's the big deal here?' because there wasn't any," Mark Ellis, Republican chairman in Maine, said.

Right wing radio king Rush Limbaugh points out that the theme of the song -- that whites see Obama as an unthreatening black and therefore electable -- refers to a column by a black journalist in the liberal-leaning LA Times.

The March 2007 article by David Ehrenstein was titled "Obama the 'Magic Negro.'"

"It's the left that's the racists. It's the left that looks at people's skin color and doesn't see it for what it should be or what it is. They notice it. They're the ones that are racists out there," Limbaugh fumes in the transcript of a radio show prominently posted on his website.

Matt Lewis, a blogger on, said Tuesday that racist or not, Saltsman had sinned politically.

"Republicans who care about public relations also might want to think twice about electing someone who is either (1) out of touch with general societal mores, (2) lacks the ability to self-censor or self-edit, (3) simply doesn't care what people think."

- 30 -


Here are the lyrics to "Barack the Magic Negro," a song (to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon") written and sung on Rush Limbaugh's conservative radio show by political satirist Paul Shanklin, impersonating the voice of the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
‘Cause he’s not authentic like me.

Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper
Said he makes guilty whites feel good
They’ll vote for him, and not for me
‘Cause he’s not from the hood.

See, real black men, like Snoop Dog,
Or me, or Farrakhan
Have talked the talk, and walked the walk.
Not come in late and won!


Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
‘Cause he’s black, but not authentically.
Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
‘Cause he’s black, but not authentically.

Some say Barack’s “articulate”
And bright and new and “clean.”
The media sure loves this guy,
A white interloper’s dream!

But, when you vote for president,
Watch out, and don’t be fooled!
Don’t vote the Magic Negro in –
‘Cause — ’cause I won’t have nothing after all these years of sacrifice

And I won’t get justice. This is about justice. This isn’t about me, it’s about justice.

It’s about buffet. I don’t have no buffet and there won’t be any church contributions,

And there’ll be no cash in the collection plate.

There ain’t gonna be no cash money, no walkin’ around money, no phoning money.

Now, Barack going to come in here and –


The Los Angeles Times
dead tree AM daily broadsheet
Los Angeles, California USA
Monday 19 March 2007

Obama the 'Magic Negro'

......The Illinois senator lends himself white America's idealized,
......less-than-real black man.

by David Ehrenstein

L.A.-based DAVID EHRENSTEIN writes about Hollywood and politics.

AS EVERY CARBON-BASED life form on this planet surely knows, Barack Obama, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, is running for president. Since making his announcement, there has been no end of commentary about him in all quarters — musing over his charisma and the prospect he offers of being the first African American to be elected to the White House.

But it's clear that Obama also is running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination — the "Magic Negro."

The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. "He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist," reads the description on Wikipedia .

He's there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.

As might be expected, this figure is chiefly cinematic — embodied by such noted performers as Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Scatman Crothers, Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Smith and, most recently, Don Cheadle. And that's not to mention a certain basketball player whose very nickname is "Magic."

Poitier really poured on the "magic" in "Lilies of the Field" (for which he won a best actor Oscar) and "To Sir, With Love" (which, along with "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," made him a No. 1 box-office attraction). In these films, Poitier triumphs through yeoman service to his white benefactors. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is particularly striking in this regard, as it posits miscegenation without evoking sex. (Talk about magic!)

The same can't quite be said of Freeman in "Driving Miss Daisy," "Seven" and the seemingly endless series of films in which he plays ersatz paterfamilias to a white woman bedeviled by a serial killer. But at least he survives, unlike Crothers in "The Shining," in which psychic premonitions inspire him to rescue a white family he barely knows and get killed for his trouble. This heart-tug trope is parodied in Gus Van Sant's "Elephant." The film's sole black student at a Columbine-like high school arrives in the midst of a slaughter, helps a girl escape and is immediately gunned down. See what helping the white man gets you?

And what does the white man get out of the bargain? That's a question asked by John Guare in "Six Degrees of Separation," his brilliant retelling of the true saga of David Hampton — a young, personable gay con man who in the 1980s passed himself off as the son of none other than the real Sidney Poitier. Though he started small, using the ruse to get into Studio 54, Hampton discovered that countless gullible, well-heeled New Yorkers, vulnerable to the Magic Negro myth, were only too eager to believe in his baroque fantasy. (One of the few who wasn't fooled was Andy Warhol, who was astonished his underlings believed Hampton's whoppers. Clearly Warhol had no need for the accouterment of interracial "goodwill.")

But the same can't be said of most white Americans, whose desire for a noble, healing Negro hasn't faded. That's where Obama comes in: as Poitier's "real" fake son.

The senator's famously stem-winding stump speeches have been drawing huge crowds to hear him talk of uniting rather than dividing. A praiseworthy goal. Consequently, even the mild criticisms thrown his way have been waved away, "magically." He used to smoke, but now he doesn't; he racked up a bunch of delinquent parking tickets, but he paid them all back with an apology. And hey, is looking good in a bathing suit a bad thing?

The only mud that momentarily stuck was criticism (white and black alike) concerning Obama's alleged "inauthenticty," as compared to such sterling examples of "genuine" blackness as Al Sharpton and Snoop Dogg. Speaking as an African American whose last name has led to his racial "credentials" being challenged — often several times a day — I know how pesky this sort of thing can be.

Obama's fame right now has little to do with his political record or what he's written in his two (count 'em) books, or even what he's actually said in those stem-winders. It's the way he's said it that counts the most. It's his manner, which, as presidential hopeful Sen. Joe Biden ham-fistedly reminded us, is "articulate." His tone is always genial, his voice warm and unthreatening, and he hasn't called his opponents names (despite being baited by the media).

Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him.

- 30 -


Puff (The Magic Dragon)

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,
and brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh!

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flag when Puff roared out his name. Oh!

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!

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