‘Barack the Magic Negro’ Continues to Hurt GOP Brand

December 29, 2008 at 12:23 am

Chip Saltsman, former Tennessee GOP leader, in a bid to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent a CD of parodies to committee members that included the song “Barack the Magic Negro.”

Many have labeled the effort as racist and the current chairman of the RNC has stated that he is appalled.

Saltsman himself has said that the song is a satire of a column written in the Los Angeles Times.

The media coverage of this issue tends to paint the picture using either of these two frames: racist or satire.

The coverage doesn’t look very closely at what is going on.

The song lyrics make fun of the difference between blacks like Al Sharpton, a representative of so-called “authentic” blacks, and Barack Obama, the non-authentic “magic negro.”

Conservative radio shows have long used people like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan and Snoop Dogg to represent the black race. The theory, I believe, is that if most people see these faces as the faces of the black community, then black people in general become scary.

Barack Obama transcends this dichotomy. He is anything but scary. He has a wonderful family. He has a great story. He was President of his class at Harvard. When you hear him speak, he sounds responsible. He is a successful black man more in the tradition of Bill Cosby or Tiger Woods than Louis Farrakhan.

Since he does not fit into the traditional conservative picture of the scary black man, he truly is a threat to conservatives. Why? Politically he appeals to a much broader audience. And he threatens the conservative worldview in which white people are good, and black people are scary (to see how this worldview plays out, watch an episode of the TV show COPS).

How does this relate to the song? Republicans are not sure how to attack Obama. So they keep trying to link him to “scary” black people like Snoop Dogg and Al Sharpton.

The song also tries to use one black person, in the persona of Al Sharpton, to attack another. The theory being that if a black person attacks another black person it cannot be labeled racist.

In the song, the Sharpton character is jealous because a “real black man” like himself is not beloved by the press and guilty whites.

The song ridiculously highlights white guilt as the only reason why a white person would vote for Obama.

At the same time, the song slyly winks to a racist audience – see, we can make fun of a black person and get away with it, you just have to do it right.

But decide for yourself if this is racist or not.

I just have to laugh at the clumsiness of the effort. The song isn’t going to convince anyone who doesn’t already believe the “white guilt” argument. And it only further alienates some who would otherwise consider themselves Republicans.

That’s why politically astute representatives of the party like Newt Gingrich have said the comment was inappropriate and  called on the party to reform.

The real issue for the Republican party is that the song hurts their brand. People are not sure any more what Republicans stand for, only what they stand against.

Currently, Republicans are all attack and blame with very few ideas.

So regardless of whether the song is or is not racist, it doesn’t seem like a very bright move on the part of someone seeking to be a leader in the GOP.

Because like it or not, Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.

When Democrats satirized George W. Bush as stupid, there was a tremendous outcry from conservatives that they were not respecting the office of the President.

Think what the reaction would have been had Howard Dean sent out a CD with parodies of George W. Bush.  His patriotism would have been questioned and they would have said he hated America.

Maybe Democrats should try calling Chip Saltsman un-American and accuse him of not respecting the office of the President.

Ok, conservatives. Let’s see for once if your philosophy is more than just words like “end big government” or “the party of personal responsibility.”

Does respecting the office of the President only apply to Republican presidents?

I guess we will see.