The Magic Negro
Christmas is supposed to be the time that people come together and exchange gifts. But, one gift has served to create division.
Chip Saltsman gave out music CDs featuring the parody song “Barack the Magic Negro” as presents to members of the RNC. Not surprisingly, this has not gone over well with some people.
Political satire has a long tradition in the United States and can often be regarded as harmless or at least acceptable humor. Both the left and the right have put out multitudes of comedy songs over the years mocking the other side. It is all part of the game of politics and a legitimate avenue for comedy.
Naturally, there is little (or no) outrage or media drama when comedy songs mock white male politicians. However, the “Barack the Magic Negro” song has stirred up things quite a bit because the song is about Obama. Some folks on the left are outraged because, of course, the left is supposed to be outraged about such things. Some folks in the Republican party are also expressing their outrage at this song and Saltsman’s decision to distribute it.
No doubt, some of the Republicans are honestly upset about the song and Saltsman’s decision. After all, the song can be seen as racist and hence Saltsman could be seen as expressing racist views (or at least bad judgment).
Also without doubt is the fact that some folks in the Republican party are exploiting this for political advantage. Not surprisingly, Saltsman’s political rivals in the party have been leading the charge against him in this matter. After all, this situation provides an excellent means for them to gain an advantage over Saltsman. There is, of course, a certain irony in these Republicans exploiting a situation created by a song popularized by Rush Limbaugh. It is also ironic that Republicans are using racial sensitivity as a piece in a political game.
This situation also raises the issue of whether the song is racist or not. On one hand, the song does include references to race and parodies both Al Sharpton and Barack Obama. The gist of the song is that Sharpton (in the parody) is saying that people will vote for Obama because he is a “magic negro” and not authentically black like Sharpton. As such, the song could be seen as racist and Saltsman’s gift could thus be seen as racist in nature.
On the other hand, the song is relatively tame and could be seen as bringing up the matter of race in a way that is legitimate political satire. In fact, a case could be made that the song is mocking the left for being so concerned about race. If so, it is ironic that some Republicans have become so suddenly concerned about the matter.