Ugly racism – is there any other kind? – is alive and well with the parody “Barack the Magic Negro”, to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon” now in the news and available on the internet.
A CD containing the parody was sent out to prospective supporters by Chip Saltsman, a Tennessee Republican, who wants to be chair of the Republican National Committee (but probably won’t be). Apparently the CD has been around for quite awhile and is familiar to Rush Limburger (not his real name, I know) Radio Show fans.
Why any responsible member of the Republican Party would even want to be associated with the vile thing is beyond me. And I’ll stop right here and admit I thought it was a catchy tune and maybe even a little humorous (poor production quality, though), but then again, even though I don’t go for political correctness, I would not want to be publicly associated with the dissemination of the racially motivated political parody.
In the antebellum South when the slave owners wanted to keep their black chattel in line they played on the racial fears of poor whites and the mockery and condemnation of a whole race of people in order to create an atmosphere in which their people-owning way of life could thrive down on the old plantation.
And after the slaves were freed and the aristocrats lost their slaves and often their plantations and much of their power and wealth along with them, they were threatened by poor whites, some of whom moved into the power vacuum (read William Faulkner’s fictional, but educational stories about the Snopes family).
For self-protection, the Southern aristocracy once again fanned the flames of racial fears and with the help of the poorer white folks rode around with hoods over their heads and terrorized their black neighbors.
And fast forward to the 1960s, the Republicans developed the Southern Strategy. Appealing to racism, the party of Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, fought against civil rights legislation and appealed to racism in the South and all over the country, especially where white workers felt their jobs might be threatened.
Perhaps the Democratic Party went too far with civil rights legislation, creating special privileges (such as hiring preferences for government employment and other so-called “affirmative action” policies). This helped keep the Republicans in power for a long time.
(While I was in college taking a constitutional law class from an ultra-liberal professor, I suggested that rather than invoke racial preferences or quotas when an employer had two or more equally qualified individuals of different races apply for a job one remedy might be to put their names on slips of paper and put them into a hat (or drum) and pick them out in lottery fashion. The professor seemed dubious of that suggestion.)
Now that Republicans see themselves headed for political oblivion (at least for the next two to four years), some of them have reached for the race card once more (how that helps now, I’m not sure).
I really don’t care what kind of jokes people tell one another in private (can’t control that and wouldn’t want to), but I have to shake my head why any responsible person would want to be associated publicly with the Barack the Magic Negro parody (except for that Limburger guy, whom I’m convinced sees his broadcasts as a way to make money exploiting bigotry and knownothingism).
The afore-mentioned parody might be good for a laugh, maybe, but not good for our country.
P.s. And don’t you think that even much of the Republican leadership who publicly object to the racist parody know in their minds that the target audience will keep them in mind, thinking, yeah they have to publicly disavow it, but we know they are on our side?
P.s. P.s. Also, I hope I have not implied that racism began and resides only in the South. In my lifetime I have observed that it thrives among all races and in virtually all geographical locations. There are, after all, always competing cultures, and when one gets power over the other there is likely to be a push back and there are always those third parties who play on natural racist tendencies for the purpose of furthering their own power.
P.s. P.s. P.s. And now I see that there is an entry in Wikipedia on the “Magical Negro” or “Magic Negro”, a plot device used in stories. Something about a black guy with no past that always gets the white hero out of trouble (sounds famliar; I need to study that one more).