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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 12/27/2008 :  21:21:23  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm more disgusted by the moment with the Republican Party. Instead of driving out the wackos who are responsible for its crushing defeat in November, the Party seems to be moving to make itself not merely in fact, but officially, the party of male, white, racist, fundamentalist reaction.

For those of you who have missed this news item (perhaps due to hang-overs?) Chip Saltsman is a leading candidate for the position of Republican National Chairman. He was formerly the top advisor to GOP Senator Bill Frist, as well as manager of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Last week Saltzman sent a CD of racist and reactionary songs to all the members of the RNC. The CD was titled, "We Hate the USA." The songs included hits such as "Barack the Magic Negro" (sung to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon).

Nobody, nobody in the RNC said boo about this flagrantly racist crap until today.

At long last, GOP Chairman Mike Duncan has condemned the CD:
"The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement reported Saturday afternoon by Politico.

"I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate, as it clearly does not move us in the right direction."
Duncan is himself a rival to Saltzman, as a candidate to remain RNC Chairman. One wonders if Duncan would have complained at all if not for the political rivalry. And why didn't he do so sooner? Could it be that he realizes making an ethical ststement like this against a racist CD might be a very risky thing to do in a Party that seems to be well on its way to spiraling into Fascism?


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

Edited by - HalfMooner on 12/27/2008 21:26:45

Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  14:25:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner
Nobody, nobody in the RNC said boo about this flagrantly racist crap until today.


In your opinion, what makes the song racist?

Is it just that it uses the word "negro" which is kinda shocking to our modern ears? Or is it a deeper issue that it's racist to suggest that white voters may have supported Obama to assuage feelings of guilt?

I tried to find the lyrics to this song tp judge for mysef, and was only able to find this transcript on Rush Limbaugh, which seems pretty short and I wonder if it's the entire song:

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/estack_12_13_06/BarackSection/Drive-By_Media_Misreporting_of__Barack_the_Magic_Negro__Song.guest.html

And this article from the LA Times, which reportedly inspired the song:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ehrenstein19mar19,0,5335087.story?coll=la-opinion-center

While my opinion is that equating Obama to the fictional "Magic Negro" archetype is something of a stretch, the points being made are certainly worthy of being raised and discussed. Race is an issue that should be discussed, and I think it's unfortunate that it's so uncomfortable to discuss it.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  15:18:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft

Race is an issue that should be discussed, and I think it's unfortunate that it's so uncomfortable to discuss it.
Break the silence, Mycroft. What, about race, should we be discussing?

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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  17:10:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by Mycroft

Race is an issue that should be discussed, and I think it's unfortunate that it's so uncomfortable to discuss it.
Break the silence, Mycroft. What, about race, should we be discussing?


Anything and everything that comes up, Dave. Just because I feel we should be more comfortable discussing the topic doesn't mean I have a specific agenda related to the topic.

In this case the obvious issue to discuss is the OP. Do you agree with HalfMooner that this song is racist? If so, what specifically do you think makes it racist? Is it just that it uses the word "negro"? Or is it racist to suggest some/many voters may have supported Obama to assuage feelings of guilt? Do you have another reason for believing the song to be racist?

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  19:24:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft

Do you agree with HalfMooner that this song is racist?
Let's see... A white comedian (allegedly) parodies a famous black man as angry over the lack of another famous black man's "authenticity" in response to a black journalist's article on white guilt being assuaged by non-threatening black men? I'd say there's plenty of racism going around, both ways.

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Tim
SFN Regular

USA
775 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  19:52:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Tim a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally Posted by Mycroft Mycroft
Do you agree with HalfMooner that this song is racist? If so, what specifically do you think makes it racist? Is it just that it uses the word "negro"?


Any other number of nouns could have been used in that case, but few others would have differentiated Obama's ancestry. What makes it negative was the intent. Then, I think we need to ask whether the lyrics intended to demean or disparage Obama or Sharpton because of race? And, I believe it was.


"We got an issue in America. Too many good docs are gettin' out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their -- their love with women all across this country." Dubya in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 9/6/2004
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  20:31:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just to be clear, "Magic Negro" is a term of art. Changing the noun wouldn't help.

David Ehrenstein (black) calling Barack Obama a Magic Negro was itself racist. Paul Shanklin (white) imitating Al Sharpton (black) being pissed off about Obama being a Magic Negro (per Ehrenstein) was also racist. In fact, the song itself is little more than an audio blackface skit, with all the pathetic horror that entails.

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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  20:50:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Tim

Originally Posted by Mycroft Mycroft
Do you agree with HalfMooner that this song is racist? If so, what specifically do you think makes it racist? Is it just that it uses the word "negro"?


Any other number of nouns could have been used in that case, but few others would have differentiated Obama's ancestry. What makes it negative was the intent. Then, I think we need to ask whether the lyrics intended to demean or disparage Obama or Sharpton because of race? And, I believe it was.


I think you have an excellent definition of what racism is, but I disagree in how you apply it here. It seems to me that the person who wrote the song was poking fun at Al Sharpton's criticisms of Obama for not being authentic enough, but I don't see where it disparages either man for their race, even if it clearly disparages Sharpton for his attitudes towards Obama and race.

I personally wonder if it's a legitimate criticism of Sharpton. I remember the issue being raised during the campaign, but I don't remember if Sharpton was one of the ones raising it, and a brief google search by me didn't uncover any quotes like that by Sharpton.

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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  22:36:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
Just to be clear, "Magic Negro" is a term of art. Changing the noun wouldn't help.


Specifically, the term is used to raise awareness of certain racial archetypes in film and literature.

Originally posted by Dave W.
David Ehrenstein (black) calling Barack Obama a Magic Negro was itself racist.


I disagree. The writer uses the term to make a point. I personally think he overstates his case, but that's sort of the job of an opinion writer.

Originally posted by Dave W.
Paul Shanklin (white) imitating Al Sharpton (black) being pissed off about Obama being a Magic Negro (per Ehrenstein) was also racist.


I think hearing the song is more shocking than reading the lyrics. (and I didn't hear the song until you provided the link) Listening to it, it sounds like he's making fun of Obama while using the term "Magic Negro" as a pejorative. Only upon careful consideration of the lyrics does it become clear he's poking fun at Sharpton and not Obama. Then again, many songs have a different message on examination of their lyrics than they seem to at first.

Racist? Again, I don't think so. I think it's terrible at getting it's message across, and I think it's an insignificant message even if it were more effective, but I don't think it's intended to disparage anyone because of their race.


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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2008 :  23:53:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mycroft, I notice you declined to comment on my point that the song itself is an example of blackface, which, because Shanklin isn't using the song to make a point about black stereotypes being racist themselves, is racist.

And you're ignoring the fact that the song wasn't written to make fun of either Obama or Sharpton, but to make light of Ehrenstein's article.

You're also wrong about the term "Magic Negro." It is a pejorative. It's a black character who exists for no other purpose than to use his "magic" (or wisdom) to help out the white hero, not as a partner, but in a subordinate/superior relationship. Ehrenstein was trying to say that white folk see Obama as a generally history-less and unthreatening black man who's going to work some mojo to help all us poor crackers out of a jam, just like the nice colored people on screen. It wasn't because we agreed with Obama's politics - we'd vote for him because he's a Magic Negro.

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2008 :  12:28:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Since the song was obviously written to play for a white conservative audience, not matter what Ehrenstein's intention was in his opinion piece, which I happen to think is racist, do you wonder, mycroft, why it was Rush who first played the song on his radio show? What do you suppose there is about the song that appealed to Rush, who, with his bias firmly established, we know is something less than a keen social critic?

Could it be that the song supports the racial stereotypes that people like Rush and Saltzman believe so completely that they are surprised at why anyone would be offended by promoting a song that places those stereotypes front and center?

I think it's ludicrous to think that Saltzman is making fun of a racist essay in the Times by making the point of his song, even humorously, that the essay in the LA Times is racist. Nope. What he did was run with the idea behind the essay because it confirmed his own prejudice.

But I'll tell you what. Find me the qualifier in the song that tells me that he was not using those stereotypes to promote what he actually thinks. Parody only works if you let other people in on the joke...




Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2008 :  13:24:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Whatever it was it was an epicly stupid idea and he should have known better. Certainly it's not going to help the GOP win more than 10% of the black vote in the next 20 years.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2008 :  22:53:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
Mycroft, I notice you declined to comment on my point that the song itself is an example of blackface, which, because Shanklin isn't using the song to make a point about black stereotypes being racist themselves, is racist.


Do I need to comment on everything?

Okay...I disagree with your opinion. Blackface creates stereotyped black archetypes, while this song was imitating a specific real-life individual. If the song were sung from generic black person's point of view, you'd be right.

Originally posted by Dave W.
And you're ignoring the fact that the song wasn't written to make fun of either Obama or Sharpton, but to make light of Ehrenstein's article.


I listened to the song again, and you may be right. Does that strengthen the argument for the song being racist? I think it makes it weaker.

Originally posted by Dave W.
You're also wrong about the term "Magic Negro." It is a pejorative. It's a black character who exists for no other purpose than to use his "magic" (or wisdom) to help out the white hero, not as a partner, but in a subordinate/superior relationship.


Subordinate isn't pejorative and President of the United States certainly isn't subordinate.

I think Ehrenstein misses the mark when he applies the term to real people rather than fictional characters. As a description of a fictional archetype, the term is useful in illustrating certain biases and preconceptions we have as a society as they are reflected in film and literature, but in real life there is no such thing as a “magic negro”.

Originally posted by Dave W.
Ehrenstein was trying to say that white folk see Obama as a generally history-less and unthreatening black man who's going to work some mojo to help all us poor crackers out of a jam, just like the nice colored people on screen. It wasn't because we agreed with Obama's politics - we'd vote for him because he's a Magic Negro.


I think Ehrenstein has a point.

I think he misses the mark with the “magic negro” archetype crap, but the essential point that many people supported Obama because voting for a black man assuages white liberal guilt and this particular black man has an amazing, smooth, polished, calm, charisma that evokes an unspoken promise to transcend, and heal the racial divide. Magic? Wow, that's a pretty strong word, but his charisma is amazing so maybe it's not too strong a word.

I don't think Ehrenstein is wrong in this. He may well be overstating the case, but the essential point that these factors played an important role in Obama's rise to power are correct.

My response to Ehrenstein would be; Well, okay. But if true, so what?

The truth is in a democracy lots of people pick or reject their candidates for stupid reasons. Not everybody, not even most people, are all that well educated on the issues. People vote party lines, or on some soundbite they remember but only vaguely understand. Hillary Clinton loses support because people don't like how often she changes her hair style, while John Edwards undoubtedly picks up support from people who are dazzled by his smile and $400 haircut. Above all, people vote their feelings, and Obama certainly has a gift for evoking strong feelings. Hope? Change? What kind of crap is that? What does it mean? Well, nothing, really, but as slogans go they're good ones. They evoke powerful feelings even if they don't conta
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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2008 :  23:10:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
...do you wonder, mycroft, why it was Rush who first played the song on his radio show?


My understanding is this guy works for Rush. I may be wrong, but that's the impression I came away with from the reading I've done over the past couple of days. Anything and everything this guy produces will likely be aired on Rush Limbaugh before being heard anywhere else.

Originally posted by Kil
What do you suppose there is about the song that appealed to Rush, who, with his bias firmly established, we know is something less than a keen social critic?


I haven't listened to Rush since the early days of the Clinton administration, but I really don't think Rush is racist.

Rush likes to be a lightening rod. He likes to draw criticism.
He likes to put stuff out there that will draw a knee-jerk response, then he will spend days or weeks poking fun at the knee-jerk response. He will make it out like only he and his listeners are smart enough to see what's going on, but the evil, liberal, drive-by media is so stupid they will claim this obvious parady of the LA Times piece is actually a racist anthem, blah, blah, blah...

Rush knows that somebody will always give him the response he's looking for, then he can parlay that to represent all the media, and his listeners never catch on that it's just a cherry-picked example because, well, frankly they get most of their information about the world from Rush.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2008 :  23:35:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft

Do I need to comment on everything?
When it's relevant to the point being discusssed... yes.
Okay...I disagree with your opinion. Blackface creates stereotyped black archetypes, while this song was imitating a specific real-life individual. If the song were sung from generic black person's point of view, you'd be right.
The song is sung from a generic "angry" black man's point of view. Or do you think Sharpton would specifically have said those things, while other "authentic" black men (like Snoop Dogg, another alleged exemplar) would not?
Originally posted by Dave W.
And you're ignoring the fact that the song wasn't written to make fun of either Obama or Sharpton, but to make light of Ehrenstein's article.
I listened to the song again, and you may be right.
You shouldn't have had to listen to the song again to figure it out, but instead read what the songwriter said about his own intention, which was repeated by Rush. Are you trying to figure out what the song means independent of its context?
Does that strengthen the argument for the song being racist? I think it makes it weaker.
Why?
Subordinate isn't pejorative and President of the United States certainly isn't subordinate.
Subordinate isn't pejorative if one ignores the master/slave context of race relations in the United States. And Morpheus certainly got to boss Neo around a whole bunch in the Matrix trilogy, but was still a Magic Negro.
I think Ehrenstein misses the mark when he applies the term to real people rather than fictional characters. As a description of a fictional archetype, the term is useful in illustrating certain biases and preconceptions we have as a society as they are reflected in film and literature, but in real life there is no such thing as a “magic negro”.
But the point isn't about what's true, it's about real-life perceptions. Ehrenstein chose to describe what he thought white voters would see.
I think Ehrenstein has a point.

I think he misses the mark with the “magic negro” archetype crap, but the essential point that many people supported Obama because voting for a black man assuages white liberal guilt and this particular black man has an amazing, smooth, polished, calm, charisma that evokes an unspoken promise to transcend, and heal the racial divide. Magic? Wow, that's a pretty strong word, but his charisma is amazing so maybe it's not too strong a word.

I don't think Ehrenstein is wrong in this. He may well be overstating the case, but the essential point that these factors played an important role in Obama's rise to power are correct.
You're going to need to support your case, here. Asserting that it's possible is one thing. Ehrenstein didn't stop there, and neither have you. Where is the evidence? That's why his piece was racist, and you're straddling the line.
Ehrenstein didn't do anything different from what any other political comme

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 12/30/2008 :  02:02:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I first want to thank Dave W. for explaining the somewhat complex background to this issue, much of which I hadn't understood.

Two points, I'd like to make. First, I suspect that 95% or so of people hearing of the "Barack the Magic Negro" song will perceive it as simply mocking Obama for being black. Not only will they fail to understand connection to the LA Times article by a black man, or know of the "Magic Negro" stereotype he mentioned, most people wouldn't much care if they did.

Indeed, I believe this perception of a direct mockery of President Elect Obama's "race" fits Saltzman's primary race-baiting intentions. That unadorned racism is aimed at the knuckle-walking rednecks in the diminished base of the GOP.

The additional background, with its Magic Negro implications, only adds an additional smear of "intellectual" racism to entertain the GOP insiders. It also serves to provide enough complexity to allow the construction of twisted reasoning so that Saltzman can attempt to dodge and weave around the details to defend himself from charges of racism.

Anyway, as Saltzman insists, it's all just in fun, right?

For a very long time, the GOP has had about zero chance of gaining any perceptible support among African Americans. That's certainly not about to change soon, and is not really an issue in all this.

The real issues are these: How many decent white conservatives will be so repelled by the growing racism of the GOP that they will feel compelled to leave that Party? And what kind of Party will be left, when those that remain are mostly racist demagogues and ignorant rednecks?


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 12/30/2008 02:06:21
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