My Only Two Questions about the Whole Saltsman Thing

1.  Was there some Tennessee Republican summit in which a list of dumbass racist things to do or say was passed out so that they could compete to see who could pull off the most outrageous?  Like I said over at Kevin‘s, this is getting to be hilarious and embarrassing.

2.  Okay, so we have Peter Yarrow’s somewhat bizarre take on the “Barack the Magic Negro” parody.  (Puff wouldn’t like it?  A. Puff’s friend deserted him; he lost his scales; and sulks in a cave.  I’m sure that can turn a dragon mean.  B.  Puff’s not real!  C. So that song wasn’t about pot?)  But who’s going to ask Spike Lee?  Isn’t he the one who came up with the super-dooper-magical negro in the first place?

This is what I find hilarious about the whole thing–and I’m going to say up front that the humor, for me, comes in part from the fact that I’m a nerdy girl–is that listening to “Barack the Magic Negro” is about on par with watching Karl Rove put on his best hip hop persona.  Is it racist?  Yes.  But, in both cases, worse than that, it shows a complete and utter cluelessness about the very thing you’re parodying.

And there is a very funny parody to be made of white liberals hoping for that in Obama in Lee’s sense of the Magic Negro, that he will come along just when they/we need him and use his powers to fix everything for us all while wanting nothing for himself.  And now that Obama’s started to piss folks on the left off, it might even be funnier, because it would poke fun at white hopes and expectations of Obama.

But this parody is just so fucking square.  It’s like “Oh we heard this phrase and it sounds like an insult and it has the word ‘negro’ in it, so it must be something black people call each other so let’s write a song in which Al Sharpton calls Obama a magic negro.  That will be swell.”

Does it show the Republicans’ racism?  Yes.  But a bigger problem than that for the Republicans is that it reaffirms their inherent out-of-touch-ness.  I mean, conservatives can complain all they want about Republicans kowtowing to the Religious Right, but at least Evangelical Christianity is a vibrant culture.  Without the conservative Christians to give some liveliness and cultural relevance to the Right, it’s like they’re Omega Theta Pi.

(Ha, it’s always good to end a post with an Animal House reference.)

13 thoughts on “My Only Two Questions about the Whole Saltsman Thing

  1. And also, may I point out in furtherance of my point, they used “Puff the Magic Dragon” as their base for the song! In thirty years they’ve heard no other song that might be fitting?

  2. Also: they are so clueless that I’d bet money they don’t know anything about Spike Lee’s “magic negro.” I think the word comes from the original song: magic dragon…magic negro. And Saltsman so really really clueless that he puts it in the material he’s circulating to convince people to make him head of the RNC! As if it’d be a deal clincher.
    And as for the vibrant evangelical culture–I hate to mention this, B, but the guy who actually composed the song was advisor to Huckabee’s campaign…

  3. Yours is the best take on the Saltzman nontroversy I can find on the whole internet. It’s offensive, not because it’s racist, but because it is appallingly unfunny.

  4. Well, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s racist, too, and that it’s a problem that a man running for the chair of the RNC would, like the College Professor said, think that would clinch the deal on his chairmanship. But I find this type of racism to be hilarious not angry-making.

    Other folks feel differently, which is fine.

    College Professor, no I believe Saltsman is the guy who ran Huckabee’s campaign. The guy who composed the song–if I’m remembering right–is one of Rush Limbaugh’s cronies.

  5. Yes, and we all know what a success Huckabee’s campaign was at broadening its narrow-spectrum appeal. He consistently trailed in fundraising, he won less than 20% of the total delegates needed for nomination by his own party, and he was constantly putting his foot in his mouth (with, ha ha, not funny “jokes” to the NRA about the assassination of Obama, for example). He came in a distant second to the man who ultimately got shitcanned in the national election.

    Chip sounds like precisely the feller I’d want the GOP to go with.

  6. The whole thing started from an article in the LA Times from a black author that called Obama a “Magic Negro” and was complaining that Obama was not “black enough.”

  7. Sorry nm,, I meant the reference to Barack Obama as being a “magic negro” started with an article in the LA Times.

  8. Let’s see … an article pointing out that many white people have an odd, somewhat patronizing, attitude toward Obama is responsible for a leading Republican promoting that odd attitude? You may need to work on your understanding of cause and effect.

  9. Sure it’s racist, but it’s not worth getting all that upset over. It’s just bad Republican humor. That’s why I like your take. You’re basically saying, “meh.”

    What disturbs me is that since the election, this kind of nonsense seems to be the only thing people want to focus on. Words, gestures, symbolism. It’s okay for Obama to hedge on Iraq and repeat the Russians’ folly in Afghanistan, but DEAR GOD HE’D BETTER NOT DARE INVITE THAT FUCKER RICK WARREN OVER TO PRAY!

    it’s as if we’ve moved into an age where anything which can be interpreted as offensive is taken so, and discussion about what offends us is always OMG WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW, OKAY? That’s not a world I want to live in, and it disturbs me to no end that my friends the liberals are the ones who are creating it around me.

  10. I subscribe, when I can, to the belief that laughter is a pretty powerful weapon (which is, of course, why the parody was made in the first place) and I try to employ it when I can.

    I like the idea of the world as raucous drunken party, but I want a raucous drunken party where everyone’s having a good time. Sometimes that means some folks are going to have to stop doing some shit. Sometimes that means other folks are going to have to get over it.

    I like to posit myself as a good judge of when those times are, but I’m not, actually. Just muddling through like everyone else.

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