The Hill reported on Friday that a candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship, Chip Saltsman, sent a Christmas greeting to committee members that included a CD by the Rush Limbaugh Show's Paul Shanklin. Among the song titles on the CD was "Barack the Magic Negro," sung to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon." The CD, entitled, "We Hate the USA," attempts to make fun of liberals and included other titles such as, "John Edward's Poverty Tour," "Wright Place, Wrong Pastor," "Love Client #9," "Ivory and Ebony" and "The Star Spanglish Banner."
Limbaugh first played "Barack the Magic Negro" on his radio show in March of 2007. The song, "latches onto an opinion column in the Los Angeles Times of the same title. That column, penned by cultural critic David Ehrenstein, argued that Obama could serve as a balm to whites who felt guilty about past treatment of African Americans," The Hill reported.
"Paul Shanklin is a long-time friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for the Rush Limbaugh show are light-hearted political parodies," Saltsman said.
Part of me can understand that "Barack the Magic Negro" might well be little more (or less) than a lame attempt at humor. But even so, little would better exemplify the utter insensitivity common on the Right to issues of race still haunting American society. There's been a lot of evidence lately to suggest that the Republican party, as if it hadn't been already, is becoming ever more a party of white people and, in particularly, Southern whites. Republicans might also want to consider that when the Party of White People makes fun of African-Americans, they might also be sending a message to everybody else who isn't white. The message that Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, and other relatively recent émigrés to America and their descendants might well take from an attack by Republicans on the African-American community is that the attack is really an attack on the non-white community as a whole. If you add up all of the non-white Americans, you get nearly half of America. One possible factor in Obama's comfortable electoral win might be that for the first time, all of those American "others" saw in Obama a person who, while he might not share much with their specific histories, understood what it is like to be a minority in America. This would partly explain why many in the Latino community shifted fairly seamlessly from supporting Hillary Clinton in the primary to supporting Obama in the Presidential contest despite many pundits' predictions that Latinos would not support an African-American in great numbers.
It's as if the Republicans' plan for future electoral victories lies in alienating everybody who doesn't share a very specific heritage and worldview. Good luck with that.