Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Magic Negro CD

"Puff, you're back."

There is a lot of flap going around around in the past couple of days about a comedy song on a CD entitled: "Barack the Magic Negro", which was apparently sent out by Chip Saltsman, a Republican politician from Tennessee, to many of his Republican colleagues. As a result, Republican politicians are falling all over themselves in the spirit of political correctness to condemn the CD. It is important that as this story spreads that the public understand exactly what the details of the story are. As one who has heard the CD on the Rush Limbaugh show, I am aware of the history of the song.

First of all, the song is only one of a collection of song parodies recorded by one Paul Shanklin, whose parodies have been played for years on Limbaugh's show. The targets are always figures or causes from the left. The most recent is "Banking Queen" a parody of Barney Frank set to the music of the Abba hit "Dancing Queen". (Yes, some Gay groups are upset about it.)Another is "In a Yugo", a take-off on Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto", a parody of environmentalists, who buy a Yugo to do their part to save the planet and only get wiped out by a truck for their trouble.

Shanklin is a talented guy, and he and Limbaugh have teamed up for years to add humor to the syndicated commentator's radio show.

Now about the "Barack the Magic Negro" piece. The theme was inspired by an LA Times article that came out March 19, 2007 by David Ehrenstein entitled: "Barack the Magic Negro", in which the writer wrote about white voters trying to assuage their guilt by supporting Obama.,0,5335087.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Shanklin followed up with his song parody set to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon", the old 1960s pop hit by Peter, Paul and Mary, with the impersonated voice of Al Sharpton. In the song, an envious "Sharpton" complains about the success of Obama as a presidential candidate and questions his credentials as an "authentic black man". In fact, the song's lines point out that the moniker, "Magic Negro" came from the LA Times:

"Barack the magic Negro lives in DC. The LA Times called him that because he's black but not authentically."

It should also be kept in mind that Saltsman (who is a friend of Shanklin) did not send out a CD with just this one song. It was part of a CD with several of Shanklin's parodies. In fact, Shanklin has marketed his CDs commercially. Furthermore, this is the first time I am aware that the song has caused any controversy.

So I would suggest to anyone following this story that they read the Ehrenstein article, listen to the CD and decide. This is not a case of some racist Republican politician disseminating a racist song parody. Don't just read the headlines, skim over the story and make a snap decision. This is not a serious story.

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