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 January, 2009


 The Republican's Racial Tone Deafness

The Oops Heard ‘Round the World

It’s official. There’re now as many black Republicans as there were black confederate generals during the Civil War.

Congratulations. It’s your own fault Republicans. November proved one thing. The G.O.P. can’t claim any demographic – but for white males over the age of 250.

Even George W. Bush got 11% of the African-American vote in 2004. In 2008, John McCain got 4%.

Somebody should tell members of the “Party of Lincoln” that distributing jokes at the expense of that remaining 4% (not to mention the 96% that pulled that Obama lever) could lead to a complete shut-out in 2010.

Enter Chip Saltsman. He wants to become the Republican Party Committee Chairman. He sent out a CD as a Christmas gift to Republican Party members. It’s titled “We Hate the USA.” The “We” equals Democrats. That’s not an entirely fresh Republican cheap shot. I’ve learned to ignore their frequent allusions to the Democrat’s supposed allegiances to Karl Marx, or The Wicked Witch of the West.

But Saltsman also included another ditty on his little stocking stuffer that’s even gotten many of his fellow Republicans yelling foul – “Barack the Magic Negro.” It’s supposed to be a parody of the Peter, Paul and Mary tune – “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

It was first brandished by America’s foremost drug addict Rush Limbaugh. He first played it on his radio show in 2007. He defended its use back then, as he always does, as simply a joke. But to coin a phrase used by somebody who was actually funny – Richard Pryor – “Do you see me smiling, expletive?”

Limbaugh pointed out that the term “Barack the Magic Negro” was really the title of a column written by an African-American writer who – had borrowed it from Hollywood.

That writer had seen similarities between Obama and black film characters that appeared out of nowhere - then solved problems for white leading characters, and then conveniently disappear.

That had been the spirit of the column long before Obama was considered a legitimate candidate for the presidency. Appear from out of nowhere he did. Disappear he didn’t.

That column wouldn’t apply today. In fact, the parody, which really had nothing to do with the column, except for its title, is even more inappropriate now.

It features a bad impression of Rev. Al Sharpton who claims Obama isn’t an authentic black man.

I guess it’s supposed to poke fun at Sharpton – although the title takes a swipe at Obama.

How’s that for luring black voters?

Saltsman doesn’t see what all the controversy is about. He and fellow Republican Party Committee chair aspirant, Ken Blackwell are among the few Republicans who can’t figure out why a song that contains the words “Magic Negro” would ever thwart black flight to the Republican Party.

"Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race," claims Blackwell, an African-American who narrowly lost his bid to become the first black governor of Ohio in 2006. That is, if you consider narrowly 30 points.

Even the co-writer of the song that’s been parodied, Peter Yarrow, is weighing in. Yarrow obviously didn’t have a black president-elect in mind when he helped write “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

He says the song, “is not only offensive, it is shocking and saddening in the extreme.”
Meanwhile, there are “Magic Republicans” who’re appearing from out of nowhere to repudiate Saltsman’s controversial Christmas gift.

Newt Gingrich claims, “This is so inappropriate that it should disqualify any Republican National Committee candidate who would use it." "In my opinion, this isn't funny and it’s in bad taste," says Michigan Republican Party Chairman and candidate for the national Republican chairmanship – Saul Anuzis.
Then there’s the current chairman, who’s running for re-election – Mike Duncan. He’s says he’s “shocked and appalled” by the song in question.

Gee, there are Republicans who do find this kind of thing disgusting.

Of course, I’m still not convinced they’re as concerned about getting black voters as they are about getting black votes.

I know I’m staying away from the Republican Party.

Now somebody please keep the Republican Party away from me.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net