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The RNC, the Magic Negro and the LA Times

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In March, David Ehrenstein penned a piece in the LA Times titled “Obama the ‘Magic Negro’”. The term ‘Magic Negro’ comes from film criticism about the stock character commonly played by say Morgan Freeman. Wikipedia explains the phrase as ‘a supporting, often mystical stock character in fiction who, by use of special insight or powers, helps the white protagonist get out of trouble.’

It’s like the hooker with a heart of gold or the nun with no heart at all. A movie cliche. Like when someone coughs – they’re dying. Or a woman throws up – she’s pregnant.

Anyway, Ehrenstein’s piece was not about Barack Obama, it was about the image of the Magic Negro and what the public has projected on to him.

Enter, right-wing ‘knowhard’ Rush Limbaugh and ‘satirist’ Paul Shanklin. Shanklin wrote a spoof to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Titled,”Barack the Magic Negro.” With the lyrics sang by an Al Sharpton impersonator,”Barack the magic negro lives in DC. The LA Times they called him that because he’s not authentic like me. The guy from the LA paper said he made guilty whites feel good…” and “Don’t vote the Magic Negro in…”

So, who cares? No one. But then Chip Saltsman, former Mike Huckabee campaign staffer (snicker) wants to be RNC chair, so what better to send out to all his associates for Christmas than a copy of “Barack the Magic Negro”.


Then it’s stupid. Then it’s a major political party given a nod to something that is uhm…pretty flippant and short-sighted…which is…if you think about it…kind of popular at the RNC. Ahem.

So today, Tim Rutten writes to chime in for the LA Times:

Given the current state of affairs, the Republican Party’s next national chairman probably will need a sense of humor. A little judgment wouldn’t hurt either — unless, of course, the GOP elders think it’s a good idea to further refine their party into a pure aggregation of fervently religious heterosexual white people who hate taxes.

He goes onto explain why “Barack the Magic Negro” isn’t funny.

Here’s why it’s not funny: It would be like Howard Dean in 2004 burning an effigy of Bush on his lawn. You’re running for head of a ‘party’ not a lynch mob.

Anyway, our favorite part of this whole debacle is watching conservatives try to defend ‘humor’.

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