Why Republicans Still Don’t Get It

Posted by | December 28, 2008 18:34 | Filed under: Top Stories

When Rush Limbaugh played the parody “Barack the Magic Negro” on his show, a song by his parodist Paul Shanklin, Limbaugh was referring to an LA Times column by David Ehrenstein who wrote that whites would vote for Barack out of the guilt they felt for how African Americans were treated in America.  

[The “magic Negro” is] there to assuage white “guilt” (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.


It is typical talk show fare to parody this kind of thing, and well within the realm of what Limbaugh does.  I’d do the same thing on the other side, given the opportunity.  

The problem now isn’t with Limbaugh; it’s with Chip Saltsman, who is seeking the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.  Saltsman sent out a 41-track CD to committee members called “We Hate the USA” .  The CD includes songs like “The Star Spanglish Banner”,  and “Wright place, wrong pastor”. All cutting humor, and something we on the left would do to skewer the right, given the proper material.  This is this the kind of thing that makes Limbaugh such a good talk show host.  He knows how to provoke and makes his case with humor and parody.

The problem is that being the head of the Republican Party isn’t the same thing as being a talk show host.  It’s fine for a talk show host to satirically make a point in this way, but when someone vying to be a spokesman for a party that needs to reach out to non-white Americans, this kind of caper is too easily misunderstood.  I don’t think Saltsman meant to be racially divisive, but he was clearly politically tone deaf.  Similarly, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, also seeking the RNC chairmanship, called the reaction to Saltsman’s stunt “hypersensitivity”.  

No, what those who wish to be the new heads of a suffering American political party need to exhibit is some sensitivity to the sensibilities of those who already feel left out by what their party represents.  And this episode isn’t going to help.

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Copyright 2008 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.

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