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Rush Limbaugh Getting a Pass on 'Obama the Magic Negro?'

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Deeper_Background, May 18, 2007.

  1. Deeper_Background

    Deeper_Background Active Member

    Let's recap: Don Imus referred to a group of African-American women as "nappy-headed hos" and was criticized, berated and, eventually, fired. Shortly after, two radio DJs in Pennsylvania were fired for encouraging listeners to repeat Imus' remarks.

    And this week, two New York City DJs were fired after making racist remarks against Asians.

    Meanwhile, we have Rush Limbaugh, who is proudly airing the work of Paul Shanklin, a conservative commentator and impressionist and a regular on Limbaugh's syndicated radio show (which airs 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays on KTRH-AM 740). Both are white.

    The piece is crude, over the top and loaded with racial stereotypes, which raises the question: Is Limbaugh getting a free pass?

    "It's an interesting question," said David Ehrenstein, a freelance writer who wrote an essay about the "Magic Negro" for the Los Angles Times.

    "Barack (Obama) was asked about it, and he blew it off," Ehrenstein said. "But I'm not sure why no one else has really talked about it."

    In case you missed it, Shanklin impersonates Al Sharpton singing Obama, the Magic Negro to the tune of Peter, Paul and Mary's Puff, the Magic Dragon. In the song, the Sharpton character derisively calls out presidential candidate Barack Obama as being — among other things — "not authentic like me."

    The music is loaded with racial stereotypes. Shanklin sings in a dialect that, we're guessing, is supposed to be ebonics, saying "dat" instead of "that" and implying that Obama wasn't from "da 'hood."

    In video online, images of Obama flash across the screen, including one of him superimposed in front of a statue of Superman. The Super Negro.

    The piece's implication is pretty clear: Sharpton sees himself as an old-school black who keeps it real and views Obama as a new-school black who has sold out.

    The concept of the Magic Negro has been around for decades. It's an archetype used in popular culture to describe a powerful, heroic, benevolent black person who would sacrifice everything for white people.

    "The term came up in that it evokes qualities of the figure that is a Magic Negro able to heal everything, which is a very quaint and artificial take on race relations," Ehrenstein said. "Instead of the black person who is a cartoon or is a scary sexual figure, you have the black person who is good out of the goodness of his heart."

    Ehrenstein, who is black, also believes that Limbaugh is transparent in his actions. It's obvious he is trying to hitch onto the Imus controversy and bait people into paying attention to him, he says. But that's something the media haven't done here.

    One has to wonder where the outrage is. Why haven't there been any protests or prepared statements, press conferences or staged apologies?

    It could be argued that Obama is fair game since he is running for public office.

    When asked about it, the candidate told the Chicago Tribune that Shanklin's video was "dumb."

    Sharpton's people have not commented on the radio clip. But Sharpton himself has made comments referencing Latter-day Saint Mitt Romney's run for president that many are calling bigoted. During a debate, Sharpton said: "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that. That's a temporary situation."

    Rallying against Limbaugh would be exactly what the talk-show host wants, Ehrenstein said.

    "He's been in sort of a frenzy since the Imus firing," he said. "He's been sort of flailing around to bait his bosses and the media, to take it right up to the edge if he can and scream if anyone says anything. But people are pretty much ignoring him. I think people can see what this really is about."

    As Ehrenstein pointed out in his March 19 Times piece, the Magic Negro is found in all forms of media but is prevalent in film. Both Sidney Poitier and Morgan Freeman played the archetype in several films, as have Will Smith (Bagger Vance) and Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy).

    Part of the outrage surrounding Imus' comments stemmed from the fact that it was the last straw. Many felt that the host has, for years, made offensive comments toward various groups and had always gotten off.

    But the same could be said about Limbaugh, who has also made a career of making controversial statements.

    "There is no question that Rush plays with issues in the area of race and racial talk," said Tom Taylor, editor of trade magazine Inside Radio. "Certainly some people remember the situation between him and Donovan McNabb."

    Taylor was speaking about the flap in 2003 when Limbaugh, speaking on ESPN, said the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback wasn't talented and received attention only because he was black.

    After an outcry, Limbaugh was fired from his ESPN gig
  2. markvid

    markvid Guest

    Oh, Christ, the rash is back...
  3. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    And I'm itchin'
  4. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    A sign I once saw, Moddy.

    Clean what needs cleaning, fill what's empty and scratch where it itches.
  5. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    I'm home now, so I guess I can scratch my ass. My office has this huge window so I have to be careful where I scratch there.
  6. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Only if your ass fills the window. ;)
  7. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Only liberals such as Hunter Thompson and Gore Vidal and Michael Moore and Al Franken are allowed to be outrageous in their social commentary to make a point. Conservatives don't get that right.
  8. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    It is big enough unfortunately
  9. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    You've got it, hondo.
  10. PhilaYank36

    PhilaYank36 Guest

    I hate politics. Everybody today has thin skin and rabbit ears. You can't say boo without offending someone. Hell, ghosts would probably take offense to that last statement b/c it stereotypes them as being scary.
  11. Bamadog

    Bamadog Well-Known Member

    Because of this out of control culture of offense, humor has suffered. You can't say anything these days without a bunch of thin-skinned, linquine-spined wimps on both sides of aisle crying bloody murder.

    Whatever happened to sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me? It's just depressing. Tip-toeing through the tulips praying that you won't offend anyone is no way to live.

    Besides, it wasn't Rush or his parody artist friend that coined the original term of "Magic Negro" anyway, so what's the point?
  12. SportsDude

    SportsDude Active Member

    Listen to the actual song.
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