>> Monday, December 29, 2008
I am not sure how many people have seen the movie Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby. It is famous for the song White Christmas. It also famous for a different song, Abraham. to give you an idea of this song and scene here is a review of the dvd,
Still, there are a few duds, the most notorious being a shockingly dated minstrel-show ode to Abraham Lincoln. As Crosby and Reynolds sing "Abraham" in blackface, Holiday Inn's African-American mammy (Louise Beavers) serenades her two small children in the kitchen: "When black folks lived in slavery / Who was it set the darkie free? / Abraham! Abraham!" The scene is a jaw-dropper, alright, but at least it's memorable.
It was that scene which put in a mind to discuss the recent racial flap. Racial discussions are always difficult because of the heated passions they arouse. The controversy surrounding the offensive song "Barack, the Magic Negro" has generated similar passions on both sides of the fight. "Magic Negro" is really a cringe worthy phrase on par with the Abraham number from Holiday Inn. Everyone is well aware that it is not ok to go around referring to african americans as "negros" just as its not ok to go around performing in black face for minstrel shows.. Those who do are trying to make a point that our society has become to "politically correct". This is not one of those phrases that straddles the border between ok and not ok. Negro is as dated as black face.
"Magic Negro" might as well be replaced by what it really means, Uncle Tom. In the outrage over the distribution of the song many people have not looked at exactly where the phrase comes from. It is a cinematic terms for a kind, older, non-sexualized black man who plays a mentor role to a white protagonist. Think Will Smith's character in "The Legend of Bagger Vance". There is no legitimate defense of the phrase applied to barack obama. To label him thusly as the right does is deeply offensive to blacks and whites a like.
Would these same people be happy to have a song written about their wives calling them a "happy whore"? no. That would be completely out of bounds and offensive. Each of the labels Uncle Tom, Magic Negro, Happy Whore are all offensive to those who are characterized as such and should not be allowed. Its not funny. That RNC chair candidate Chip Saltsman thought that not only was it funny but that it was a great Christmas gift says a lot about where the Republican Party is.
"I think most people recognize political satire when they see it," Tennessee Republican Chip Saltsman told CNN. "I think RNC members understand that."
The republican party is facing the challenge of covering up their lily white party. As the NYT reported when discussing this story,
The dispute illustrates a larger Republican challenge in the months ahead: how to oppose the first black president without seeming antiblack. There are no black Republicans in Congress, and a party spokesman could name only 2 blacks among the 168 members of the national committee. Katon Dawson, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, resigned from an all-white country club in preparing for his campaign to be party chairman.
There is a deeply unsettling racist tinge to the republican party right now. Im not sure if this is a symptom or a cause of their relegation to a southern party but if they hope to grow back to a national party they need to rethink their racial attitude. Otherwise they risk looking just as dated as the black face minstrel show from Holiday Inn.