Originally posted in July of 2010
Updated with the Opie Sirius Show in November 2014
Updated Today, February 2017
While much of it deals with comedy and race… the underlying this is once special rights are created for “classes of people” rather than ALL people… you start to get adoption agencies shut down, business owners forced out of business by government, and countering groups fighting each other in society and in court.
The Blaze notes that “when Behar claimed that Limbaugh refers to President Barack Obama as the ‘magic negro,’ Norton still pushed back. The phrase made its way to Limbaugh’s radio show in the form of satirical song written by political satirist Paul Shanklin.
The song came after Los Angeles Times critic David Ehrenstein first linked Obama to the magic negro, a ‘figure of postmodern folk culture’ who serves to ease racial tensions.” There seems to be a lot of piling on Rush Limbaugh for a parody song, Barack the Magic Negro, based off of a black writers L.A. Times article (he is pictured below, hint – he is not the Asian guy).
I figure these people do not allow satire unless by John Stewart or SNL? Parody songs have been on Rush’s show for years, while I typically do not listen to him (Dennis Prager is on at the same time), I have caught a few songs here-and-there. The only reason I wish to deal with this now is I keep seeing it pop-up as a dig against Rush as a racist (implied either implicitly or explicitly) when the author of the idea — a black man — is not mentioned at all. It seems odd to me. So here is part of that L.A. Times article, followed by some Wikipedia info:
Obama the ‘Magic Negro’: The Illinois senator lends himself to white America’s idealized, less-than-real black man
AS EVERY CARBON-BASED life form on this planet surely knows, Barack Obama, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, is running for president. Since making his announcement, there has been no end of commentary about him in all quarters — musing over his charisma and the prospect he offers of being the first African American to be elected to the White House.
But it’s clear that Obama also is running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination — the “Magic Negro.”
The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. “He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist,” reads the description on Wikipedia.
He’s 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….
In this article, Ehrenstein references a Wiki article on the subject. I wonder where the outrage is for others mentioned at this site? Or does the term mean something different:
….African-American filmmaker Spike Lee popularized the term, deriding the archetype of the “super-duper magical negro” in 2001 while discussing films with students at Washington State University and at Yale University.
The magical negro is a subset of the more generic numinous negro, a term coined by Richard Brookhiser in National Review. The latter term refers to saintly, respected or heroic black protagonists or mentors….
Another L.A. Times article, Redefining “black”, mentions that maybe Barack Obama is not black enough. (NewsBusters wrote on this.) In this article the relationship between immigrants from Africa and the Americanized black culture is highlighted. They talk of the following issues: “Among African Americans, discussions about his racial identity typically vacillate between the ideologically charged options of ‘black’ versus ‘not black enough’ or between ‘black’ and ‘black, but not like us’.”
When special categories are created, law ceases being equal
This was discussed on the Colbert Report, in which the guest was very serious about this, to which Colbert had a field day with…
Of course there are other great skits worth mentioning based on this as well:
Mixed Race Flow Chart
Obama’s “Blackness” Scale
All these parodies tap into this “in-house-discussion” (in the Black Community), as well as the historical “Magic Negro” concept that has its essence in a hero aspect of the black man.
~ context, context, context ~
CONTEXT IS KING
I suggest to the more serious reader one of my favorite authors and intellectuals, Thomas Sowell and his book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals. (Thomas Sowell happens to be a “Magic Negro” to me, a hero to emulate my intellectual life after.) A great read in understanding this topic in a scholarly way. If you do not want to purchase the book, order it at Barnes and Noble (if it isn’t in stock) and read the first chapter, “Black Rednecks and White Liberals,” in the store and do not purchase it (you are allowed to view books before purchasing them). Another great book is White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, by Shelby Steele.
To conclude, here is political correctness and the “offended generation” at its best, and then warping it to use against whom they dislike (Sarah Silverstein — whom I dislike but think free speech is key to our country as well as comedy):
More about the Political Correctness chill on comedy from REASON:
Can We Take a Joke, a feature-length documentary about stand-up comedy, “outrage culture,” and censorship is now available for digital download on iTunes, Google Play, and on-demand through most major cable providers. The film was directed by former Reason TV producer Ted Balaker and co-produced and co-written by yours truly.
The reviews already have begun to roll in, with the LA Times saying that “Can We Take a Joke? poses a valid question at a juncture when freedom of speech is a hot topic,” and The Hollywood Reporter writes that the film delivers “sobering commentary” and “strongly makes the case that we’ve all got to get over ourselves.”
The movie features several stand-up comedians who’ve had unpleasant encounters with the online outrage mob, including Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Norton, and Gilbert Gottfried, who famously lost his job as the voice of the AFLAC duck after he sparked outrage on social media after making Twitter jokes about the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
“When people are outraged, they’re also patting themselves on the back,” says Gottfried. “Like, ‘Hey, I’m a good person. I was outraged.'”
Everyone, of course, has the legal right to be offended and the right to demand the firing of comedians for telling jokes. The First Amendment only protects against the government censorship of ideas, not corporate or mob censorship. But the film argues that the very idea of “free speech” requires more than simply government protection of the press.
“The First Amendment, although it’s necessary, it’s not sufficient. It has to rest on a social foundation of First Amendment values,” says Jonathan Rauch, scholar at the Brookings Institute and author the book Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. “Once you get into the business of saying you are going to prohibit things you find offensive or wrongheaded, that’s where the most sensitive person in society gets to determine what all the rest of us can hear.”…