It’s Only Satire If You Ignore the History

You would think that a party that has struggled to attract black voters would be extra careful when it comes to the distribution of material that could be construed as racist. That didn’t seem to be a concern for Chip Saltsman, who distributed a CD to RNC members that included the song, “Barack the Magic Negro.” Saltsman is a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party and a top adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; he most recently managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign. Click here if you haven’t heard the song. “I think most people recognize political satire when they see it,” Saltsman told CNN. “I think RNC members understand that.” Don’t get me wrong, I have a high threshold for political satire and for political comedy generally. That said, this little spectacle does nothing more than remind me of the sad history of how white Americans have used stereotypes as a means of racial control and as a means to maintaining a political system steeped in white supremacy. We can go back to Reconstruction for an example..

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or even to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Given that there are still plenty of people in this country who continue to hold tight to their racist beliefs it is inexcusable that a prominent member of the Republican Party would distribute such a song. It’s one thing if a lard ass such as Rush Limbaugh wants to play it on his idiotic radio show, but intelligent people with even a modicum of good taste ought to steer clear of what is potentially hurtful and insulting to many. What I find most striking is that this individual apparently didn’t think twice about the broader historical context into which such a song must be placed. And the RNC – the party of Lincoln and emancipation – wonders why they struggle to attract African Americans.

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation if you are so inclined. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

1 comment… add one

  • Toby Jan 5, 2009

    It is satire, but of a low and pretty stupid kind. When satire makes its purveyors look dumb and/ or undignifided (as this does), then they are just digging a hole for themselves.

    What is shocking is that a leading member of what was once (with pride) the “Party of Lincoln” would lend his name to such tripe.

    For good satire of a high standard, read Jon Swift’s blog.

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