I was so hoping that we had moved beyond certain backwater behaviors, that some how we as a people had gotten beyond certain things in our lives that hold us back from reaching our own potential and allowing all others to reach the potential within themselves.
How wrong I was …
I’ve been following the controversy over Rick Warren – fed in part by Rachel Maddow (who might be heading down the road of becoming the Ann Coulter of the left). I’d been reading about Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich being guilty and defiant at the least of idiotic conversations and possibly more.
But these paled in comparison to the stories about Republican Chip Saltsman, a candidate for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee distributing as CD titled “We Hate the USA” and includes songs referencing former presidential candidate John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.
According to The Hill, other song titles were: “John Edwards’ Poverty Tour,” “Wright place, wrong pastor,” “Love Client #9,” “Ivory and Ebony” and “The Star Spanglish Banner.”
The big main song according to reports was “Barack, the Magic Negro.” (to the tune of “Puff, the Magic Dragon)
Saltsman’s lame excuse was “political satire” and “I think RNC members understand that.”
Sorry sir ~ They might, I do not. It certainly didn’t make it any easier when I found out that the Rush Limbaugh ‘s radio show had played it first back in 2007. While this is the kind of racist behavior I would expect from Rush and gang, for someone who wants to be considered a serious contender for Chairmanship of the ailing RNC and the ailing party, it certainly was not one of the better ideas he might have had.
The song had it’s genesis in an article by David Ehrenstein (who’s Father was a Jew and Mother an African American with white Irish roots) who often writes about homosexuality in cinema and in the article talks about the “magic Negro” of cinema and somehow Mr. Ehrenstein makes the leap from the silver screeen to the politcal stage. You can read the article —>here<— And he certainly would have been upset if someone had written about the "Magic Jew" problem…given his ethnic background.
All this was coupled with realizing that we as a people, have NOT really progressed to where we should be in this day and age ~ and I’m including BOTH sides of the ethnic divide. I hear African Americans say things in public that if someone else were to say them would cause immediate backlash of all kinds. I have gotten e-mails from people I really love containing Obama jokes that not only are tasteless, but border on racist. These kind of things hold someone up to ridicule and show how little we hold them in regard.
SIDE BAR: I need to say here that I do understand satire and political satire…those are both vibrant and valid forms of expression and speech. What is involved here is neither. Satire really doesn’t work when it only involves characteristics that someone can no change. For example, Barack Obama can NOT change the color of his skin or his ethnic heritage. Jokes about either are not satire..they are more the old saying of “keeping the uppity in their place.” (THAT ring a bell for anyone around in the 60;s?) The fact that Prince Charles ears are rather large and obvious serves as “quick identification” in satire, but if was the only thrust of the story or sketch would not be satire, but rather cruelty.
If goes back to what I have written about before, this kind of behavior simply allows “us” a sense of “control” over the person we have labled as “the enemy.” And allows “us” to label them, put them in a box and decide how all behavior toward them will be.
All it does is belittle, cut down and move toward humiliation of people. And for those that are listening (especially children or youth), they form the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable to behave in a similar manner. And why shouldn’t they? After all they see/hear the actions, speech and “satire” , so it must be alright. It must be “cool.”
This reminded me of the lyrics of “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” from South Pacific and I think they are more true today than when they were written:
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
Dear Lord ~ January 20th can’t come soon enough and according to a poll just released 75% of the people asked can hardly wait for the 20th as well!!!