Skip to comments.Is Limbaugh getting a free pass?
Posted on 05/18/2007 5:26:31 PM PDT by TexasCajun
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.
Did you listen to Rush today?
Is he from one of the lost tribes of Israel? :0)
I can’t believe this paper referred to Obamma as “Obama, the Magic Negro”. They are obviously racist and in light of what happened to Imus the writer of this article should be fired. I am discusted such racism is allowed to exist in a major newspaper in this day and age.
Keep this is mind - Rush owns his show.
No one can fire Rush - except Rush.
If he can miss the context, i can too.
Outrage over what? The fact that a black man called Obama the "magic negro"?
All in good fun, you dumbassinine liberal author with no funnybone!!! Ha Ha Ha!!!
This guy’s coming late to the party. There was “outrage” for about three hours until it was pointrf out that Rush was basically doing a paradoy of The LA Times, which had written an editorial calling Hussein Obama the “magic negro”
Of course, you can’t criticize the Left Wing Media, so the story died quickly.
Why anyone would pay a nickle for the Houston Chronic-Lib is beyond me. It is a disgrace that conservative Texas cities have nothing but the socialist-loving Austin UnAmerican Stateman, the Dallas Morning Enema, and this Houston rag to read. When they all go broke, it will be a great day for Texas.
Rush has been attacked and has paid. They never give him a free pass.
He just now knows how they will attack.
Just listened to it on the 24/7 side.
Getting a pass? Rush? They’ve been after him for years.
If the “Barack the Magic Negro” parody really disturbs them, perhaps they need to first get the Black Journalist from the L.A. Times that coined the phrase fired.
But..... couldn’t individual stations drop Rush if they wanted to, if he got too outrageous for them?
Then again, Rush is on about 600 stations. Even if a bunch bailed on him, he would still have good coverage.
Also, isn’t his show broadcast on the internet?
The internet and satellite radio may be the things that stop the nonsense of firing someone because they said something that somebody got offended by.
Talk about old news....Nowhere does this so called journalist say that the Limbaugh song is a PARODY of what the LASlimes and Ehrenstein wrote.
David Ehrenstein (born February 18, 1947, in New York City) is an American critic who focuses primarily on issues of homosexuality in cinema.
His writing career started in 1965 with an interview with Andy Warhol which was published in Film Culture magazine in 1966. Ehrenstein wrote for Film Culture until 1983. During the 1960s he also wrote for December and the Village Voice. In 1976 he moved to Los Angeles with his partner Bill Reed and began work as a film critic and entertainment journalist for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
Calling college women whores and crafting rape scenarios for the first lady and secretary of state are equivalent to making fun of a presidential candidate? Ain’t equality wonderful.
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