Friday, January 02, 2009

Memphis Writer Defends His Controversial Song Creation: Barack The Magic Negro...

Memphis Writer Defends His Obama Parody
Shanklin Says Republican Criticism Is Misguided

By Lela Garlington

Video: A Version Of Barack The Magic Negro Song

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Memphis man who wrote and produced a controversial musical parody of President-elect Barack Obama says Republican infighting over the song is misguided.

Blaming what he calls "Washington politics," political satirist Paul Shanklin on Sunday defended his song, "David Ehrenstein's 'Barack the Magic Negro.' "

Shanklin also defended Chip Saltsman, the former Tennessee Republican Party chairman who created a stir recently when he mailed a CD containing Shanklin's song to colleagues.

Saltsman is among several candidates who want to become chairman of the Republican National Committee. Since the mailing went out, his candidacy is now under assault.

"They are trying to paint Chip as some kind of racist -- which he's not," Shanklin said Sunday afternoon.

"Whether he should have sent it out, I'll let history decide. Is it provocative? Well, most political satire is. What I do for a living is major league provocative."

Shanklin sings the parody to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon" by impersonating Rev. Al Sharpton. He based the song on an opinion piece by David Ehrenstein that ran in the Los Angeles Times. The lyrics include: "Barack the Magic Negro made guilty whites feel good/They'll vote for him and not for me/Cause he's not from the 'hood."

In addition to being a full-time contributor to Rush Limbugh's radio show, Shanklin is a part-time certified financial planner.

Saltsman, of Nashville, who managed Mike Huckabee's failed presidential bid, sent members of the GOP's national committee a holiday note along with Shanklin's satirical CD titled "We Hate the USA."

Saltsman is a former partner in Shanklin's record venture. In talking with The Hill newspaper, Saltsman was quoted as calling it a "light-hearted" gift that would be received in "good humor."

Current RNC Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, said in a statement carried by the Associated Press: "I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate as it clearly does not move us in the right direction." Duncan is seeking a second two-year term as GOP national chairman against Saltsman and four others.

"Apparently, Chairman Duncan doesn't listen to Rush Limbaugh or conservative Republicans out here in the hinterlands," Shanklin said as he listed Duncan's recent accomplishments: "Let's see, he's lost the presidency, the House and the Senate. I'm kinda shocked and appalled he's still there."

Shanklin credited Saltsman with laying the framework for how far the GOP has come in Tennessee. Saltsman, he said, "set a tone of leadership that got us" the state House and the state Senate. Under Saltsman as state GOP chairman, Shanklin said the Nashvillian made sure Republicans were running for state House and state Senate seats.

"Chip makes things happen regardless of what people think of my parody work," Shanklin said.

He doesn't know if Saltsman's action may ultimately cost him the chairmanship.

"Is it a faux pas?" Shanklin asked. "I'm not going to say it is. If they are extremely politically correct, then yeah, this is going to hurt him. But if they are into P.C., then nothing is going to save the Republican Party. ... We are trying to out-Democrat the Democrats."

Say what?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, told The New York Times in a Sunday story, "This is so inappropriate that it should disqualify any Republican National Committee candidate who would use it."

In the same article, another candidate, J. Kenneth Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state, and one of two African-American candidates, "dismissed the fuss as hypersensitivity. All competitors for this leadership are fine people."

-- Lela Garlington: 901-529-2349


See Also...

Origins Of Barack The Magic Negro:

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