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 http://en.-wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro .
Where to begin, where to begin?
First of all, anyone can put anything on Wikipedia. It's good for basic shortcuts to explain things quickly. But as a valid source of real and true information, it must be held into question. I have never heard of the myth, personally. I have never heard of it spoken of, before now. (That doesn't mean it hasn't been around before now, I just haven't heard of it.)
Secondly, despite what many may believe, there is a storm brewing in the Democratic Party. This was supposed to be Hillary's moment in the sun. And then, here comes this bright young man that defies stereotypes and myths, has an certain outsider status, can raise money, and has a following already in place just by making an announcement. Sure, she is leading him by a goodly amount. But on the other hand, he's on her heels and she doesn't like it one bit. For this reason, one must expect there will be some animosity developing, as evidenced from some of the tactics being used.
Recently, I posted this piece for which I drew some pretty sharp rebukes. It deals with the Obama "madrassa story" and despite the time that has passed, we still cannot rule out Hillary's camp as a source. A carefully placed leak into the hands of FOX News got that ball rolling. And even though it was later debunked, the seed of doubt was planted.
Then, there was this leak to the NYT about some potential influence-peddling by Obama, whereby, Hillary's camp could be the source. But, there is a lack of hard evidence to support this. And again, the seed of doubt has been sewn.
Along with this ridiculous essay printed by the LAT, there has been an unauthorized campaign ad released on the internet. The media seem to be scurrying to find the source of this one, but so far has been unable to do so. I heard one person theorize that it was Hillary herself. Why? So she could blame Obama. Now, I am not that cynical, nor am I inclined to believe Hillary would do a hit on herself just so she could paint Obama as a dirty campaigner. But, there is another possibility people are overlooking in these early hit jobs.
Who would benefit greatly if there was a bloody primary fight that threatened the unity of the party? If the party was greatly divided along the racial lines that this campaign is so far moving toward, who would be there to pick up the pieces to save the party from themselves? The answer should not be so hard to figure out. In the dog eat dog world of politics, one cannot rule out these things as being the work of those that still hope Al Gore will step up to the plate, if there is much dissension within the ranks of the Democrats.
Far-fetched? Maybe, but maybe not. Hillary and Obama are busy raising money while battle lines are being drawn, in both subtle and not so subtle ways. As the campaign wears on, the divide will grow. And with hit jobs like the LAT piece calling Obama "The Magic Negro", it clearly demonstrates that unity along racial lines is very much at stake.