“Puff” Writer: “Magic Negro” Song Shocking

Folk singer Peter Yarrow has broken his silence about the Republican Christmas CD featuring the parody song "Barack the Magic Negro" -- saying the song is "not only offensive, it is shocking and saddening in the extreme."

Yarrow, who co-wrote "Puff the Magic Dragon" with Lenny Lipton, expressed his disgust on the Huffington Post.

"The sending of a Christmas greeting by Chip Saltsman to the members of the Republican National Committee that includes a recording of the so-called parody, "Barack the Magic Negro" is not only offensive, it is shocking and saddening in the extreme," Yarrow wrote. "It flies in the face of America's deeply held hope for a new era in which common ground and mutual respect characterize the exchanges between our national leaders."

Yarrow, of the '60s band "Peter, Paul and Mary," noted that he and Lipton "have been eagerly awaiting an end to the mean-spiritedness, outright disrespect and bigotry that was commonplace prior to this last presidential election."

"It is almost unimaginable to me that Chip Saltzman who sent the CD, would seriously be considered for the top post of the Republican National Committee. Puff, himself, if asked, would certainly agree."

On Saturday, the chairman of the Republican National Committee also said he was "shocked and appalled" that Saltsman, one of his potential successors, had sent committee members the CD.

Puff the Magic Dragon

Saltsman, a former Tennessee GOP leader, has said party leaders should stand up to the criticism. He earlier defended the tune as one of several "lighthearted political parodies" that have aired on Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

Saltsman, who managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, is seeking the RNC chairmanship. During the presidential campaign, GOP officials denounced efforts by those in the party who criticized or mocked Democratic nominee Barack Obama along racial lines. Obama was vying to be the nation's first black president.

The ditty by conservative comedian Paul Shanklin refers to a March 2007 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by David Ehrenstein headlined "Obama the 'Magic Negro.'" In the article, Ehrenstein argued that voting for Obama helped white voters alleviate guilt over racial wrongs in the past.

Among other Shanklin tunes on the 41-track CD that Saltsman sent with a Christmas message: "I Can Talk Like a Coal Miner's Daughter," ''Love Client ‥9" and "Down on the Farm with Al Gore."

"Barack the Magic Negro" calls into question Obama's racial identity. Born to a black father and white mother, the president-elect was raised primarily by his white grandparents.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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