Spike Lee popularized the term “Magic Negro”, 15 years ago as a way to describe the noble black guy character so popular in movies. Richard Brookhiser probably deserves credit for describing the concept in this piece from 2001. It may go back much further, but I have not found anything further back than last decade. Jim from Huckleberry Finn may be the first appearance of this character in American fiction.
I’ve taken to calling black people “sacred people” because of the widespread embrace of this literary concept of the magic negro. It’s a lot like how middle aged women will get into Native American spirituality or Chinese medicine. It’s a weird form of worship based on ethnicity, that is wholly untethered from the reality of ethnicity.
Anyway, this came to mind when I saw this post on National Review the other day. The author and many of the commenters are falling all over themselves to praise Ben Carson and his immigration plans.
With respect to “cutting off the goodies,” there are a number of “goodies” that are all but impossible to cut off. As I’ve noted, many illegal immigrant households receive welfare benefits through American-born children. There is no realistic way to withhold those entitlements. With respect to the illegal immigrant population residing in the U.S., Carson’s plan does seem far more practicable than Trump’s (which, it is worth noting, was not in the immigration plan released by his campaign). But it’s not clear whether Carson’s alternative will be amenable to conservative voters.
If you read Ben Carson’s book, he makes clear he is in favor of wholesale immigration. He also makes clear that he has not thought much about the issue so he just repeats the things he heard on TV because they sound nice. His repeated call for a guest worker program, suggest he does not know there are two dozen guest worker programs in place right now.
Carson’s immigration statements are mostly gibberish. In fact, his positions on everything make little sense. He claims blacks are arrested for driving while black and largely agrees with the claims about police mistreatment of blacks. This is the sort of stuff you see on TV, not the sort of stuff you see when looking up the facts. In other words, Be Carson is not very well informed.
No one dares say this, of course, because that would be bad, very bad. In fact, not gushing over the man is very bad too. The only appropriate response to Ben Carson is to compete with everyone else complimenting him on his wonderfulness. Conventional conservatives are going through what Progressives went through eight years ago. They think they have found their Black Jesus.
In fairness to Carson, I don’t think he is playing it that way, but he is riding the wave for now. He does strike me as a decent man with good intentions. I have no idea if he is really as nice as he appears on TV, but I have found nothing to suggest otherwise. By now someone would have come forward if Carson had a dark side or a bunch of skeletons in his closet.
None of which changes the fact that he is where he is because he is a black guy being nice to conservatives. If he were an Irish guy with the same resume and presentation, he would be this guy or this guy. No one would have any reason to know him and friends would assume he has lost his marbles. But, he is a sacred person and that means he gets to be on the big stage running for president.
Unintentionally, Carson is proving a point the revolting have been making for a while now. That is, Conservative Inc.is just the dull-witted little brother of the Progressives, tagging along behind them, imitating whatever they do. The Left got their magic negro in 2008 and the Right gets their magic negro in 2016. The fact that neither man has any business being in the White House is off-limits because only bad thinkers say such things.
The shame of it is that Carson is a great story, regardless of his race. He should be running for Senate right now in Maryland. Having a smart guy who knows about the medical system in America, serving in the Senate would be good for the country. Baltimore City, where he lives, is in need of a mayor and in need of a sober sensible man to address that city’s troubles. Carson could probably do a lot of good in either of those roles.
Instead, he has been carried up on multicultural thermals purely for the pleasure of the chattering classes looking for grace on the cheap. Inevitably, they will tire of him and he will be replaced by some other novelty. Multiculturalism is the B-side of racism, in that it addresses the same emotional itch. The object in both cases is stripped of their humanity and they become nothing but a means to an end.