Posted by: inforodeo | September 17, 2009

“Witch Doctor” Is Magically Racist?

     I may not be the best person to get this opinion from, after all, I’m not black, so I wasn’t aware that “witch doctor” was a racial slur.  Whenever I heard the term, I thought it meant something along the lines of “native folk-healer” , and any time I’ve heard it used as an insult, it’s meant along the same lines as “quack”  … that someone in the “medical field” was superstitious rather than scientific.  I hear a lot of “new age” holistic therapists described as “witch doctors”. 

     Visually, when I hear “Witch Doctor”, I think of old movies from the 1930’s and 1960’s, with the hero getting stranded on some desert island filled with cannibals.  This visual usually has a bone in their nose and shrunken skulls around their neck.

     Then there’s that 1950’s song by “David Seville” …

     It’s hard not to think about Obama being “black” because it is constantly in the news. Why? I have no idea. Race is not a qualification for the office of presidency … there is no “race test” … and scientifically we know that there is no superior race … White, Black, Asian … doesn’t matter. We’re all equally as stupid or as bright.

     Even so, I don’t recall ever – even to this day – spending even a second considering Obama’s abilities based on his race.  I can’t process race being a concern, no matter how hard I try. What I was concerned with was the junior senator’s poor (empty?) political record (his web page used to list all the bills, followed by “Absent”), and the few positions he had taken were mostly gun control positions that bothered me.  During the election, his use of slick propaganda and his powerful speaking style bothered me, as it did others, because it smacked of “personality cult”. It also bothered me that his team sent threatening letters to broadcasters in an effort to prevent them from airing truthful ads about his gun stance.  Since the election, it’s bothered me that his administration is brushing off the voice of the people, that his party is extending the power of the government, and that they are doing a “witch hunt” and trying to prosecute the prior administration, even at the risk of national security.

     And here race does start to come into the equation: to those of us who are not part of a minority of some sort, it seemed that Obama was quite discriminating in assembling his heavily liberal administration (as well as all the appointed “czars”) from only minorities – giving very few Caucasians or men positions of power.  His wife is even more blatantly racist (and her freakish perma-scowl kind of weirds me out), and it didn’t help any that Obama jumped into the ridiculous debate over the white police officer arresting Skip Gates, calling the police “stupid”.

     I think, then, that after months of being forced to discuss race, and then watching as their own race is systematically accused of “racism” anytime there is friction of any kind, some whites – very, very few, in fact – have began to growl a little.  It is important to note, however, that those who are racist already were racist … nothing would have changed that … but they are gaining ground (feeling “justified” in their hatred) because of the racial division and prejudice that the Obama administration has brought.

     During the election, whites who didn’t plan on voting for Mr. Obama were accused of racism.  Last week, a politician who challenged Obama’s words by saying “You lie!” was accused of racism.  I don’t understand these accusations.  Do people really believe that every time a white person disagrees with a black person it is a racially motivated disagreement?

     Now there is this “Witch Doctor” thing.  I can’t say that no person wielding the sign is racist. Maybe some are. The image, however, is not racist. 


     “Witch Doctors” are equated with “medicine men” or “snake oil salesmen”.  They represent a superstitious power related to cures. They represent a part of culture that believes in a supernatural power. “Curiously”, the archetype of a “witch doctor” is not unlike that of a charismatic man standing before society and telling them to have faith in an unproven remedy so they can be cured of their ills.  In a “primitive society”, any man who might stand up to the witch doctor and break the magic by calling into question his supernatural remedy would be banned or killed. Such was the faith in a culture who used witch doctors that a witch doctor could also sometimes see the future and command that he be given a portion of each villager’s goods so that evil unseen forces could be diverted from the village, sparing them.

     Perhaps this other image – implying the very same thing – would have required a little further stretch to fulfill the accusations of racism:


     It is really the exact same thing.  These images are not of race, they are of a man promising a magical cure, a cure that hasn’t been tested, but when tried by current scientific theory and existing data looks like it might not really work. 

     To continue injecting “race” into everything is to keep prejudice, bigotry, and segregation alive.  It distracts from the real incidents of hate crimes, and mocks those who fought for civil rights.


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