One of the benefits of the occasional really long work day is that I miss a lot of news, most of it (usually) inconsequential. On Wednesday, I apparently missed a whopper. It seems that Terrifying Black Family, the Obamas (make that Terrifying First Black Family), decided to host a little celebration of poetry that night and they invited a very controversial performer.
Of course, I’m talking about notorious left-wing radical Aimee Mann, whose songs about murdering police and killing white people tear at the very fabric of our nation.
Wait. Sorry. Had the wrong person there.
Apparently, the usual gang of right-wing fucktards got their collective knickers in a twist because rapper Common was among the performers at Wednesday night’s poetry event and the Scared/Angry White Right thinks that because Common may or may not believe that Mumia Whoever the Fuck is innocent (I disagree with Mr. Common, but do so respectfully because I am a rational human being who believes that we can disagree and still be friends), Barack Obama is the worst President ever for having him come to teach kids about poetry. Sarah Palin, who has used so much violent imagery in her political rhetoric that I want to shoot her in the face while screaming the word “Retard!” over and over again,* told fellow card-carrying Master Race member Greta Van Susteren that the decision to include Common in the evening’s proceedings “is just so lacking of class and decency and decency and all that’s good about America.” I am hoping that Van Susteren replied that “lacking in” would have been a better way to phrase that, but I’m too lazy to do the research.
As usual, Jon Stewart already responded better than anyone else could to this wild cracker hysteria. He quite correctly pointed out that Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and all these other dipshits were upset about the violence and misogyny they believe to be in Common’s lyrics, but were not outraged when Johnny Cash got some special commendation from George W. Bush. The number of songs Cash wrote and performed about killing people (including famously shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die) is almost as large as the number of people Bush got killed with his lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Almost. Sean Hannity even defended Ted Nugent’s saying that he told Barack Obama to “suck on my machine gun” (the Daily Show has clips of Ted Nugent literally saying this. This is a thing a grown-up actually said. As if it was meaningful. And other grown-ups cheered) by calling Nugent a “friend” – exactly the sort of friend Hannity doesn’t want Obama to have.
Stewart also very astutely pointed out that, as controversial rappers go, Common is about as dangerous as a glass of (educated chocolate) milk. I mean, there is that terrifying charity he started to help underprivileged kids have a chance in hell at making a life for themselves. And perhaps this is really the sticking point for the Fox News set (a network that, by the way, employs Watergate criminal G. Gordon Liddy, who frequently advocates shooting ATF agents in the head. My grandfather worked for the ATF and I’m pretty sure that, in a bare-knuckle boxing match, he could and would tear Liddy a new asshole) is that Common, like Barack Obama before him, is helping poor people – nay, poor minority people – to become educated. If they become educated, they might vote. And if they vote, they could possibly (only possibly) vote against the interests of rich, white pundits. Or vote to change the system entirely so that rich, white motherfuckers aren’t the only ones getting a piece of the pie in this country. The horror!
Or perhaps the right-wing types are simply trying to make up any controversy they can to tarnish the President’s image because they’ve realized that, with Donald “Long-Form Asshole” Trump leading the polls (or, if not leading, “having any unironic presence in the polls”), they have one of the weakest presidential candidate fields in human history heading into 2012. While I think that there is a fair amount of political gamesmanship involved here, I also think there is a lot of fear of black people and their hippity-hop music as well.
Hip-hop’s uneasy relationship with law enforcement stems from law enforcement’s history of beating the shit out of black people. It wasn’t the early 1800s when black people were attacked for trying to vote; it was barely fifty years ago. When it started, hip-hop was a way for an extremely marginalized population (inner city black people in America, and poor people all over Jamaica) to give voice to their concerns (there were not then and are not now poor people in Congress). I could suggest that Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin read Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang, but I know they won’t. If they did, they’d learn all about the struggles of millions of disgusting, poor minorities throughout history and about how hip-hop literally helped some of them survive.
At the end of the day, Common seems to have handled this thing with good humor, and the poem he performed was enormously positive (I haven’t found a video of the full performance, but you can read the transcript here). I’ve never been a huge fan of his music, but I certainly aim to give it another look now and, where possible, elect to put some money in the dude’s pocket. I strongly believe that anyone who irritates the most privileged, insane, and racist among us deserves some kind of compensation, if not a medal.
If you don’t want to buy Common’s albums, you can donate to the Common Ground Foundation and find out about volunteer opportunities here.
*Dear Right Wing Retards: this is a joke. I don’t actually want to shoot Sarah Palin in the face. I want her to go live in a cave somewhere and leave civilized, literate society the fuck alone. That is all.