So when Fox News lost it’s collective mind way back in 2002 over Pepsi hiring Ludicris, we all giggled and shook our heads in disbelief, especially over the idea that Ludacris would be portrayed by anyone as a gangster rapper; even a right-winged wing-nut like Bill O’Reilly, but I still think most of us just thought it was funny. But this time around Fox News and the rest of their Conservative on-air and on radio minions have it so wrong, it’s pretty – well, ludicrous.
I’m talking of course about this week’s flap from the right over the White House inviting rapper Common to their American celebration of poetry and prose, which also will reportedly feature the likes of Jill Scott, and Alison Knowles. Apparently anxious to do anything to turn the tide of popularity away from Obama after his stunning surprise killing of the world’s number one terrorist, the right-wingers couldn’t do any better than rabidly attacking one of the most popular, prolific, socially conscious rappers in the game. Too funny.
Sean Hannity has the loudest bull-horn, and has used it most vehemently over the last couple of days to sling words around like ‘disgusting’, and ‘vile’ in relation to Common. He’s played clips from past poetry performances, using select passages to drive home the point that Common is hell bent on killing policeman and wants former President George W. Bush killed in cold blood over leading us into the Iraq war. Heavy sigh.
It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise intelligent people can dumb themselves down so completely in order to score whatever media-driven, political, or social point they seek to make. I mean, come on – a simple Google search by any of the lunatics at Fox News, or even one of their interns would tell the true story about Common, who was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. He has always, always been socially responsible, spiritual in his message, and most importantly, a strong opponent of what Wikipedia called ‘gangsterism’ in rap music. Period.
So what of Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and the likes? Why go so far overboard trying to paint a picture of Common that is just plain inaccurate? Political desperation, sprinkled with liberal amounts of racism, that’s why. I HATE throwing down the race card like this, but someone has to do it. And it’s not the kind of racism you might think – it’s not overt, and in your face, and it’s not just about Common being black. It’s much more insidious than that. It’s the kind of racism that seeks to de-legitimize the importance of the African American experience, and not just who we are as African Americans.
The fact of the matter is, Common is a poet, the same kind of artisan as Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye were in their day. These men both made music that told the stories of their time, recounted the struggles of their generations, sometimes using what were considered strong themes that made some uncomfortable. Common is no different – his music and his poetry is thought provoking, timely, and meaningful; no matter how you slice it, the man simply cannot be considered a gangster rapper, not in any shape or form. And yet, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the right have spent the last 24 hours or so since it was announced that Common would be performing at the White House trying their damndest to characterize him as just that. A big, scary, black man, who stays up until all hours of the night, writing endless lyrics about the extermination of the white race, or who would, given the chance carry the blonde-haired blue eyed little daughters of their listeners off into the night – they’re purposely trying to create a Boogey-man where none exists. And it’s racist. Really, really, racist.
It’s okay to not like Common’s music – it’s okay to question the kind of event the White House is sponsoring, you know – claim that the President should have better things to do. But it’s not alright to take the lifelong body of work of an artist who by all accounts has done nothing but good in his career and try to turn it into the second coming of Charles Manson. Especially in an age where their are crazies out there who see any criticisms Fox News levels against anyone they disagree with as a call to violence. Screaming at the top of your lungs on your nightly television show that someone, anyone, wants to kill cops and maybe the President of the United States is foolish, and dangerous, and wrong.
Luckily, this too shall pass; Sarah Palin will get back to pretending she’s relevant, Sean Hannity will move on to the next thing he can drum up to try and make President Obama look bad, and hopefully Common (with his fine self) will continue making incredible music, and cool action flicks. I guess I took this one personally – I love Common, always have, and I love what he’s matured into. Never one to turn down an opportunity to catch a glimpse of him, I guess I should thank Sean and his crazed network for shoving him into the national spotlight. I just hope all of their gun-totin’, race-baiting, trigger-happy listeners were tuned into something else while Sean was ranting and raving. I don’t want a hair that might be somewhere on that gorgeous bald head touched.