First Lady Michelle Obama has scheduled a poetry evening for Wednesday, and she’s invited several poets, including a successful Chicago poet and rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., AKA “Common.” However, Lynn is quite controversial, in part because his poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the “burn[ing]” of then-President George W. Bush.
Wow. Where should we begin?
If you're not familiar with the work of Common, formerly known as Common Sense and legally known as Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. then let's start there. While he has a distinctive political tint to his work, the predominant emotion from the preponderance of his work is love. Love for self, love for music, love for each other. He has eight albums. Go on, go through 'em, since this writer has already done so. He has a smattering of songs that carry any violent propensity at all. So to say that Common — who said in a song of himself, "got my SAG card, girl I'm an actor" and has appeared on screen alongside Christian Bale, Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe and UN ambassador Angelina Jolie — is "controversial" is at best spurious and at worst the lowest kind of name-calling. Let's start by invalidating the argument there.
Some people pointed out that Eric "Eazy E" Wright went to an event at the Reagan White House, but let's not get into that because he didn't perform. Instead, let's look at the core of their beef: claiming that Common's "poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the 'burn[ing]' of then-President George W. Bush." Their article includes a transcription of an appearance on Def Poetry Jam performing "A Letter To The Law" … that never actually says anything about shooting cops. In the piece, he says that he has a gun — constitutionally protected by the Second Amendment, so that's legit, and a cornerstone of Republican platforms from sea to shining sea. He says that cops would run from him because he has a gun, which is again not illegal. The worst thing you could accuse this piece of is claiming a deterrent, which is the cornerstone of US foreign policy. "We have nukes, don't mess with us." Moreover, I note that despite the large number of Common's lyrics available they offered nothing more than this one piece as "evidence" of him being "controversial" and unworthy of a West Wing audience … unless we're saying that a college educated Black man can't own a gun and make note of it for his own protection. Second thesis, invalidated.
Let's look at the idea that Common called for violence against a sitting president. Again, we head to Dictionary.com for a look at the phrase "in effigy" … lessee, they say, "a representation or image, especially sculptured … a crude representation of someone disliked, used for purposes of ridicule." Ever seen those things where somebody makes a simulacra of somebody or something and either beats it to pieces, throws mockery its way or — here's the one — burns it? Burns it in effigy? Does Common discuss assassinations, bullets, or any such thing? No. Burning Bush is much more likely — especially in the rhetorical realm of poetry, where, again, there is no overt threat of actual violence against any person — discussing an effigy. However, since studies show that education rates are lowest in Republican states, perhaps the concept of effigy wasn't included in the upbringing of these critics.
What's most enlightening is that the article (and the criticisms from the so-called "right wing") does nothing to contest the core arguments of Common's piece, which say, essentially, "the police unjustly visit violence upon our community, which is stupid with people like me because I am also armed." Common notes a number of violent instances against Black people that stand unanswered and uncontested by The Daily Caller. If such a high percentage of violence were visited on whatever gated community The Daily Caller calls home, the gun shows in the area would see record sales. That's only fair. That's what the hallowed founding fathers did. Moreover, isn't dissent patriotic? Done and done, that noise is outta here.
If the fallacies stopped at one site, it might be okay, but when our pals at Fox News get in the mix, well … how's this for a headline: "Michelle Obama Hosting Vile Rapper at White House?"
Hh. According to Dictionary.com, "vile" means, "wretchedly bad, highly offensive, unpleasant, or objectionable, repulsive or disgusting, as to the senses or feelings." Under what criteria could this brother be accurately called that? Well, if you didn't like Black people, that'd be easy to say. Ooh, or if you don't like rappers … many of whom exist in the public eye are Black. Oh, wait, Common attends Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church, which some find "vile" (despite never actually invalidating a single point made therein). Maybe that's their beef? Hard to say — they never qualify the term, bringing us back to name calling. Good when you're seven, sad when you're an adult.
Fox News' Matt Drudge repeated the fallacy, saying "First Lady to host rapper who talks of killing cops, burning Bush." Wanna know what's fun about that? A year and a half before, Fox News interviewed Common, with their reporter Jason Robinson saying, "your music is very positive. And you're known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?"
Overwhelmingly disproved. The interwebs have a term for this: "fail," although "hypocrisy" or "John McCain" might fit as well.
If there was only a sign, a clear way to guarantee that this furor is stupid … like, if there was one person who's almost never right, who's been proven to not know what she's talking about so many times in public that she makes Dan Quayle look like a Rhodes scholar … what's that? Sarah Palin supported the Daily Caller piece? A woman who can't remember her own talking points long enough to get on stage and writes them on her hand after dissing people using teleprompters? A woman who doesn't understand lots of the English language? She's like an inverse divining rod: if she thinks it's "right," it almost has to be wrong!
Common's own notes on his Twitter feed were pretty light hearted as friends like ?uestLove from the Roots poked fun at him for how non-dangerous he is. It's the best way to deal with such poorly-crafted criticism. Tomorrow night, he'll enjoy laughing about it in a White House they can't enter.
[Source: The Daily Caller]