Saturday, May 14, 2011

Douglas Knickrehm: My take on the Rapper ‘Common’ Controversy

There are two separate things I’m going to address concerning the “Common Controversy”. The response by Fox News to this “controversy” was absolutely ridiculous. Different commentators made absurd claims all day long, but the outrage expressed by Karl Rove and Sean Hannity grabbed my attention the most. Rove calling Common a “thug” shows significant ignorance to today’s culture. I know you’re a busy man Mr. Rove, but if you would take an hour to hear one Common album you would learn he is the antithesis of a “gangster rapper”.

In fact, he is probably the most well-known “conscious rapper” in the industry. He has produced quality music for two decades, and provided social commentary with his intelligent lyrics and smooth delivery. I’m sure Karl didn’t actually take the time to learn about someone before he defamed his character. I would imagine Karl’s and Sean’s underlings found out a rapper was invited to the White House, looked up his most controversial lyrics, and the two conservative heavyweights used these as fuel for a red herring attack on Obama.

It’s a shame these Republican commentators are so shallow in their attacks on this “invitation”, not only because it will definitely hurt the Republican Party’s image with young, urban, and black voters, but because they missed the real opportunity to criticize this event. Hannity and Rove cast themselves as patriots and supporters of freedom; however, their reactions to this invitation contradict their images. Their dedicated fan base won’t be dissuaded of the two’s commitment to freedom, but more independent thinkers will take notice of the hypocrisy.

If these two wanted to make a valid complaint about this event it would go like this. We are running a deficit. We have something like 15 trillion dollars in debt, and another 50 to 70 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities! Why the fuck are we having poetry night at the White House? Is Barack paying out of pocket for this? Because if he is, then it’s his party so he can invite whomever he wants. Leave him alone. I highly doubt that is the case, and thus, from where are these funds coming?

This event is a complete waste of time, money, and controversy. It’s great Michelle wants everyone to know she’s cultured and cares about kids, but I think focusing on reforming/abolishing our out of control entitlement spending is a much more pressing concern. That being said, it’s tough to sell cuts to social services, when the President throws parties every month that would probably fit in the top tax bracket. Cutting federal services needs to be done. Entitlement and defense spending are bankrupting the nation and eroding our civil liberties. These are long term problems that need logical solutions.

While it will hardly dent the deficit, the White House should put a moratorium on all parties, dinners, and special events until we are out of debt. I don’t know about you, but when my money is low I live like it. The US government needs to start living within its means like the rest of us. And for those who want to argue that the National Endowment for Arts and other federal expenditures on art are necessary and must be funded, read “The Law” by Bastiat, and then give me a logical explanation why federal tax dollars should go towards this stuff. I doubt you’ll be able. Here’s the short version why: I like art, so you know what I do? I buy it with my own money. Spending other people’s money (that’s what tax dollars are) on something is hardly showing support or care for it. Thieves are usually the most generous people. If you really love art, poetry, music, etc., support the artists by paying for their work. Don’t steal from the public purse because you deem it “necessary”.

I am supposed to be writing about the controversy, not my political philosophy so I will conclude by focusing on Fox News. The Fox News establishment (referring to anyone propagating this nonsense on FNC) has serious problems with Obama, which is fine; however, when the network resorts to disparaging the president through the spread of misinformation about another man, it casts a world of doubt over the credibility of its reporting. It also leaves little wonder why many minorities believe the network is racist. I’m not calling FNC racist, but the network’s disdain for hip-hop certainly distances it from young people and minorities.

The US government has killed tens of thousands of people in its various armed conflicts over the past 20 years. Common has never killed anyone. Who are the real thugs? Common asks similar questions in some of his raps, and I think this is the real reason Conservatives deem him a thug. They pick and choose the most “alarming” lines to paint him as a radical threat to society. Let’s be honest, what’s really happening here is the establishment does not want to acknowledge or give Common’s arguments any merit so they are assassinating his character. They then take the negativity they’ve associated with Common to make an attack on the president’s “judgment”. This is superficial politics at its finest, and I think America is tired of it. Mr. Rove and Mr. Hannity, if you’re really concerned about the freedom of our citizens and prosperity of our nation, then make arguments grounded in logic please. Leave this trivial banter to the middle schoolers.

Ps: To Hannity, Rove, and most of all Bill O’Reilly: if you think Common is a problem check out my guy Tyler the Creator (whose new album Goblin dropped Tuesday cop it if you have not yet). He and OFWGKTA (look it up you have Google) have their own revolution brewing. I think the folks at Fox News would appreciate this song “Radicals”.

Ps 2: Common often has been critical of certain government institutions, presidents, policies, etc. in his music; however, he has not been as vocal during the Obama presidency. He seems like a smart guy, and should be able to tell there aren’t many differences between this administration and the last. If Common wants to continue to be respected as a “conscious” rapper, he needs to jump off the Obama bandwagon and see the atrocities still being committed by the current administration.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Doug Knickrehm lives in the Bronx, NYC where he is a student at Fordham University. He is a Libertarian whose issues of interest include race, economics, and drug laws.

He be reached at   or @beachousewishes on twitter

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