Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dumb and dumber and dumberer

First lady Michelle Obama's poetry and prose event Wednesday evening at the White House was intended to "showcase the impact of poetry on American culture."

The organizers got more than they bargained for, however, when one invited guest, hip-hop artist Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., aka Common, came under fire this week from conservatives, including Sarah Palin and Karl Rove, for lyrics alluding to violent acts against police and former President George W. Bush.

The controversy was fanned by the conservative website The Daily Caller, which published some of his lyrics, and by Fox News, which used the phrase "vile rapper" in characterizing the performer.

In one rhyme, Common says to "tell the law my Uzi weighs a ton." He also characterizes the Iraq War as being about oil rather than weapons of mass destruction: "Burn a Bush 'cos for peace he push no button."

It's dumb to invite a rapper to a poetry evening and not expect controversy.

It's dumber to go over every word in every song looking to be offended by something you hadn't previously noticed.

And, it's dumberer to respond by blaming the criticism on racism.

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