President Obama invites rapper to White House and causes uproar“The young people, who read this stuff, hear this stuff, are getting a very dangerous and deadly message.”
So who and what is David Jones, President of the American State Troopers Fraternal Association, referring to in this statement?
A document promoting terrorist attacks? A recorded message from an extreme activist group inciting and encouraging acts of hatred and violence?
No, although apparently it is something just as dangerous and damaging to society. Music – and in particular, song lyrics.
Damn those songwriters with their creativity, weaving their way through the impressionable minds of otherwise completely idiotic people (as we are clearly thought to be) and having an influential effect.
And the subject of this proclamation of outrage? Barack Obama’s seemingly insensitive (to the American police) invitation of rapper, Common, to the White House for a poetry evening on Wednesday 11th May.
Common has been criticised for the lyrical content of Song for Assata released on his 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate. Song for Assata documents the experience of African-American activist Assata Shakur, a member of the anti-racist, Black liberation group – the Black Panther Party. In 1973, Shakur was shot twice during a gun-fight between the activists and the New Jersey State Police. Shakur’s brother-in-law Zayd Malik Shakur (a fellow activist) and State Trooper Werner Foerster were killed in the conflict. Assata Shakur was convicted and incarcerated for the murder of Officer Foerster. She escaped from prison in 1979, amidst great controversy between her loyal supporters, who relentlessly protested her innocence – and the official account of the story. She has lived in political asylum in Cuba for almost 30 years.
Common’s Song for Assata portrays Assata Shakur as a devoted and innocent activist, fighting for survival after being criminalised and framed by the U.S. Government. He tells how Assata was shot from behind with her hands in the air before being subsequently beaten by police, denied legal representation and imprisoned. He goes on to describe the horrendous conditions of her 6 year imprisonment, including giving birth to her baby daughter and being separated from her, before she broke free and fled to Cuba.
New Jersey State Senator Anthony Bucco has also jumped on board to attack President Obama’s decision to invite Common to the poetry event by stating that the President should apologise to the New Jersey State Police as the rap stars lyrics are “praising the assassination of a state trooper.” So considering this and the statement made by Police union leader David Jones about the ”Ëœdangerous and deadly’ effect of Common’s lyrics on young people, I decided to look at Song for Assata in detail. After dissecting its content numerous times, my conclusion is that the police should consider employing Common rather than criticising him, because from what I can see, he is in possession of encryption skills that would baffle the FBI’s finest.
At absolutely NO point in the rap, does Common condone or encourage the assassination, or any other form of violence, towards police officers.
It’s sickeningly transparent and ever frustrating that the authorities continue to refer to any anti-authority art form which projects an oppositional point of view, as a method of manipulation rather than a form of expression, or perhaps more importantly – a declaration of truth?


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