[It looks like one of my most recent posts disappeared amidst the troubles with Blogger. Fortunately, I keep copies, so I shall repost it below, minus the links because I don’t have time right to embed them right now. Hopefully, the original post will reappear. Also, in response to a commenter whose comments on the original version have unfortunately vanished, I would just like to say that both your points are valid. Thank you.]
So, it seems that a rap musician who is apparently known by the name “Common” has been invited to some manner of poetry event at the White House. The Conservatives are upset by this, noting that he has a written a number of upsetting lines, and also once said that he “disagreed with mixed-race relationships”.
First of all, I should say I have never heard of this man before today. I have not heard any of his work, so I have no opinion about it. Secondly, I want to point out that I am not sure why the White House is holding a poetry event.
Common’s interracial dating comments suggest that he opposes black men dating white women. It seems to me highly unlikely that Obama endorses this view, for obvious reasons. But I’m sure the Conservatives will say that he is consumed with self-loathing. There is no way to prove this one way or the other, so I’ll let it alone.
Now as I said, I do not see the purpose of the White House holding poetry events. I’m sure there is some reason, but forgive me if I don’t immediately see the value in it. But if they are going to have poetry events, they ought to have good poetry. So, for fun, I tried to think of how some of my favorite writers of poetry would do on the background check:
- W.S. Gilbert (Sexist [not misogynist, though] and also probably a bit racist.)
- T.S. Eliot (Seems to have been anti-semitic)
- H.P. Lovecraft (Extremely racist, even by 1920s standards.)
- Edgar Allen Poe (Had some sanity issues)
- W.B Yeats. (Seems pretty clean)
None of them would fit in well. Now, obviously, times have changed; but then artists usually don’t fit in even in their own time, do they? My point is not that all good poets are racists or sexists, or to make excuses for these guys in any way. I’m trying to say, that, well, if I could somehow summon up my favorites for a reading, I would have to waive the background check.
Moreover, Common prefaced his point with this: “I don’t think there’s anything the matter with somebody loving somebody from another race,” which seems to indicate he may have misspoken in his subsequent statement.
[Originally published May 11th, 2011]