COMMENTARY | It could be another case of the White House falling down on the vetting process or perhaps first lady Michelle Obama just doesn’t care. But apparently she will host gangsta rapper Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., aka Common at a poetry evening.
According to the Daily Caller, the star attraction at the White House poetry corner has composed verses about the joys of shooting police officers and burning President George W. Bush. Emily Dickenson or Lord Tennyson, Common is not.
“With that happening, why they messing with Saddam?
Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button
Killing over oil and grease
no weapons of destruction
How can we follow a leader when this a corrupt one”
Mind, first lady Obama might have been a little more careful about inviting an “artist” whose work involves calls for murder and mayhem, especially of a president. Either explanation for allowing such a person as Common anywhere near the White House, incompetence or viciousness, is equally alarming.
White House patronage of poetry has certainly gone downhill since President John F. Kennedy invited the great New England poet Robert Frost to read his work at his inauguration. Indeed Maya Angelou’s horrid bit of doggerel performed at the first Clinton inauguration is practically Shakespearean next to the verses filled with violence by Common.
The problem may be how the self-described sophisticated approach poetry. It times past, poetry, just visual art, was meant to inspire or to exalt. Poetry was supposed to be beautiful, to show truths about reality that enlighten and images that bring joy.
No longer. The much abused and overused quality of “authenticity” is now more valued in poetry than are truth and beauty. Common’s verses may be filled with as much hate as they are with spelling errors, but they are supposed to be “authentic” in some way about the black experience. Never mind that most blacks do not dream of busting caps into cops or of setting a president of the United States on fire.
One of the unofficial roles of a first family is to be a patron of the arts. The Kennedys did this rather well, bringing a sense of style to the White House. First lady Laura Bush sponsored book festivals in which great writers were featured. This sometimes irritated left wingers, such as the time Mrs. Bush wanted to have her own poetry evening that would feature people like Emily Dickenson and Walt Whitman, people who are now on the outs.
Surely, though, Mrs. Obama can find someone better to sponsor than a common (pun intended) gangsta rapper.
Source: ‘Burn a Bush’? Michelle Obama invites rapper Common to a poetry reading, Neil Munro, The Daily Caller, May 9, 2011