Bush And Black People

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Why weren't any networks willing to allow eloquent Black intellectuals to make Kanye's case that Bush is a racist? It wouldn't have been hard to prove. I would have started with the President's praising inept FEMA director Mike Brown five days into the disaster on September 2nd with, "Brownie, you're doing one heckuva job." This, while the whole country was still riveted to TVs saturated with image after image of the unrelenting suffering of thousands upon thousands of people who were mostly poor and Black. I would next point out Bush's sheer insensitivity in choosing to deliver a speech in front of a statue of Andrew Jackson, an inveterate racist best remembered as a sadistic slave owner

When an obviously upset and agitated Kanye West decided to depart from the script prepared for him during a nationally-televised fund-raiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina in order to lambaste President Bush, NBC quickly took him off the air and apologized, issuing a disclaimer stating that his opinions, "in no way represent the views of the network." Later that evening, when the program was re-run on the West coast, Kanye's comment was simply eliminated from the show entirely, as if it had never been spoken.

The incident reminded me of that pivotal scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy's dog, Toto, yanks back the drapes to reveal the fact that a mere mortal had been duping the citizens of Oz into following the imposing, false image of a demi-god. Despite being exposed as a fraud, the Wizard still attempted to save face, futilely ordering all to, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" While that critical event served as a transformational moment in the movie, in Kanye's case, those in control of the media immediately closed ranks to criticize the messenger, rather than examine the legitimacy of the concerns he had just raised. This lock step overreaction with Orwellian implications ought to scare anyone who believes in Freedom of Speech and who thinks that even unpopular points-of-view deserve to be debated on the airwaves.

Why did all the TV pundits, the pointy-headed chin-pullers of the electronic roundtables, rush to the President's defense to chastise Kanye West for remarks that most African-Americans at least agreed with. Why weren't any networks willing to allow eloquent Black intellectuals to make Kanye's case that Bush is a racist? It wouldn't have been hard to prove. I would have started with the President's praising inept FEMA director Mike Brown five days into the disaster on September 2nd with, "Brownie, you're doing one heckuva job."

This, while the whole country was still riveted to TVs saturated with image after image of the unrelenting suffering of thousands upon thousands of people who were mostly poor and Black. I would next point out Bush's sheer insensitivity in choosing to deliver a speech in front of a statue of Andrew Jackson, an inveterate racist best remembered as a sadistic slave owner and a brute who ordered the ethnic cleansing of thousands of Native Americans.

It is no coincidence that Nat Turner's and innumerable other rebellions transpired during the Jackson administration, given Old Hickory's repressive domestic policies when it came to the treatment of slaves. Furthermore, it is documented that he didn't cotton to their white sympathizers either. For he, like Bush today, offered only lame lip service about some never-arriving Federal assistance during a reign of terror when racist mobs were burning over 400 offices of the burgeoning abolitionist movement founded by William Lloyd Garrison to the ground.

Considered in this light, Kanye West's words did not deserve to be suppressed, but elaborated upon. I just hope it's not too late to prevent America from evolving into that long-feared, centralized totalitarian state where TV primarily functions as a powerful psychological tool designed to discourage dissent. If unchecked and allowed to feed the public the pabulum of socially-sanitized and heavily-censored, political programming, television will likely become an effective mind-control medium which eradicates free will and the innate human capacity for critical thinking. It's 1984 all over again.

Black Star columnist, attorney Lloyd Williams, is a member of the NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.
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