I’ve read quite a few intellectually dishonest articles in my day, but never one so blatant in its intent than that of The New Republic’s John McWhorter’s piece, “A Hip-Hop Enthusiast in Defense of White Power Music.”
The article begins as follows:
“It has been fashionable in the wake of Wade Michael Page’s tragic acts in Wisconsin to speculate on whether the White Power music he listened to helped stoke him into the senseless murders he committed. Such speculations, however, are as incoherent as they are pointless—and they are marked, above all, by a cloying air of self-congratulation.
“A comparison with another musical genre helps put the debate into relief.”
You can probably see where this is going.
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There is little doubt that McWhorter is a brilliant man and when he hits the mark on an issue, he hits it with sharp precision. Still, primarily recognized as a Black neo-conservative who has defended Pizza magnate, Herman Cain, as being an authentic southern, Black man who has a right to shuck and jive on a public stage if he so chooses, he is also the man who labeled “Cornbread’s” particular brand of bigoted comedy “traditional” Black humor:
“Cain has been regularly employing on the campaign trail a particularly black rhetorical comic style, one that involves a certain cartoonish, and fantastic treatment of violence. This is the tradition he was drawing on, for example, when he called for a border fence that would electrocute Mexicans.”
Yeah, hilarious stuff…if you’re a racist moron.
Still, McWhorter has managed to surpass even himself in his latest article that actually comes to the defense of White Power music and equates it to Hip-Hop.
Wade Michael Page, the gunman who stormed into a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, was a fan of White Power music and it has been heavily speculated that the genre encouraged his rage the day of the massacre that ended in so much senseless tragedy.
“If you are playing white power music … you are learning how to hate people and you are practicing emotional violence against them. Tragically, what happened Sunday was the logical conclusion of this hate and violence,” said former white supremacist Arno Michaels, the founder of Life After Hate.
I absolutely agree, but here comes McWhorter to defend the trash with false equivalency:
“Those who listen to rap—including myself—are not passively consuming its message, but actively seeking it as a release. Indeed, last I heard, the enlightened take on rap lyrics is that their violence must be taken not as counsel but as poetry, poses of strength from disenfranchised people—“Black Noise” as Brown’s Tricia Rose calls it. Other academics, priding themselves on their connection with the music, crown the makers of violent rap as “Prophets of the Hood” (Imani Perry, Princeton) or “Hoodlums” (William Van Deburg, University of Wisconsin), the latter meant as an arch compliment to men celebrated for speaking truth to power.
“And there is more than a little bit of truth to this treatment of rap’s violent strain. It is, indeed, an attitude that functions as a response to the frustrations of everyday life. In that light, rapademics have been fond of noting that old-time “toasts” among black people had their violent strains as well. Despite the prevalent anxieties in the 1990s about the social consequences of rap music, evidence that the music causes actual violence never actually surfaced.
“In this light, we must ask why ugly White Power music should be thought of as any different. Certainly it must help bond adherents of the movement. But the proper question is: If the music didn’t exist would fewer adherents decide to attack people? The evidence here is nil. For example, one might note that in this country, overtly racist violence was a commonplace throughout the South up to about 1970 without the need for a music genre to keep its practitioners stoked, much less an Internet to broadcast it. The men who killed Emmett Till in 1955 weren’t stoked up by music telling them what to do.”