I’m going to make some points about the lesser controversies (namely the lyrics issue) surrounding the invitation of rapper/poet “Common” to the Whitehouse, because John Nolte has the larger controversies that were completely ignored by Jon Stewart pretty well covered.
One thing that stuck out to me in Stewart’s attempted takedown of Fox News (or “epic takedown” if you’re a Mediaite straight news guy: notice how the first linked article is entirely opinionated but not distinguished as such as Mediaite claims to do, and the second glosses over convicted cop-killer and FBI-classified domestic terrorist Assata Shakur, aka Joanne Chesimar — also a hero to Common as an “alleged” cop killer). It was the equivalence Stewart attempted to draw between Johnny Cash and Common. Stewart showed George Bush presenting the National Medal of Arts to Johnny Cash (who had written some rough lyrics in his day as well) and then asked emphatically, “What’s the difference?! What’s the difference?!” The answer Stewart was getting at was as subtle as the CB4 rap he played the next day (yeah, this actually exists. I couldn’t stop singing it either):
[youtube WFY2kJ96jNY nolink]
Stewart is unsurprisingly asserting that anyone who objects to Common’s Whitehouse invite is either racist or trying to influence people who are, and are holding different standards to Bush’s and Obama’s choice of honorees. But Stewart’s first deception is that while the National Medal of Arts is presented by the President, honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the Arts, not the Whitehouse, so it was not Bush’s decision at all.
More importantly, see if you can find another difference in the two artists and two situations:
If the only difference Jon Stewart can see between the two is skin color, then Stewart is the one who can’t see beyond race. Johnny Cash was 70 years old and a year short of his death when he was presented the National Medal of Arts. He wasn’t exactly influencing or seeking to influence America’s youth with his art at the time, and it had been decades since he had written any songs about killing anyone. Even when Cash was younger and exploring some rougher themes in his music, while he did have appeal to adolescents, I’m not aware of him trying to bring Elmo-watching kindergarteners into his fan base (same goes for Ted Nugent). I’m also unaware of the songs he wrote or examples in which Cash celebrated actual cop killers (as opposed to merely adopting the voice of one artistically). Regardless, Cash was heavily frowned upon by most of polite society in his youth (regardless of his skin color), and would never have been honored by a President at the height of the rough and rowdy part of his career.
On the other hand, Common seeks to have a very large influence on even very young children (particularly African American Children), yet openly celebrates actual cop killers and “Black Power” icons like former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal and opposes interracial marriages.
Most conservative objections to bad public behavior, particularly in artwork, stem from the concern of their influence on children. Unlike some other early to mid twenty year olds with elite educations and no children, I know better than to lecture and insult actual parents on issues of parenting (especially on Mother’s Day … what an ugly week for Mediaite), but even I can understand that children are very easily influenced and thrive on role models. Both Common and President Obama celebrate themselves as great role models especially to African American children, and yet both of them have a disturbing pattern of sending some of the worst and most racially divisive possible messages to them, one of which is stigmatizing police as racist.
Now Obama just gave a great big presidential seal of approval to rapper who has no business whatsoever being marketed to small children.
I’m not old enough or responsible enough to care much about such parental matters, but Jon Stewart’s dismissal of the concerns of citizens, parents, and especially policemen as a manifestation of racism is insulting, and that does bother me. I have no doubt any Republican, white president would have been hammered mercilously by both the left and the right for promoting and celebrating a white artist at the Whitehouse half as offensive as Common. The only double standard here is that Obama gets a complete pass for being a liberal. I’m looking forward to Stewart getting straightened out on The Factor on Monday.
I will say that generally Stewart is quite good on racial issues, but he’s wrong on this one.
(h/t Calvin Freiburger)