Saturday, September 03, 2005

Shoot the messenger because he's "selfish"

Kanye West committed the cardinal sin today of abandoning the lines provided him by the organizers of the "Concert for Hurricane relief" and using his speaking platform to direct his comments to the suffering of African Americans (remember the vast majority of folks in New Orleans are actually human beings and Americans too, not animals, refugees, looters or whatever slur is being hurled their way this minute).

The AP story is here. (Props on the link to ellencho at The Fighting 44's)
Kanye West takes Bush to task during NBC telethon

New York — It began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis.

But "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, took an unexpected turn thanks to the outspoken rapper Kanye West. Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, was aired live to the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored.

There was a several-second tape delay, but the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn't realize (West) had gone off-script," said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.

Immediately after the airing was over, Marks said it was undetermined how much, if any, of the tirade would be included in the taped West Coast feed three hours later.

The host was NBC News' Matt Lauer, who invited viewers to contribute to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by phone or on the Web. Some 18 presenters performed musical numbers or gave information on the tragedy's huge scope.

Louisiana native Tim McGraw teared up as he told Lauer, "I know the citizens that weren't affected by this directly are gonna stand up and do good things for people." He sang two songs, then became the first of the evening's stars to sign a Gibson Les Paul Special guitar to be auditioned online.

Faith Hill, a Mississippi native, sang "There Will Come a Time," with the inspiring lyrics, "The darkness will be gone, the weak shall be strong. Hold on to your faith."

New Orleans son Aaron Neville performed Randy Newman's soulful "Louisiana 1927" with the memorable chorus, "they're trying to wash us away, they're trying to wash us away."

New York governor George Pataki presented the Red Cross with a check for $2.5-million (U.S.) and promised, "This great state will do far more."

"In terms of property damage," said actress Hilary Swank, "the estimate is at least $26-billion in insured losses and perhaps twice that in uninsured losses over a 90,000-square-mile area — approximately the size of Kansas."

Other speakers included Lindsay Lohan, Eric LaSalle, Glenn Close, Richard Gere, John Goodman and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."

While allowing that "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," West — who delivered an emotional outburst at the American Music Awards after he was snubbed for an award — declared that government authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on aid to the Gulf Coast. Without getting specific, he added, "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

After he stated, "George Bush doesn't care about black people. Please call —" the camera cut away to comedian Chris Tucker.

Concluding the hour a few minutes later, Lauer noted that "emotions in this country right now are running very high. Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We've heard some of that tonight. But it's still part of the American way of life."

Then the entire ensemble performed "When the Saints Go Marching In."

In a statement, NBC said, "Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks.

"It would be most unfortunate," the statement continued, "if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."

Friday's program was the first of several TV benefits planned through next weekend.

NBC and the five other major commercial broadcast networks, along with PBS, plan to unite next Friday for a special. The same night, BET will air a benefit. And on Saturday, Sept. 10, the MTV networks will air a special.

Is this supposed to be a "news" article? The journalist's lengthy rant against West's brilliant, brave comments soiled the integrity of the venerable Associated Press. When West merely gave his perspective, the "journalist" usedthe backhanded writing technique of using clearly connotative language to claim that Kanye was out of line.

I'm sorry though, I forgot, mainstream journalists "report", black artists who don't mindlessly parrot their marching orders "ruin the dignity" of an event.

Couldn't the journalist have just presented Kanye's comments and let readers decide for themselves if they were appropriate? NBC's reaction is priceless. They apologized because they assumed that the artists would not speak about how they really felt about the disaster. They just assumed they would say the normal canned drivel.

If Swank's statements are typical of the prepared dialogue, thank God someone actually decided to speak on behalf of the victims of the disaster, rather than just talk about the monetary losses.
Juicee News Daily really, truly, I'm not making this up, reported "Kanye West ruins benefit show" and accused him of being "selfish and unprofessional". I suppose that not reciting the weak determined content could be called "unprofessional". But how is speaking on behalf of those dying in the streets of New Orleans "selfish"? I mean, what is Kanye West supposed to be gaining from couragously expressing his dissenting views except sniping from the right-wing?

I'm sick of this anti-American tact of silencing dissent when it is most needed. The relief effort was fucked up and tons of people died. Now we can't even speak about it because it ruins the atmosphere? Of course Mike Myers was upset--there was actually a living, breathing human being next to him on stage and it made him uncomfortable.

Watch the linked video, and ask yourself, "What was Kanye thinking?" Was he nervous? Why did he do it?

If you can't understand, go back to your side of the country and be keep telling yourself that Bush loves all God's children of all colors. After all, if you say it enough and click your heels together, maybe it'll magically become true.

Also, go ahead and read "The Emperor's New Clothes" again, you might understand it this time.


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