Forget what I said about Hollywood pitching in to help Katrina victims.
I missed NBC's relief concert last night, and I'm glad I did. Rapper Kanye West went off-script and smeared the President (and virtually every non-black American) with the most vile and racist accusations. According to the AP:
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."
Yeah. This is the America that's made you rich and famous. (You can even download Kayne West ringtones.)
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."
Granted, the concert was full of entertainers such as the sublime Harry Connick, Jr. and Aaron Neville, New Orleans natives, who are above that kind of nonsense. But what genius picked West to be on this program in the first place? Read on:
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." [bold mine]
This is a guy who records songs with lyrics like this:
And we gone stay hustling on the block until we caught
And we gone stay showing off that jewelry that we bought
And we gone stay heated in case it's in and out of court'
Cause we some gangstas, I don't know what the f--- you thought
Hello!!! Earth to America!!! The thugs stealing plasma screen TVs and shooting at law enforcement officers -- who do you think they listen to??? Sheesh.
NBC has stated that West's comments were unscripted and in no way reflect the opinions of the network, but Matt Lauer's wimpy apologetics at the end of the broadcast don't make me feel all warm and cozy:
... 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."
No, Mr. Lauer, that wasn't "criticism," it was SLANDER against our Commander in Chief and every non-black in this country. It was perverse, ignorant, racist excrement. You should have just left it alone instead of trying to recast it as good ol' American dissent.
And whether NBC realized West was a loose cannon is irrelevant. He's a rap pornographer and has no business being on a charity concert during family hour.
Give me a friggin' break.
Tell ya what, Hollywood. Just keep your money. You're going to need it. You insist on showing your contempt and ignorance, and you wonder why fewer and fewer Americans are buying your CDs and watching your movies.
ADDENDUM: Do I think the federal government's response has been effective or speedy? NO. Do I think the State of Louisiana or the City of New Orleans had a handle on things? NO. However, you cannot reduce this situation to a simple "blame Bush" formula, and the suggestion that Bush and all of non-black America would be pleased as punch to see black people die is reprehensible and profane.
I think we've just seen race relations set back about 20 years, thanks to provocateurs like Kanye West.