Saturday, September 03, 2005

Embarrassment, or Genuine Frustration?

Kanye West goes off script last night during NBC's Katrina relief telethon. Appearing in a segment with Mike Myers to solicit donations for the Red Cross, Myers reads from the prompter. Kanye... well, he was Kanye. His full comments:

"I hate the way they portray us in the media.

"If you see a black family it says they are looting if you see a white family it says they are looking for food.

"And you know that it’s been 5 days because most of the people are black and even for me to complain … I would be a hypocrite because I would turn away from the TV because it’s too hard to watch. I’ve even been shopping before giving a donation and so right now I’m calling my business manager what is the biggest amount I can give.

"And just to imagine if I was down there, those are my people down there. So anybody out there who wants to help with the set up, the way that America is set up to help … The poor, the black people, the less well off as slow as possible. I mean, Red Cross is doing everything they can.

"We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war now fighting another way and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us."

(Mike Myers tries to get back on prompter, reads from script and then camera cuts back to Kanye. He pauses before)

Kanye West: "George Bush doesn’t care about black people."

(NBC does a quick cut to comedian/actor Chris Tucker.)

To be fair, Dubya doesn't care about anyone who's still stuck in NOLA right now. It isn't just blacks- although the racial divide is certainly heightened in Katrina's aftermath- but also a question of addressing the economic divide, as well. To that end I need to give kudos to Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera at Fox News Channel for absolutely shutting Sean Hannity up from touting the neo-con party line with their reports from the convention center (you can use the same link to view the video). Mississippi native Smith in particular has been very objective in reporting on the gravity of the situation all week, pulling people wading in the water along I-10 out and onto the exit ramp refugee camp, trying in vain to get a police officer to answer questions, and detailing harrowing and unfiltered accounts of the anarchy at the convention center. Should he keep this up Smith might be lookig for another job by years end.

Kanye's comments last night have given the right a much-needed distraction from the failure of compassionate conservatism in the Gulf Coast. Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin- a 21st Century version of Tokyo Rose- catches her readers up on Kanye from what appears to be a passing glance at Wikipedia, filtered with the withering satire of a sorority girl who only gave her husband handjobs when they were dating because she was hellbent on saving herself for her wedding night. Kanye's comments have given kool-aid drinking harpies like Malkin a brief distraction from the realities of compassionate conservatism:

"West may be Time's "smartest man in pop music," but he also happens to be a tinfoil-hat conspiracist who raps about how the government invented the AIDS virus and a petulant sore loser who delivered a tirade at the American Music Awards when he didn't get a trophy."

While West's comments at Live 8 about the AIDS virus were largely uninformed and only perpetuated the theory that HIV was created to wipe out African Americans, Malkin should probably subscribe to the "pot kettle black" theory in trying to punk him out. After all, at least Kanye West isn't a minority advocating racial profiling and defending Japanese-American internment camps during Wold War II, claiming we never had fiscal responsibility under Democratic leadership, smearing Cindy Sheehan, making false accusations of an Ohio organization registering a terrorist to vote, and claiming that John Kerry's shrapnel injuries in Vietnam were self-inflicted.

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