Rap Singer Ice-T has recently been in the news because one his latest albums, "Body Count" has a song on it called "Cop Killer". Nationally the swine have mounted a campaign to get the record's producer and distributor, media conglomerate Time-Warner, to pull the album and the song from distribution. Police groups have criticized the song non stop since its release and have called for boycotts of Time Warner and pressured numerous retail outlets to stop selling "Body Count" and have urged city pension funds to divest themselves of Time Warner stock.
Until recently Time Warner fended off the attacks by claiming to stand for artistic freedom and integrity, i.e. if it makes a buck for their corporate coffers they'll sell it. On July 28, 1992, Ice T announced he would voluntarily drop "Cop Killer" from his album and to show it was not a matter of making money he would distribute the song for free at his concerts.
This isn't the first time that rappers have run afoul of the police state. Rap group N.W.A.'s hit song "Fuck the Police" brought letters from the FBI and other police groups threatening their distributors and led to threats of the groups arrest if they performed the song in Detroit and other cities. Public Enemy was roundly attacked by the mainstream media and establishment talking heads for a video that they made which showed the governor of Arizona (one of the few states that has refused to make Martin Luther Kings birthday a holiday) and other Arizona officials being shot, blown up, etc.
Rap is coming out as being the art of the oppressed in America. Most of the singers are themselves black and have experienced first hand what it means to be black and poor in the US's inner cities under occupation by a nearly all white, militarized police force. Their albums sell millions with virtually no airplay by radio stations and they are also having a large "crossover" effect where whites and hispanics buy the albums. As long as musicians sing about fast cars, drugs, sex, and other pop topics they are in no danger from the establishment and its police forces. As soon as they start to challenge the political status quo or give voice to the anger and frustration of the poor they are roundly and immediately attacked and attempts are made to silence their music if they cannot be marginalised and ignored.
The claim by these police groups that they just oppose violence has to be exposed and ridiculed for the sham it is. The media perpetuates a "cop culture" with the dozens of TV shows and movies shown every week that have cops as their protagonists invariably protecting the property and persons of the ruling class, where blacks and hispanics and the poor are stereotyped into typecasts as muggers, pimps, prostitutes, killers and other assorted low lifes. Excessive violence and civil rights violations by these cop "heroes" are the norm. Are these criticized? No, for the most part they are cheered and applauded.
Where were all these cop groups when "Dirty Harry" was being shown? Were they calling for boycotts and bans because it showed cops as a bunch of bloodthirsty thugs? No, they were all wearing their "Make my day" T-shirts.
As long as movies have women and children being butchered and massacred the cops are happy. "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" are great, they never attack the cops (nor do the cops ever seem able to catch these guys) or question the status quo, it's "normal" for women and children to be victimized. The slasher movies are safe and sound for mass entertainment and viewing.
We need to recognize the role that music, movies and other forms of mass entertainment play in our society. Because not many young people read even the mainstream publications, much less the alternative press which is marginalized and cut off from mass circulation in this country, rap and other forms of music are where they get their news and information. Anyone who listens to rap was not surprised by the Los Angeles rebellion, the jury verdict in the Rodney King case or that the beating had occurred in the first place: this is all standard fare in rap music. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton launched into an attack on Sister Souljah because of her comments that if whites were being killed at the same rate blacks are killed everyday in this country it would receive the attention it deserves. Clinton's attack was seen as an indirect attack on Jesse Jackson and the black voters he represents in an effort by Clinton to win the racist white voters that normally vote Republican. It also goes to show the ruling class is pretty unanimous on its opposition to politicized rap.
The attack on rap is a smokescreen to obscure the larger issues of poverty, institutionalized racism and the war on the poor that ensures that the richer get richer while the poor get prison. Its not about "violence" but about questioning the legitimacy of having our communities occupied by a militarized police force, of constitutional guarantees being whittled away for everyone and completely stripped from the poor, of the state having a license to kill and brutalize its citizens (no national statistics are kept on how many citizens are killed by police each year in the US), its about an economic system that leaves 1 % of the population controlling 37 % of the nations wealth to say nothing of it's political system, where millions of Americans cannot afford health care or housing, where our children aren't being educated and schools resemble prisons, and we prisoners know what a short jump it is from inadequate schools to crowded prisons. And whenever social movements arise to challenge this dismal state of affairs its the thin blue line of killer cops that's there to maintain the status quo.
It's obvious where all the police groups stand on the issues; compare the hue and cry over "Cop Killer" with their reaction to either the Rodney King beating or the jury verdict in the case. Like NWA says: Fuck the Police.
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