Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WH Poetry Night Draws Right Wing Criticism

President Barack Obama spoke about the importance of poetry and the arts at an event hosted by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. The whole event — part of Michelle Obama’s White House Music Series — was a PG-rated PSA for poetry and arts education, but the media conjured a controversy before it even happened.

The Washington Post Lifestyle reports this week, Common was deemed a “vile,” “cop killer rapper” in headlines on Fox Nation, a Web site run by Fox News. Criticism sprang from other conservative fountainheads, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (who tweeted her disapproval), the Daily Caller (which excerpted lyrics through which Common bemoaned police conduct and President George W. Bush’s initiation of the war in Iraq) and Fox News anchor Sean Hannity (who Tuesday devoted 10 minutes of his show to what the network branded “The Invitation”).

The media tug of war ensued despite Common’s reputation as a morally engaged lyricist who condemns violence and has written children’s books and started a foundation to promote leadership among urban youths.

As the president put it during his opening remarks: “A great poem is one that resonates with us, that challenges us, and that teaches us something about ourselves and the world that we live in.”

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