The Public Enemy Question


As a cultural dissident, I study a lot of what passes for art. Over the years, I have surveyed the angry defiance of Black Rap artists like Public Enemy and wonder to myself, "Why are we governing these people?" The videos of rap-songs like "By the Time I Get to Arizona," and "Shut 'em Down!" suggest a violent insurrection against the Whites.

Why? We would gladly give the Blacks their own country, if they only asked for one, just to get them out of our hair. So why are they still here? The quote from the song in the image below suggests they want a nation, but does Public Enemy really mean this?

"Fight the Power!" delivers mixed messages--a very clear challenge to civil authority, mixed with abject dependence. Note the quote from the song, "Got to give us what we want!" But what do they want? What power do they really need to fight? Racism or a retreat from freedom? What do they really fear, the KKK or independence, and the responsibility of governing without the Whites?

Many years have passed since Public Enemy recorded this song. The group has descended from celebrity status to middle-aged ordinariness. P.E. leader Chuck D has since converted to Islam from the influence of Louis Farrakhan. His sidekick Flavor Flav, the man in sunglasses with a clock around his neck, descended into addiction and petty crime.

There is a class of Americans who dish out criticism of the nation, with no end in sight. But when you start talking about a separate nation to put them all in, the old spectres, "Different-from" and "Apart-from" raise their ugly heads, and the critics turn self-pitying and hypercritical, telling us we should accept them as they are, as part of tolerance and diversity.

People have to reckon with the cost of a freedom--loving nation. It does not want to control us. It wants us to fly high, to respond positively to challenges, and to thrive in a culture with many facets and few restrictions. A people who reject this as part of the societal givens need a different nation from ours.