Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mos Def on UBM-TV

Bill Maher’s HBO talk show “Real Time” is one of the best things on TV. (One of the few shows I regularly watch, actually.) Last Friday, Maher had on Cornel West and Mos Def – an intellectual trying to be an entertainer, and an entertainer trying to be an intellectual.

Fun to watch, but dayum... I quickly got fed up with Mos Def, whom I used to think was smart. He was popping plenty shit about how he doesn’t believe al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center... and he don’t believe O.J. killed nobody neither.

Mos Def would probably be cool to have in the car on a four-hour road trip... never a dull moment. But he can’t be taken seriously as a social critic, not when he’s that disconnected from reality. Or else that determined to define himself entirely by his oppositional stance against white America, common sense and honesty be damned.

It was good to see Maher challenge Mos on his wildest shit. And it was hilarious when Mos Def flipped it around and said he does believe in Bigfoot.

Only today did I discover the rap video “Tell the Truth” on YouTube – a track featuring Mos Def and Eminem but mainly a revolutionary-left firespitter known as Immortal Technique. “Bush knocked down the towers” is one of the lines repeated in the chorus.

Let me embed it right here, so you can see what I’m talking about:



The video is real slick in terms of design and graphics... but the politics is bullshit masquerading as courage. “Tell the Truth” should’ve been part of my “9/11 insanity mix.”

Anyway... if you missed “Real Time with Bill Maher,” check out some clips I pulled up on the Video Bar. (Ralph Nader appeared via satellite.) Any day now, this entire episode will be downloadable for free via iTunes. Not yet, though.

Mos Def on “Real Time” was one of the topics this morning during the bloggers’ roundtable on NPR’s “News & Notes,” where I was a guest. Follow this link if you’d like to check out that 14-minute segment (in streaming audio) at NPR’s website.

30 comments:

Andrew said...

I really love Real Time. It features some of the most animated and, at times, intelligent discussion on all of TV. I just wish it would be filmed without an audience. Everytime they applaud loudly after someone spouts a shamelessly pandering catchphrase, the conversation gets derailed.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Yeah, Andrew... even Maher seems peeved at the audience half the time.

InKast said...

Yeah, Mos is crazy, I mean how could he not believe that 19 people workin in a cave halfway around the world (who could barley even fly a Cesna plane), could hijack and commendeer a Passenger Jet, circle some of the most secure airspace in the western hemisphere for hours while NORAD twittles their thumbs, and then land 3 direct shots into buildings at 500 miles per hour!

And how could he not believe that a high rise building that wasnt struk by a plane (WTC7) could collapse in its own footprint due to heavy fire.... I mean sure it would be the first time in the history of high rise buildings that it has ever happened, but com'on, thats no reason to question it!

Its a good thing that folks like you (credible social critics) are out there to set people like Mos straight... I mean he did call attention to the Jena 6 and he did challenge Jay Z and 50 cent to go down to Louisiana to protest the overt racist prosecutors with him ... but who cares, he questioned the offical story of 9/11 and he spoke in the vernacular of the hood, that right there alone calls into question his credibility.

thanks for settin him straight undercover black man.

Andrew said...

There are two types of people in this country: those who believe that 9/11 was a terrorist attack orchestrated by Islamic extremists, and there are idiots.

inkast said...

outstanding retort andrew.

Anonymous said...

There are lots of reputable professors, scholars and the like who do not believe that Osama was behind 9/11. Stop shooting down everyone who doesn't believe in what you believe in. The same people who said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are the same who are saying that Osama was behind the attacks. How do you know they are telling the truth about that? The only way you know is because they told you. You wouldn't know a weapon of mass destruction if it was in your backyard and you wouldn't know a conspiracy either.
Your are just jealous that Mos Def was there with Dr. West and you were not.

Undercover Black Man said...

You see, Andrew? You thought I should ignore the 9/11 conspiracy-mongers. We have to confront this... because it's all over the place.

inkast said...

How bout you begin with confronting the holes in the "official story" (aka the real conspiracy theory) first.

and when your done with that, you can get back to ignoring the unanswered questions that have been left outstanding for 6 years now... I hear if you pretend they don't exist long enough, they'll just go away.

because by "confronting" I'm sure what you really mean is; ridiculing the positon of others with no independent intellectual thought of your own.

BLACKinUSA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BLACKinUSA said...

Ahhhhh Daaaaaamn! It was the fucking aliens who did it. I got proof, because Nostradamus said so.
Does the fact that a person or group of people who believe in a certain concept of reality mean their understanding of that belief is more quantified than the others?
I am no means a legal type mufucker, but does evidence mean proof?

Remember the world was once thought to be flat.

Like my Auntie use to say. "Magic looks real but we all know it's fake."

Now that I got that off my chest.

Thank you and good night.

Anonymous said...

I am not saying that "I believe it was a conspiracy", I am telling you to ascribe neither ignorance nor intelligence based on whether or not someone believes 9/11 was a conspiracy.
But, I bet you believe that it is un-American to question that.
If you want to reasonably discuss this, the term conspiracy gets a negative connotation because its easy to discredit someone using it. However, a true conspiracy can be seen in looking from the lobbying efforts of large industries to their advertising. You do realize that our Osama and Sadaam Hussein were friends of our gov't right? Islamic extremists are dangerous and could have been the hijackers...but YOU AND I don't know that for sure and I would rather with-hold judgement than trust the gov't.
King and Malcom X were killed after talking about coming together and labor rights, Castro is the devil and Chavez is a fool--brought to you by America, for Americans.

Anonymous said...

I am not saying that "I believe it was a conspiracy", I am telling you to ascribe neither ignorance nor intelligence based on whether or not someone believes 9/11 was a conspiracy.
But, I bet you believe that it is un-American to question that.
If you want to reasonably discuss this, the term conspiracy gets a negative connotation because its easy to discredit someone using it. However, a true conspiracy can be seen in looking from the lobbying efforts of large industries to their advertising. You do realize that our Osama and Sadaam Hussein were friends of our gov't right? Islamic extremists are dangerous and could have been the hijackers...but YOU AND I don't know that for sure and I would rather with-hold judgement than trust the gov't.
King and Malcom X were killed after talking about coming together and labor rights, Castro is the devil and Chavez is a fool--brought to you by America, for Americans.

Anonymous said...

americans are not the brightest creatures.

memomachine said...

Hmmmm.

I think people who suspect the US government, or Bush personally, were involved with 9/11 should remember something fairly basic.

Up until 9/11 the standard procedure for *any* hijacking was to sit down, cooperate with the hijackers and submit to whatever the demands were to get the jet on the ground so negotiators could begin working to free the passengers.

Up until 9/11 most such hijackings were political in nature and oriented around very public political theater where the hijackers used the media exposure to whatever ends they desired. But OBL cut that Gordian Knot by using this submissive SOP against airline passengers.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can gain quite a bit of basic flying training fairly easily. And it's not like modern commercial aircraft are specifically designed to be difficult to fly. In fact they're designed to be very easy to fly with a whole host of automated tools and equipment because of reductions in the size of the flight crews.

And the last point to be considered is that the twin towers were 1,450+ feet tall, each. Not exactly small targets. And the Pentagon is incredibly massive.

...

and yet another last point (sorry). is that neither Saddam nor OBL were "friends" of our government. That's just nonsense. We did support Saddam against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War as a matter of convenience.

But to describe that as being "friends" is ridiculous.

And no, we didn't give him chemical weapons either. Industrial dual/multi-use chemicals are not chemical weapons even though they can be precursors to chemical weapons. You'd be amazed at the number, quantity and purity of chemicals required for everyday living. Even for water purification and sewage treatment requires using massive amounts of chlorine and other chemicals.

Undercover Black Man said...

Anonymous wrote: "... ascribe neither ignorance nor intelligence based on whether or not someone believes 9/11 was a conspiracy."

First, thanks for commenting. Second, I'm not ascribing ignorance or intelligence based on that... I'm ascribing it based on the reasons Mos Def gave for believing what he believes.

And those reasons have nothing to do with evidence, and everything to do with a thoroughgoing resentment of America.

And I believe that for a black American to thoroughly resent America is a sign of shoddy thinking. Either that, or it's a political tactic. Or possibly a mental disorder.

Michael Murray said...

After I saw that segment, the first thing I said to my wife was, "I didn't think Mos Def was that stupid". I don't really have an issue with any of the topics he discussed. I think there is some validity in all of them, its was the way he articulated his point was surprising considering he works with words for a living.

elephant said...

Had a similar impression when I saw the show. I admired the man. Still do. But there was zero eloquence coming out of his mouth that day. It's not the point of view - I'll listen to what he has to say - but when you're on nationwide TV and you squander it with broken slogans and rambling bullshit. Come on now, Mos sounded ignorant on Maher's show. And we're talking about a man who makes his way in the world through the power of WORDS.

Disappointing.

elephant said...

MM......

Just saw your comment. Interesting that we ending up writing pretty much the same thing at about the same time....

susie said...

I tuned in for the last 20 minutes or so and just watched the video you've posted. Both West and Mos talk a lot but there was no real discussion it was more like speech making and generally if you're going to make a speech it's best to know what you're going to say and how you're going to say it, otherwise you can end up just sounding crazy.

I felt like Mos Def was speaking from such an emotionally angry place that he wasn't really able to be part of a cogent discussion. I can't dismiss him out of hand as crazy because it felt like he got into a reactive place and as you point out Dave he's an entertainer and this wasn't really his medium.

I'm still trying to picture Truth prostate and naked...

SJ said...

Most awful episode of Real Time I have ever seen (started watching the show about a year and a half ago). It's clear Mos is never coming back...he's cuckoo.

inkast said...

"And I believe that for a black American to thoroughly resent America is a sign of shoddy thinking. Either that, or it's a political tactic. Or possibly a mental disorder."

400 years of degradation, racism and oppression and if we resent it then its our flaw.
It's brainwashed, no perspetive having negores like yourself that are Black Americans worst enemy.

We've been beaten, spat on, and lynched for 400 hundred years simply because of our race and your corny ass thinks its us who have the mental disorder. You're a joke.

(I know you wont post this, but it still needs to be said)

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks for the comments, Inkast, and welcome to my spot. I will respond in two parts.

PART ONE:

You wrote: "400 years of degradation, racism and oppression and if we resent it then its our flaw."

All that bad stuff, and yet black people prosper in America like nowhere else on Earth.

For comparison's sake, let's look at Haiti... where black folks kicked out the Europeans more than 200 years ago. (I assume L'Ouverture and Dessalines are among your greatest heroes.)

And today... Haiti is the basket case of the Western Hemisphere. Two centuries of independent black rule, and more than 50 percent of the population is illiterate.

After independence, Haiti’s leaders never established a comprehensive schooling system. In order to educate Haiti’s upper classes, where did the country’s leaders turn? To the Catholic Church, which sent French priests to Haiti after 1860 to build and operate the schools which ended up educating generations of Haitian elites.

So... after kicking whitey’s ass to get their freedom, black Haitians had to rely on white Frenchmen for their education.

See how complicated history is? Why get hung up on the 19th Century, without appreciating what it has led to today?

[TO BE CONTINUED]

Undercover Black Man said...

PART TWO:

Inkast, you wrote: “We've been beaten, spat on, and lynched for 400 hundred years simply because of our race and your corny ass thinks its us who have the mental disorder.

Glad you brought up lynching. Because all the Jena 6 agitating has got me to thinking...

Do you know how many black people were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1951 (according to the Tuskegee Institute, which kept track)?

Around 3,400.

Do you know how many black men between the ages of 15 and 34 were murdered in the United States – by other blacks – in 2004 alone?

About 4,400.

Some black folks take so much comfort in their victim status – and are addicted to the presumed moral and political leverage that status bestows, vis-à-vis white people – they can’t stop talking about the Lynching Era (which was largely over by the 1930s), yet keep silent on the prevalence of black murder.

(Would you rather be beaten and spat on by whites... or shot by a brutha?)

I say all this to say, Inkast... the victimhood hustle, the grievance game, is long past played out. We hold our fate, and the fate of our children, in our own hands.

Talk to any black person who’s prospering in America, and he or she is likely to tell you: an adherence to the values of education, law-abidingness and work will lead to success.

Adherence to the politics of resentment, racialism and revenge will lead to a wasted life.

elephant said...

I'm startled by your response. You affirm the potential of education and hard work. But, somehow, to make that point, you feel compelled to minimize the impact of lynchings and distort the history of Haiti.

I never saw lynchings as a number game. For me, they represented the violent nature of the culture in subduing and controlling the Black man. So far from comparing the number of collective lynching fatalities to one year of gun shot murders, one might suspect that one endures as a factor in the other. This is not an EXCUSE, this is just referencing the destructive power of systems that tear away at human dignity.

As for Haiti, no question, it's a fucked up economy and fucked up political system. And it's had more than its share of bloodshed and human suffering. But you explain all of this as a result of it being run by Black men?

This is simplistic shit, the same kind of thing you critiqued Mos Def for.

You believe the culture of victimhood and resentment is destructive? A loser's script?

Alright. I happen to agree. But you don't have to ignore or diminish history to make that point.

Undercover Black Man said...

Elephant, I appreciate your response. And I know I might upset some people with this line of discussion... but the time has come.

I will unfurl and build upon this argument over the course of weeks. But the key to it is deconstructing the liberal assumptions which shape our public conversation on race.

How is it distorting the history of Haiti to point out that, after 200 years of independent black rule, more than half the population is illiterate?

This fact challenges the childish hero-worship of Toussaint L'Ouverture, and makes another point: If America was nothing but a cauldron of racism and oppression, then why do so many black people prosper in America today?

There are 3.7 million black Americans with bachelor's degrees (or higher).

Across sub-Saharan Africa, only 2.5 percent of the college-age population attends college. For the world at large, it's 23 percent.

Kinda looks like the U.S.A. is a great place for black people to be. Great opportunities for advancement.

As for the lynching... well, for now, let's just say I'm unconvinced by your suggestion that black people commit more than half the homicides in this country due to the legacy of lynching.

inkast said...

Undercover Black Man said:

"All that bad stuff, and yet black people prosper in America like nowhere else on Earth.

For comparison's sake, let's look at Haiti... where black folks kicked out the Europeans more than 200 years ago. (I assume L'Ouverture and Dessalines are among your greatest heroes.)"

Inkast says:

yeah, I'm not sure exactly what point being made here is. (some) Black folks prosper and succeed in the face of brutality, overt discrimination, and institutionalized covert discrimination. Sounds like a testement to the will and fortitude of black people in America to me, black folks who had enough skill fight for their rights, and enough know how "game" the racist system and prosper anyway.

As for your Haiti comparison, I can't imagine why you would believe that conflating the plight Black people in Haiti and the plight Black people in America is in any way a relevant comparison. Where exactly does Haiti fit into the discussion of African American discrimination in the U.S.? How does the turmoil in Haiti relate to the oppression of Black folks in the USA? The fact that Haiti cant get it together after their revolution (even though there was still a German and U.S. imperial presence well into the 20th century) means what exactly in relation to Black Americans?

Are you saying that American blacks should be glad that we were not born in Haiti, by virtue of the fact that Black people in Haiti have it worse off, and thus we should be content with what we have here in America? discrimination, racism and all? Personally I'm not one to spend much time dwelling on how things could be worse, I'd rather spend my time trying to make things better. I'm really glad MLK and every other freedom fighter didn't adopt this attitude.... "why take to the streets, why not be content with what we have, after all it could be worse"

Your comparison would be like telling poor White Americans not to resent the structural inequality in the U.S. because hey.... it could be worse, you coulda been born in Romania.

It could always be worse, the point is that it should be better.

Or are you saying (and I really hop you arent) that black people in general lack the capacity to form prosperous self sustaining societies without the interference of Whites? I hope you aren't saying that because that flies in the face of thousands of years of history.

Undercover Black Man said:

"See how complicated history is? Why get hung up on the 19th Century, without appreciating what it has led to today?"

Inkast says:

That might be the most looney assertion of all.

So 400 years of oppression was somehow ok because during the last 50 or so years Blacks were finally able to demand their rights. That somehow makes the centuries of oppression "worth it"? Huh? That completely ignores the fact that the centuries of oppression served no purpose (other than to solidify white supremacy) in the first place.

undercover black man said:

"Some black folks take so much comfort in their victim status – and are addicted to the presumed moral and political leverage that status bestows, vis-à-vis white people – they can’t stop talking about the Lynching Era (which was largely over by the 1930s), yet keep silent on the prevalence of black murder."


Inkast says:

Too bad for those folks, I (and I believe the vast majority of black Americans) on the other hand have no problem talking about black on black violence and also racial (and other) discrimination as well (including Jim Crow terrorism, which I was reffering too when you singled out the lynching era).

elephant said...

Undercover, it's always interesting to read your views. But I gotta clarify or correct your weakest remark. I never stated that any American homicide was DUE TO the legacy of lynching. I suggested that lynching (and related racial crimes) remain a FACTOR – among many other factors – in explaining why our nation still has a chronic amount of rage and violence to contend with.

I really look forward to see your expanded thought on subjects like these. But so far, damn if your comments don’t push me further leftward. You seem to suggest that the wealth and power of one nation has nothing to do with the misery and dependence of another. But neither nations nor individuals arise in a vacuum – even if it’s a Republican’s wet dream to imagine it so. Show me desperate poor people killing one another, and I’ll show you a part of the world that has been used, abused and abandoned by others.

Of course, America is a land of opportunity and freedom. But not for everyone. The same system that can elevate one man can bury another. I’d prefer that the ongoing American struggle involve IMPROVING the nation, not DENYING its most deadly defects.

I'm with Inkast on many of his points.

Undercover Black Man said...

Elephant and Inkast... I sincerely hope both of you will check back here from time to time as I try to articulate my thoughts more fully on the Big Question. I hope I can persuade you on some points... then again, y'all might persuade me on others. (But we'll all have to bring our best game.)

The baseline question has to do with one's funadmental feelings for America as a black person. Should one be fundamentally resentful and oppositional? Or fundamentally grateful and embracing?

I am fundamentally grateful to be an American, and embracing of America's history, culture, mores, and system of government.

As I say, I will unfurl and build my rationale for this -- along with my critique of leftist America-bashers and black nationalist revanchists -- step by step over weeks.

One of Chris Rock's wisest jokes was about the African-American soul struggle. ("America is like the uncle who paid your way to college... but molested you.")

I think the hard-left and the black nationalists, ironically, disempower themselves by constructing their entire world view around a mythos of black victimhood and American evil. Like Chris Rock's metaphorical molestation victim who just can't get past the sex abuse and lead a productive life.

inkast said...

I look foward to commenting on/challenging you on your future blog post.

sorry for the namecalling by the way... I'll try to keep the discourse more civil in future post.

The Gamer said...

you might want to try brother ali to . hes got a great video right here.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=OO18F4aKGzQ