But Friday, West's statements were much closer to those being made by critics of the Bush administration from across the racial and political spectra. And while he is being criticized by many on the right -- and will no doubt pay a price with some lost album sales and less radio play in more conservative markets -- he did Americans a service by putting the issue on the table for national debate.Robert Hilburn in the LA Times also calls NBC out on their attempt to censor West:
Perhaps the most striking evidence of this came on Sunday during CNN's "Late Edition" when host Wolf Blitzer quoted West when asking Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson whether the response to Hurricane Katrina has been racist. Thompson, a Democrat, said the government had failed and "someone has to be held accountable." He cited the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
The most revealing part of the exchange, however, was the fact that Thompson mistook the comments from West as a statement from Princeton University professor, theologian, author and activist Dr. Cornel West. In one fell swoop, the rapper and college dropout has earned a place in the front ranks of this country's best-known and most respected African-American activists.
As we enter the celebrity telethon phase of the Katrina tragedy, NBC's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" stands as a blueprint for its own kind of institutional failure. By censoring Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West's remarks critical of President Bush during its West Coast feed of the program Friday night, the network violated the most moving and essential moment in an otherwise sterile, self-serving corporate broadcast. "It would be most unfortunate," the network said in a statement defending its action, "if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion." Excuse me, but whose tragedy is this: NBC's or America's? NBC may have been nervous about West's comments, including the notion that America and its president are unresponsive to the needs of the poor. But you can be sure those remarks would have been cheered more than anything else in the program by the black parents and children still trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome if they had been able to hear them. The line NBC stopped us from hearing on the West Coast: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."If you've not listened to Kayne West's provocative statement yet, listen here [MP3].
[Tags: kaynewest | katrina | aftermath | bush | politics | nbc | power | rap | music]