Joseph Cotto, 9/9/2014 [Archive]

Proof 'Hip Hop Conservatism' is a Loser

By Joseph Cotto

It seems that the frenzy over Michael Brown's death has finally subsided.

Ever since the black eighteen-year-old was shot in a St. Louis suburb by white police officer Darren Wilson, mindlessness has ruled the day. Brown was unarmed when killed, shortly after he and a friend completed a strong-arm robbery.

The shooting's aftermath has began yet another volatile conversation over race. Many Brown supporters simply want to see Officer Wilson hung out to dry as retribution for perceived law enforcement racism. Legally definable guilt matters not; "getting back" at a white man is what many yearn for.

This ethic, above anything else, proves why political conservatism will never win among the urban black electorate. In this circle, the GOP is seen as the lion's den from which all "white supremacy" emerges.

Still, it's no secret that the Republican Party is looking to diversify. That's a good thing, but must be done reasonably.

One former congressman's approach is a textbook example of what not to do. Busted cocaine patron Trey Radel represented an affluent constituency in Florida, anchored by such locales as Naples and Marco Island. Nonetheless, he was at the forefront of introducing the GOP to hip-hop music.

Last year, Radel described his attraction to hip-hop in an opinion piece published at BuzzFeed.

"Unlike most young, white teenagers growing up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, my favorite musicians were hip hop artists, including rappers such as Eric B., Big Daddy Kane and Chuck D of Public Enemy," he recalled.

Later, he wrote that "Chuck said it best, 'our freedom of speech is freedom or death.' This is a message we can all get behind, Republican or Democrat. I find a conservative message in 'Fight the Power' because I believe when government expands it becomes a political tool meant to oppress.

"We see it when Chuck D addresses oppression and the Civil Rights movement or references the Black Panthers. We see it when NWA, or even old-school artists like Paris, address harassment from law enforcement. Targeting and oppression is happening today, from the IRS going after political groups to the government spying on journalists and everyday American citizens."

Here it seems like Radel is trying to equivocate white-collar political scandals with savagery brought forth on the streets of late-1980s and early-1990s America.

Our nation's popular culture has been circling the drain for decades, and Radel's favored musicians are evidence of this. What does the GOP have to gain by endorsing "music" so base as hip-hop? How will not only championing the downfall of artistic taste, but using this as a vehicle for public policy benefit the nation?

Some might say that by bringing hip-hop into the loop, Republicans can find common ground with people who listen to it. Then, maybe these individuals will vote the party line.

Hopefully few men and women believe this. If modern conservatives will fall for such tripe, then they deserve to lose every election.

Hip-hop is most popular in, and originally rose out of, impoverished urban neighborhoods. Aside from a culture of drugs, irresponsible sex, and violence, many in said neighborhoods dislike those who are not of their ethnic or racial background.

Beyond the rancid business of ancestry-based politics, hip-hoppers have no reason to support the GOP. Major Republican policies such as tax cuts for wealthier Americans, abolishing affirmative action programs, and stricter welfare standards simply do not resonate with most in the 'hood.

One cannot forget that no small number of loyal Republican voters are senior citizens. How might hip-hop conservatism be expected to play in The Villages, for example?

Another question that answers itself.

While the GOP certainly needs to communicate with new demographic groups, glorifying low culture is not the way. It feels disgusting to even consider associating the party of Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Gerald Ford with such dreck.

Have we no respect for our history and the lessons it can teach us about tomorrow?

——-

Copyright 2014 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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