Stewart: Criticism of Common shows lack of reading comprehension

May 12, 2011|By Luke Broadwater

A couple days ago, I pointed out on this blog that rapper Common isn't the monster some Republicans are making him out to be. In fact, he has lyrics that many conservatives could agree with, such as those that make the case for a pro-life world view

Jon Stewart waded in to the contrived controversy last night on "The Daily Show," pointing out the lack of reading comprehension and hypocrisy on the part of those criticizing the Obama administration's invitation of the rapper to the White House. 

Much of the criticism of Common stems from a 2007 spoken word poem in which conservatives allege the rapper encourages the shooting of police. In actuality, the poem argues against violence, Stewart concludes after reading it in its entirety. 

"It's a call for peace," he said. 

Criticism of Common, therefore, doesn't stem from legitimate concerns about his lyrics, but from a failure of reading comprehension. 

Stewart then went on to point out the hypocrisy of those criticizing Common, including Fox News and its host Sean Hannity. 

The comedian played clips of Fox wishing Ice-T a happy birthday (he once rapped about killing cops), President George W. Bush giving an award to singer Johnny Cash (he wrote about killing people in several songs) and Hannity defending singer Ted Nugent (who went on a violence-laced tirade against President Barack Obama). 

"This isn't even fun any more," Stewart concluded of pointing out the hypocrisy. 

(Now, in his defense, Bush never criticized Common's White House appearance, but Hannity sure did.) 

Stewart's message was a voice of reason in what was otherwise a debate fueled by a failure of reading comprehension. Common advocates violence no more than Eric Clapton actually shot a sheriff.  (The narrator of a song isn't necessarily the artist, but a persona assumed by the artist.) Common was making a deeper point about society and, in doing so, invoked seemingly violent lyrics as part of a conflicted character represented in a song. The end point of Common's poem, however, was socially uplifting and a call for non-violence. 

Part 1 

Part 2

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