Jay Z, Barry O, and the counter-culture becomes the culture 10

Hours after the Arab terrorist attack on the US mission in Benghazi, when four Americans were killed including the Ambassador to Libya, the president managed to conquer his grief and fly off to party with the entertainer Jay Z.

We haven’t taken much notice of Jay Z before now. Who is he, that the president of the United States will hurry away from the seat of government when his country has just suffered an humiliating defeat, to seek his company? What is his compelling message that powerful men will travel far to listen to him in person?

We found some answers in an article titled Jay Z’s American Fascism by David P. Goldman at PJ Media:

Who would have believed that a performing genre (it is a stretch to call it “music”) dominated by convicted and confessed criminals, brutally misogynistic, preaching and practicing violence, would come to dominate American popular culture?

Jay Z, who brags of dealing drugs and shooting an older brother in his youth, and pleaded guilty to stabbing a record producer, could “help shape attitudes in a real (sic) positive way,” according to President Obama.

Jay Z texts regularly with the president and is a regular White House visitor after opening Obama campaign rallies.

Goldman gives this example of Jay Z’s rap message:

We formed a new religion

No sins as long as there’s permission

And deception is the only felony

So never fuck nobody without telling me

Sunglasses and Advil, last night was mad real.

To us this is incoherent nonsense. Some words are obviously put in only because they semi-rhyme with some other word, as is common in  rap songs. But from these lines Goldman concludes that Jay Z believes himself to be “the prophet of a new religion“. And Goldman may be right.

Jay Z’s message, Goldman says, is that “violence is not only a legitimate form of expression: it is the only manly form of expression.” And he quotes:

This might offend my political connects

My raps don’t have melodies

This should make niggas wan’ go and commit felonies

Get your chain tooken

I may do it myself, I’m so Brooklyn!

I know we facing a recession

But the music y’all making gon’ make it the Great Depression

All y’all lack aggression

Put your skirt back down, grow a set man

Nigga this shit violent

The explicit call to violence (including chain-snatching as a form of political expression) is a playful challenge to his “political connects”, namely the president.

Playful? Not to be taken seriously then?

Goldman finds an excuse for Obama’s friendship with such a man. It is, however, an excuse that condemns a large section of the population.

One should not conclude from this that Obama favors criminal violence, but rather that the popular response to Jay Z’s evocation of felonious rage is so great that Obama finds it convenient to exploit it.

The call to violence is, Goldman reminds his readers, “nothing new”:

There is nothing at all new in any of this: we heard it before from Nietzsche in his evocation of the “blond beast’s” life-affirming violence, from George Sorel, from Mussolini’s call for “creative violence”.

We could add to his list many more preachers of the virtue of violence, among them, most prominently: Robespierre, Hegel, Richard Wagner, and of course – as Goldman says – Hitler. 

Jay Z appeals to the same kind of rage that Hitler and Mussolini exploited during the interwar years.

He ascribes the rage, and the consequent readiness to respond with intense enthusiasm to Jay Z’s message, to youth unemployment, for which he gives alarming figures;  and to a falling away from conventional religion by the public in general, in support of which he quotes from an article by a Catholic journalist :

The Catholic Church is besieged by secularism and suffering from the self-inflicted injury of the sex abuse scandals. The resignation of Benedict XVI, one of its great theologians and doctrinal leaders, left its leadership uncertain. Not only Catholicism but the American Evangelical movement … is caught by the receding tide. In an Aug. 16 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Russell Moore, the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, announced, “The Bible Belt is collapsing.” Moore added, “We are no longer the moral majority. …” The Evangelicals have not retained their young people. The Pew survey reported in 2007 that 32% of Americans aged 50 to 64 are white Evangelicals, against only 13% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. The public tide has turned against religion.

To us that is good news.

Now of course if people are at work they are not at rage-rousing rallies, so we accept that unemployment may be a cause of the popular enthusiasm for a message of violent rebellion.

But as for traditional religion being an antidote to rage and rebellion, has it not rather been the paramount cause of insurrections, riots, wars, massacres, persecutions, conquests, genocides?

It doesn’t surprise us that Jay Z’s “new religion” of inarticulate violence is gathering a large and passionate following. It only confirms our pessimism.

But if the president of the United States has joined that following, then the counter-culture with all its moral filth has won. Obama endorsed it when he expressed support for the Occupy Movement. If now he accepts, or chooses to exploit, the Nazi message of Jay Z, the counter-culture has become the culture. And our pessimism may turn into despair.