Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Rap Theology

Cover Art For Rap By Will Kasso

Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds.
-Quotation From "The Bhagavad-Gita"


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Heart of Darkness: Hip Hop, Existentialist Theology, And The WASP Cult of the Other

By Prof. Andrew Fraser


Introduction

Hip-hop is another cultural artifact attracting the attention of Christians working with young people.  Back in January, at the five-day intensive university course for Youth Culture and Ministry, Andrew Root, a professor of youth ministry from Luther Seminary in Minneapolis, devoted an afternoon session to the subject.  His very effective audio-visual presentation reflected what I now recognize as the received understanding of hip-hop among progressive Black academics teaching at leading American universities.

Root left unexplored the ethno-political dimension of the hip-hop phenomenon.  My subsequent journey through the proudly ethnocentric work of several prominent Black hip-hop scholars took me to the front line of the contemporary cultural war on White America.  These Black writers describe hip-hop as a primary means by which Americans talk about race.  Debates about hip-hop, according to Tricia Rose, “stand in for discussion of significant social issues related to race, class, sexism, and Black culture.”  Commercial hip-hop provides “the fuel that propels public criticism of young Black people.”  Strangely, however, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans such as Andrew Root never ask themselves whether “the hip-hop community” (inclusive of rappers, fans, record companies, and well-connected professors) is friendly or hostile to young White people.

Is Hip-Hop Good for Black People?

While properly repulsed by the violent and crudely sexist lyrics in contemporary commercial hip hop, Black scholars emphasize “the importance of craft, innovation, media literacy, and other practices that have made hip-hop such an enduring and inspiring force in the lives of young people, especially Black youth.”  Some emphasize the ways in which the gangstas and guns, hustlers and pimps, the bitches and the hoes featured in hip-hop lyrics both reflect and contribute to “the socially and culturally toxic environment” of urban Black and Latino ghettoes.  Orlando Patterson, for example, laments “the fact that instead of artistically representing and transcending the realities of ghetto life, under the pressure of corporate packaging, elements of the street and prison culture have now been morphed into hip-hop, so much so that it is often difficult to differentiate the two.”  Others celebrate the creativity of Black youth, from the “compelling aesthetic innovations of hip-hop’s founding figures” to the “countless variations” which they inspired “in the ensuing decades.”

Accentuating the positive, Wayne Marshall observes that Black youth “have consistently proven to be early adopters of new information and communication technologies, and several savvy avatars of the so-called millennial generation have marshalled their familiarity with the digital domain into substantial followings and, in some cases, considerable commercial success.”  Since its origins in the Bronx in the early 80's, the “irrepressible refashionability” of hip-hop has invited “new participants into an increasingly translocal and mass-mediated youth culture.”

The commercial success of hip-hop came at a cultural cost, however.  While the hip-hop culture was rooted in “grassroots, amateur, local, and independent” activity, its artistic integrity came into question when “new industrial partners from corporate record labels to Hollywood studios” came upon the scene.  The result was the “dynamic, if occasionally tense, feedback loop between small-scale and corporate enterprise” that “has animated hip-hop aesthetics ever since.”

Most Black scholars view the hip-hop phenomenon as much more than a commercial success story.  It represents as well a victory for a vibrant and creative youth culture.  Marshall warns that “to ignore or suppress rather than support hip-hop’s uncontainable dynamism, its openness to shape-shifting and syncretism…represents more than a missed opportunity;” it “is tantamount to giving up on connecting with young people at all.”  It goes without saying that the young people” whose culture Marshall is celebrating are Black.

Academic sociologist, media commentator, and ordained Baptist pastor, Michael Eric Dyson is much more explicit.  He openly acknowledges that hip-hop is plays a vital role in the ethno-political rivalry between Blacks and Whites in America.  Simply put, hip-hop has been good for the Blacks.  In fact, he proclaims, “the hip-hop community has become a dominant African-American institution.”  Young Black Americans, Dyson writes, no longer “turn primarily to the church” or “to the civil rights leaders that the church produced…to articulate their hopes, frustrations.”  Hip-hop has become a folk religion among Black youth.  African-American kids, Dyson tells us, now look to rappers, not the local preacher, to “best vocalize the struggle of growing up Black and poor in this country.”

Professor Tricia Rose at prestigious Brown University is another well-known expert on the hip-hop community.  In fact, she grew up in Harlem and the Bronx in the 70's, the child of a Black bus driver and a White legal secretary.  Naturally enough, she identifies strongly with Black youth.  Not only was Rose immersed in the embryonic hip-hop community during her Bronx childhood but she was steeped as well in the extra dose of racial tension engendered by the refusal of her White mother’s parents to enter the same room as her Black father.

It may be that her mixed-race background allows her to adopt a more sceptical and nuanced stance toward the religion of hip-hop than we find in Pastor Dyson’s work.  Perhaps, too, her White grandparents’ visceral opposition to race-mixing drove her into hip-hop as “a rich alternative space for multicultural, male and female, culturally relevant, anti-racist community building." Certainly, she is extraordinarily sensitive to the evils of “White racism.”  To defend Black people against the evils of In The Hip Hop Wars, Rose roundly condemns the “commercial juggernaut” which has nearly depleted “what was once a vibrant, diverse, and complex popular genre, wringing it dry by pandering to America’s racist and sexist lowest common denominator.”  While Dyson remains upbeat, Rose worries that commercial hip-hop might actually be bad for Black people.  Neither scholar, however, makes any effort to conceal their exclusive focus on the interests and welfare of Black people.  Both writers appear to assume that if hip-hop is good for White people, then structural racism and corporate greed must be to blame.

Why then, one wonders, are White Christians engaged in youth ministry such as Andrew Root professionally and personally interested in hip-hop?  Because they believe it is good for White people?  Perhaps because it is good and/or bad for Black people?  Like millions of other White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, Root routinely signals his compassion for the marginalized and the powerless.  Certainly, hip-hop evokes in Root empathy for the suffering, cruelty, and poverty produced by the socially and culturally toxic environment of ghetto culture.  Nor is Root alone in his apparent indifference to the weaponization of hip-hop in the cultural wars waged on WASPs by other racial, religious, and ethnic groups.

Rappers, their young Black fans, and Black activist scholars such as Dyson and Rose all see hip-hop as bound up with the righteous struggle of Black people against racism and White supremacy.  In this openly-declared psychological war on White people, the hip-hop community is allied, not always happily, with corporate elites who share their hostility to middle-American White Christians.

Unfortunately, the middle-American White Protestant religious establishment has refused to come out in explicit spiritual defense of their own kinfolk; not even when they are called upon by Black rappers, Black scholars, and Black preachers to repent for America’s original sin of “Whiteness.” Michael Eric Dyson writes, lectures, and preaches the gospel of White guilt to what he calls “that ocean of White folk I encounter who are deeply empathetic to the struggles of minorities.”  He warns guilt-ridden White folks not to wait for the government to compensate Black people for the sins of slavery and segregation.  Rather every individual White person should establish right now an “Individual Reparation Account” as penance for their White privilege.

In such a toxic, anti-White, ethno-political environment, realistic Christian youth workers and responsible parents must face up to the reality of racial conflict.  They must decide: Is corporate-sponsored Black youth culture good or bad for White children and young people?  Unfortunately, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants typically refuse to take their own side in a fight.  We are hopelessly addicted to the ethno-masochistic cult of the Other.

Is Hip-Hop Good for White People?

Among WASPs, Christian humanism and the cult of the Other are more or less synonymous.  In place of a political theology capable of distinguishing between friend and enemy, Christian humanism advocates unilateral moral disarmament.  Classical political theory once inspired European Christians to act together in the public realm in pursuit of the “common good.”  Political action demands prudential distinctions between the interests of our community and their community—our friends and allies versus our enemies.  But, for Root, “the cross is not about our actions.”  The gospel is not a “call to ambitious and radical personal action.”  Salvation rests “not in human action but in God’s action.”  Youth ministry, therefore, ought not to be directed at “the ambitious and the successful.”  “The cross,” according to Root, “is not for the whole but for the broken.”

In other words, Jesus Christ died as the representative of suffering humanity at large.  Only after the Son of God descended into the dark pit of death “from which there is no return (or so it is believed) did the good news of the gospel” break “open.”  Root teaches youth workers that the cross is “a way of experiencing God in the depths of their very existence, alongside their deepest pains and yearnings.”  One day, we will “experience God in the fullness of glory and power, but today God is found in the backward and opposite.”  Experience of the cross is personal not political, existential not historical, universal and not particular.

For Root, this “is good news, because everyone who struggles with nothingness—all who find themselves alone or journeying through great experiences of hell—can be assured that they are swept up in the presence of God.”  The “very state of God’s being” has been “revealed in the cross of weakness and suffering.”  If God is absent from our prosperous and peaceful White suburbs perhaps we should look for him instead in the suffering souls of Black folk trapped in violent and decaying urban ghettoes.  Perhaps young Black people are “already at the cross” when rapping about their “own experiences of pain and abandonment.”

Black scholar-activists work energetically to promote such out-group altruism among White Americans.  For all its flaws, they say, for better or for worse, the hip-hop community is an authentic expression of Black youth culture.  At the same time, rappers make a “growing investment in fashioning their personas (as much as, say, their lyrics).”  The move to corporate recording studios encouraged rappers “to collapse their recording selves and their actual selves—all the better for imbuing performances with authenticity, that slippery coin of the realm.”  Performers boast about “keeping it real.”  They rap about gangstas and hustlers, pimps and hoes, guns and violence, they say, only because crime, violence, and prison loom so large in the life of disadvantaged Black youth.

Hip-hop, we are told, is about the generations of young Black men “warehoused” in prisons. Neither Dyson nor Rose pauses to consider whether Black men are more likely to be imprisoned because they commit more crime.  In his audio-visual presentation, Andrew Root was similarly reluctant to go there.  Instead, progressive scholars typically point out that Blacks convicted of the same offence as Whites are more likely to receive a stiffer sentence.  Citing such racial disparities, they indict the criminal justice system of what they see as structural racism, if not outright White supremacy.

During a break in Root’s audio-visual presentation, I suggested to a few students that Blacks might receive higher sentences on average than Whites because they are more likely to have prior convictions.  A lecturer in mission and apologetics attending the presentation overheard and objected to my interpretation, telling me to check my White privilege.  Speaking to virtue-signalling Whites such as that lecturer, Dyson assures them that “politically conscious rappers” offer young Black people “a means to escape suffering.”  They help young Black people to expose the “horrible intrusion” of violence, poverty, and disease “into one’s group or neighborhood, or to grapple with a White supremacist society that refuses to recognize our fundamentally humanity.”

Tricia Rose also demands sympathy and contrition from White Americans, calling upon them to face “the ways our nation has orchestrated a war on poor Black people.”  She rejects the “claim that Black people have a sexually excessive and violent culture and that they lack proper values.”  She insists that “the real sources of self-destructive behaviors” in Black communities can be traced to “centuries of compounded structural discrimination and institutional racism.”  White people may not intend to harm Black people, Rose concedes, but the oppressive structural dynamic of American society is driving young Blacks into a dark pit of despair and nothingness.

“White racism,” it appears, is in legal terms a “strict liability offence.”  Even if someone neither intends nor acts to bring about harm to another, that person, indeed the entire White race, may be convicted of wrongdoing.  White Americans are no longer permitted to plead not guilty to crimes alleged against them or their ancestors.  Theirs, in the words of Black’s Law Dictionary, is “liability without fault.”  Their “case is one of ‘strict liability’ when neither care nor negligence, neither good nor bad faith, neither knowledge nor ignorance will save defendant.”

Is Racial Realism Good for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants?

Laying such a guilt trip upon White Anglo-Saxon Protestants already fiercely committed to the egalitarian cult of the Other has not been a difficult sell.  As if by rote, Christian humanists routinely recite the platitudinous proposition that “there is no race but the human race.”  Incurably na├»ve optimists, they reject as “racist” any suggestion that there are real, measurable, and intractable differences in average intelligence or cognitive capacity, behavior, and temperament between the major racial divisions (e.g., White Europeans, East Asians, and Africans) or their subdivisions.

But what if such differences exist?  What if African Americans score on average one standard deviation lower on IQ tests than American Whites?  What if intelligence is a reliable predictor of success and well-being?  What if the sort of hyper-masculine behavior exhibited by Black males and celebrated in hip-hop is a function of their high testosterone counts as compared to White and, especially, Asian men?  What if Blacks generally have a more impulsive temperament than Whites or Asians?  Is it possible that racial disparities in such measures of social and personal well-being are a function, not of racism and White supremacy, but of evolved, hence deeply-entrenched, biocultural differences between racial groups?  None of the Black scholars that I consulted for this essay gave the slightest serious attention to that hypothesis.

There is, however, a vast and growing literature (well-known to the growing numbers of young White men attracted to identitarian movements like the American and Australian Alt-Right) which provides ample support for the proposition that the disaster that is contemporary Black America is one largely of its own making.  If so, what we see in the hip-hop community may not be the suffering Black avatar of Jesus Christ but rather a glimpse into the godless heart of darkness.  The persistent refusal by church elders and youth workers to combat those who propagate amoral cultural artefacts is not good for White people, young or old.

It is important to note, however, that the evils associated with commercial hip-hop are not the exclusive product of Black youth culture. Young Black rappers have had more than a little help from their putative friends in the Jewish community.  Curiously, neither Root nor Black scholars such as Dyson or Rose discuss the contributions made by Jews to the development of the hip-hop community.  Other sources, including many rappers, are more forthcoming.[27]  The story of hip-hop as a cultural artefact will not be complete, therefore, until we consider whether hip-hop is good for the Jews.

Is Hip-Hop Good for Jews?

It is unfortunate, to say the least, that Black hip-hop scholarship never mentions the elephant in the room: Jewish control of the music industry.  If hip-hop is, indeed, ethno-politics set to music, if hip-hop has taken the place of the civil rights movement in the hearts and minds of Black youth, it is impossible to ignore the historic Black-Jewish alliance against WASPs.  For much of the twentieth century, that alliance was a constituent element in what Black nationalist Harold Cruse called the “fateful triangular tension among national groups…coming to the fore” in the 60s.  It is a truism of American political history that, from the Leo Frank trial and the founding of the NAACP in the early twentieth century down to the Black Lives Matter movement, Jewish intellectual-activists have worked tirelessly to imbue disaffected American Negroes with their own revolutionary spirit.

Cruse was himself a Negro member of the American Communist Party.  By that time, Jews had displaced Anglo-Saxons as the vanguard of American Communism.  Unlike WASP Communists, the Jews shaped radical politics in accordance with “their own national group social ambitions or individual self-elevation.”  Negroes were relegated to the status of a national minority in the party while Jews were free to pick up or drop their Jewish identity as it suited them. This arrangement enabled Jews to become experts on “the Negro problem.”  Not surprisingly, Jewish artists, musicians, and radicals then became highly visible players in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 60's.  “As a result,” Cruse observes, “the great brainwashing of Negro radical intellectuals was not achieved by capitalism, or the capitalistic bourgeoisie, but by Jewish intellectuals in the American Communist Party.”

In the contemporary hip-hop community, Jewish leadership has been hidden behind the corporate veil.  Tricia Rose vehemently denounces the corrupting influence of corporate control on the hip-hop community but her treatment of the subject obscures the identity of the corporate high command.  The music industry is absorbed into a vast impersonal system of “White power,” a matrix whose denizens all routinely swallow the blue pill.  The closest we come to identifying those in charge is when Dyson criticizes the “White corporate interests” exploiting Black talent.

Jews are never mentioned in Dyson’s work on hip-hop.  Not surprisingly, Dyson has unimpeachable philo-Semitic credentials.  Blacks and Jews, he believes, are united in common struggles against oppression in White America.  Far be it from him ever to cast Jews as an enemy of Black folk.  On his account, Blacks love Jews and Jews love Blacks. Professor Rose also tip-toes around the issue of Jewish influence in the hip-hop community; The Hip Hop Wars has no index entry for Jews.  Only in passing does Rose name names.  But, when she does identify a few of the corporate heavyweights involved in the hip-hop community, the elephant moves onto center stage.

In a chapter on hip-hop’s responsibility for sexist and misogynist lyrics and imagery, Rose mentions a rare public appearance by leading figures in the corporate record industry.  In their statements “corporate executives such as Universal chairman Doug Morris, Warner chairman and chief executive Edgar Bronfman, Sony chairman Andrew Lack, and Viacom president and CEO Phillipe P. Dauman have defended their role as distributors of intensely sexist content by subsuming sexism under artists’ rights to express themselves freely.”  Interestingly, in the same paragraph, Rose urges us to “pull back the veil on the corporate media’s manipulation of Black male and female artists and the impact this has on fans and the direction of Black cultural expression.”  Why does she not see fit to mention that the four corporate kingpins she names are all Jews?  The ethno-political fact is that Rose leaves the corporate veil intact by ascribing blame for the corruption of the hip-hop community to an abstraction called corporate greed.  Rose heads the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University.  How can she not be aware of the stunning success Jews have had in mixing business with ethno-politics?

After all, a simple Google search on “Jews run hip hop” turns up a wealth of investigative leads for a researcher eager to see how the “triangular tension” between Jews, Negroes, and Anglo-Saxons” has accommodated itself to the new players in American ethno-politics.  Black scholars typically ignore the criticisms of Jewish control commonly made by rappers and fans.  Traditional Catholics such as E. Michael Jones are also critical of rap music as “one more manifestation of the behavior which goes along with the Jewish revolutionary spirit that took over the Black mind during the course of the 20th century.”  The Jewish revolutionary spirit has pioneered the techniques of using sex as an instrument of political control.  The hip-hop brand of sexuality is no exception.

Bearing that in mind, it comes as no surprise to learn that hip-hop is deeply involved “with the multibillion dollar pornographic industry.  The strip club has long been an integral part of both the music video and business end, but since the start of the new century, there has been a complete cross-over into pornography.”  Orlando Patterson describes scenes from these productions as “the most degrading and abusive depictions of women imaginable.”  Small wonder, then, that a Google search for “Jews run pornography” yields another treasure trove of investigative leads sure to be left unexplored (for fear of the Jews?) by both Black and White scholars.

Conclusion

Perhaps White Anglo-Saxon Protestant youth workers should swallow the red pill.  The salvation of their faith, family, and folk is at risk.  Youth workers and young White Christians, generally, must pick up the torch of truth as it slips from the failing or faithless hands of their elders in churches, schools, and colleges.  We must believe that the God of our fathers is absent from stable, prosperous, and successful WASP communities only so long as we allow our children and young people to fall under the sinister sway of the synagogue of Satan.  That evil influence has destroyed countless Black American families and their communities.  We must not follow in their path.

From Occidental Observer (June 23, 2017)

Also See: Rap Ain't Really Music.

2 comments:

  1. "the gangstas and guns, hustlers and pimps, the bitches and the hoes featured in hip-hop lyrics both reflect and contribute to “the socially and culturally toxic environment” of urban Black and Latino ghettoes."


    The emphasis on unwholesome material and an unwholesome life style is an indication that the various minorities not only live a base and depraved way of life but PREFER that debased way of life. "Hate whitey, get whitey, kill whitey."

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    Replies
    1. From an earlier MD post:

      Detailed statistics on race and crime in America are kept by the FBI. Here are some highlights from these data:

      In 2013, Black Americans were six times more likely to commit murder than non-Blacks.

      In 2014, in New York City, Blacks were 31 times more likely than Whites to be arrested for murder, and Hispanics over 12 times more likely. Blacks were over 98 times more likely to be arrested for shooting (i.e., firing a bullet that hits someone) than Whites, and Hispanics 23 times more likely. If New York were all White, the murder rate would drop by 91 percent and the shooting rate by 97 percent.

      Blacks are about 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a White person than vice-versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.

      Hispanics commit violent crimes at about three times the White rate, while Asians commit violent crimes at about one quarter the White rate.

      Hispanics are 19 times more likely than Whites to be members of youth gangs. Blacks are 15 time more likely, and Asians, nine times more likely.

      Despite recent claims by the Black Lives Matter movement and others, evidence suggests that police shootings of Blacks are no more common than would be predicted by Black crime rates and likelihood to resist arrest.

      2015 saw a disturbing rise in murder in major American cities, which may be related to “de-policing” in response to intense media and public scrutiny of police activity.

      Race and crime are related in the sense that a propensity to crime is strongly correlated to lower intelligence, shorter “time horizons” and ability to plan for the future, as well as other factors such as higher testosterone levels and lower impulse control.

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