Un-"Common" Thoughts

May 12, 2011


Raynard Jackson


Last night Michelle Obama hosted an “Evening of Poetry” at the White House.  She invited an eclectic group of poets to recite their poetry.  But, Fox News and right wing radio has singled out one performer—the Grammy award winning rapper Common—to be on the receiving end of their ire.


I don’t listen to his music, but from talking with friends who know him, he seems to be a nice enough guy and is very talented!  But, he has one song about shooting a policeman, therefore conservative media objected to him being invited to the White House. 


These conservatives are now making the argument, that since Common was invited to the White House, President and Ms. Obama, must agree with his lyrics.  Anyone with a brain knows this is idiotic, but welcome to the world of right wing media.


The Obama’s have a right to invite whomever they choose to the White House. 


You can’t take a single or few events in a person’s life and let that be the definitive narrative of his life.  For example, Michael Vick should not have his whole life defined by his run it with the law if he continues to exemplify the level of maturity he has in the past year.  We all make mistakes. 


Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., hails from Chicago, IL.  He had a middle class upbringing and attended Florida A & M University where he studied business.  He has earned two Grammys (best R & B song in 2003 for “Love of My Life and best rap performance by a duo or group in 2007 for “Southside”).


Though an unabashed liberal, he has dedicated himself to trying to make a positive difference in the lives of the youth.  For this, he should be commended!


What I find amazing about right wing media is they seem to be for free speech—as long as they agree with what you are saying.


If they were consistent with their feigned outrage over Common, then I could accept their views.  But, I find their outrage very inconsistent and very selective.  They make it seem as though Obama is the only president to associate with an entertainer who have expressed some controversial things. 


Where was their outrage over former president Ronald Reagan’s tribute to Bruce Springsteen?


On September 19, 1984, Reagan was at a campaign stop in Hammonton, New Jersey and he said, “America’s future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts…it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire…New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.”  Springsteen is best known for his monster hit song “Born in the U.S.A.”  But, on this same album is a song titled “Working On The Highway.”  The song is about a man who has sex with an underage girl and is subsequently arrested by the police and convicted in a court of law.  Here are a few of the words: 

“I saved up my money and I put it all away
I went to see her daddy but we didn't have much to say
"Son can't you see that she's just a little girl
She don't know nothing about this cruel cruel world"

We lit out down to Florida we got along all right
One day her brothers came and got her and they took me in a black and white (police car)
The prosecutor kept the promise that he made on that day
And the judge got mad and he put me straight away
I wake up every morning to the work bell clang (jail)
Me and the warden go swinging on the Charlotte County road gang

Working on the highway...


President Nixon invited racist Elvis Presley to the White House.  Presley spent a lifetime letting people know how he felt about Blacks!


President Carter invited the legendary group, Crosby, Stills, & Nash to visit him in the White House.  According to their own biography, “One of us, and I will not say who, lit a joint in the Oval Office just to be able to say he’d done it, you know?”


The other irony is that a lot of these same conservatives claim very publically their friendship to entertainers whose lyrics are no different than those they criticize Common for.


Sarah Palin is a huge fan of rocker, Ted Nugent.  Here are the words to one of his songs, “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.” 


That Nadine, what a teenage queen…She lookin' so clean, especi'lly down in between…She's so sweet when she yanks on my meat.”  Is this the type of “family values” Palin has in mind?


Last year Elton John was reportedly paid $1 million to perform at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding reception.  John is the same person who referred to Christians as “Jesus Freaks” in his hit song “Tiny Dancer.”


When right wing media begin to show their moral outrage evenly, then and only then, can I support their feigned righteous indignation.  But, until then, they should remain quiet and focus on the more pressing issues facing our country.


They should also show some respect for the office of the president.  This should be a common courtesy!


Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine ( & U.S. Africa Magazine ( 

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