Friday, November 12, 2010

No, Kanye Should Not Have Apologized to Bush

kanye_west_bush

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action

One of the proudest moments in my life as a political observer was when Kanye West did something that almost no other artist or entertainer would be astute or courageous enough to do. In 2005, as people were dying in the streets of New Orleans, West used the powerful platform provided to him during a Hurricane Katrina telethon to make the statement heard around the world: ”George Bush does not care about black people.”

I applauded Kanye’s remarks, for not since the great Muhammad Ali have we seen any athlete or entertainer willing to look beyond the temptation of a little more bling to actually fight for a meaningful cause. Yes, Kanye could have been more diplomatic, but diplomacy is not the order of the day when dead bodies are floating on every other street.

You can probably imagine my dismay after finding out that Kanye has now backed off of his powerful statement. This week on “The Today Show,” West expressed remorse for his remarks in an apology to former President George W. Bush. Rather than being consistent and firm in his disposition, he’s now part of the establishment, where waffling on your principles is fully expected. Bush deserved no apology, for you don’t apologize to a criminal after repudiating him for an egregious crime.

Kanye missed an opportunity with his public apology. He missed the same opportunity that Muhammad Ali had when he chose between going to jail or signing on for a cushy role in the U.S. military. He missed the same opportunity that Nelson Mandela had when he was offered a chance to get out of prison early by renouncing his political beliefs. Overall, Kanye missed the chance to transcend hip hop and grow into the kind of legendary figure he could have become. Nelson and Muhammad did not fail when faced with even more intimidating moments of truth, which is why the world will remember their contributions forever. Of course, the pressure exerted on West pales in comparison to what Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela were facing, but the point remains the same.

By apologizing for his statement that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” West is effectively arguing that “George Bush does care about black people.” For some reason, that which we deem to be diplomatic is often a direct exchange of the uncomfortable truth for a cozy, graceful lie. Bush led the charge on mass incarceration of black men in the state of Texas and executed more black men than any gang banger in America. He flew over the city of New Orleans in a helicopter while thousands of black men, women and children were left abandoned by a government that considered these “refugees” as nothing more than a nuisance. With all the deaths of black men that George W. Bush has caused during his political career, it is sad and tragic that Kanye West feels the need to validate a tyrant with a public apology.

Since Kanye isn’t strong enough to carry the torch on this issue, perhaps we should carry it for him. So, let’s say it to ourselves right now: “George Bush does not care about black people.” Some may choose to pretend like Katrina never happened. You can try to forget about those dead bodies, lost livelihoods and tortured souls that endured this astonishing tragedy. You can try to act like Bush and his cronies cared for the people of New Orleans the way they would have taken care of the people of Beverly Hills. But you and I know that by letting Bush and his friends off the hook, we’d be showing disrespect to the people who lost their lives. It may be five years later, but we cannot let go of this experience. Katrina must be remembered always.


Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the book, “Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

West is a moron and a mama's boy. President Obama was right to call him a jackass, and he hasn't stopped braying yet. He had an opportunity to remind people how the government failed the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and what does he do? He apologizes to the people reponsible, vindicating them, and then lets Matt Lauer set him up, showing him making a fool out of himself at that awards ceremony. Does he really believe they are going to forgive him and kiss and make up? No...and Bush used his interview to continue to lie about what happened during his presidency, and now he has West as cover. Bush can now say that even the black people are apologizing to him. Kanye West should just STFU. I don't recall black America asking him to be their spokesperson, and the media is ever anxious to make a fool out of anyone willing to step up to the mike.

Susie said...

You are right, Dr. Watkins. George Bush is not owed any apology. I watched the Today's show's recap on the day following the interview. Matt Lauer seemed to feel the need to defend the (Today Show's/Matt Lauer's treatment of Kanye West. From what I saw, it was Matt Lauer who said "and you're sorry?" in response to Kanye's conciliatory admission that no, he did not have statistics to support his statement that Bush doesn't care about Black people. Kanye didn't apologize - Matt Lauer asked the apologizy and Kanye said "yeah,..." (I feel) as in, "I understand you." Then Kanye continued to TRY to explain what he meant at the time and means now.
I was hoping that Kanye would have responded that although he/Kanye did not have a stack of statistical data to support "George Bush doesn't like Black people," the statement Kanye made appeared to be correct when one reviews the fact that someone (someone who was the country's president who can send food, water, and supplies to OTHER countries) flew over a city of dead bodies; and homeless hot, thirsty, starving babies, children, adults (including older/senior citizen adults); some in chronic poor health and needing medical care! It took how long just to send bottled water to New Orleans!??? Then armed military people stand with guns pointed at victims of the hurricane, protecting the bottled water from people who desperately needed water and food??? What??? Thank God for General Honore! It was expected that the hurricane would be catastrophic before it hit, and we knew the day that all of those people were stranded in the Superdome that the hurricane had been catastrophic. And George dub-yah had his picture taken, flying over the city??? As if what???? "George Bush is looking at you from above?" Pul-leese!!
Anyhow, to my recollection, Kanye did not apologize. Matt Lauer said the apology and Kanye responded "yeah,"... and then Kanye TRIED to explain that he was trying to word his response so that the true meaning would not be lost. Matt interrupted again. I am not a Kanye fan. I didn't know who Kanye was when he made the statement that "George Bush doesn't care about Black people," but I applauded him then for his public calling out of George Bush; and I agree with you now, Dr. Watkins, that NO apology is due George Bush. Dub-yah's actions (or the lack thereof) SHOWED that he doesn't care about Black people. And let's not start talking about George's mother's ignorant remark that it has "worked out well for them" when people were sleeping/living in the Houston stadium. Lord, help us....

Anonymous said...

DR. BOYCE, I WHOLE-HEARTEDLY AGREE WITH YOU.
I TOO WAS SO PROUD OF KANYE AT THAT TIME INSPITE OF THE PUBLIC BLUNDERS HE'S MADE SINCE THEN. BUT THIS APOLOGY COMING AT A TIME WHEN REPUBLICANS WANT TO LULL AMERICA TO SLEEP WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR ARROGANT, RACIST, POWER-HUNGRY ENDEAVORS IS NOT AT ALL NECESSARY. KANYE HAS NOW CLOSED HIS EYES TO THE TRUTH THAT HE ONCE POINTED OUT SO BRILLIANTLY. HOPEFULLY EVERYONE CAN SEE THE LOAD OF CROCK BEHIND IT.

Anonymous said...

Mandela renouncing his political beliefs. He wasn't released because he wouldn't renounce violence (the ANC). And Muhammad Ali did not fight for anything goog. He was a class a Black supremacist, nationalist, seperatist ect. All those recist terms.