Twist­ing in the wind

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Bill O’Reilly

Yhave you heard of a rap­per named "Twista"? As with many in the hiphop in­dus­try, his chants are full of vi­o­lence and ho, ho, ho's, with no con­nec­tion to the Yule sea­son. He lib­er­ally throws around the "N-word," which I be­lieve the NAACP wants banned, and of­ten men­tions shoot­ing peo­ple to death with guns. He's quite a fel­low.

So, nat­u­rally, the McDon­ald's Cor­po­ra­tion, which fea­tures a clown as a pitch­man and has in­stalled play­grounds in front of many stores, hired "Twista" to ap­pear on a pro­mo­tional con­cert tour. But many peo­ple were not "lovin' it." They loudly protested the hir­ing, so, af­ter a few days, McDon­ald's fired the guy.

At first glance, this is no big deal. A ma­jor cor­po­ra­tion makes a dopey de­ci­sion and then wises up. Hap­pens all the time. But look­ing deeper, there are some very trou­bling things in play here.

There is no ques­tion that McDon­ald's mar­kets its food to fam­i­lies and younger peo­ple. "Twista" ap­peals to a young de­mo­graphic, but his prod­uct is so dis­turb­ing that you have to won- der what kind of cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tive could pos­si­bly think it would be ap­pro­pri­ate for any mass mar­ket pre­sen­ta­tion.

But, sadly, some peo­ple do not think say­ing the "F-word" dozens of times in a three­minute record­ing is in­ap­pro­pri­ate. Nor do they see any harm in glo­ri­fy­ing drug use or de­mean­ing women. That at­ti­tude is a sig­nif­i­cant change in our coun­try in the past few years.

Far more im­por­tantly, how­ever, is the ef­fect "Twista" and his fel­low thug rap­pers are hav­ing on race re­la­tions. In the 1960s and ' 70s, when civil rights ad­vance­ments were be­ing made all over the coun­try, black ath­letes and en­ter­tain­ers were al­most all pos­i­tive role mod­els.

As a kid grow­ing up in the all­white sub­urb of Le­vit­town, N.Y., I loved base­ball player Wil­lie Mays, and I couldn't get enough of the Mo­town sound. I bought ev­ery Temp­ta­tions and Four Tops record as soon as I could.

So, when I heard some nasty stuff about blacks from Ne­an­derthals in my neigh­bor­hood, I didn't get it. Wil­lie Mays was ter­rific. Bill Rus­sell was phe­nom­e­nal. If you didn't like Aretha Franklin, there was some­thing wrong with you.

I re­mem­ber chal­leng­ing the bias by ask­ing: "You don't even know any black peo­ple, why are you rip­ping them?" I never got a clear an­swer to that ques­tion from the anti-black con­stituency in Le­vit­town.

In my es­ti­ma­tion the sports and mu­si­cal suc­cess of black Amer­i­cans back then greatly aided the fight for equal­ity. I'm sure mil­lions of Amer­i­can kids like me re­jected big­otry be­cause of what we saw in the me­dia: Blacks do­ing good things and adding fun to our lives.

But to­day, if you turn on the mu­sic chan­nels and even Black En­ter­tain­ment Television, you see vile things. Does this com­bat or re­in­force neg­a­tive African-Amer­i­can stereo­types? You know the an­swer to that ques­tion.

So "Twista" and his twisted brethren may seem to be a mi­nor an­noy­ance but, in re­al­ity, they are neg­a­tively im­pact­ing the en­tire coun­try. Their garbage helps no one. They don't de­serve a break to­day. Or any other day.

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