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Passions in Poetry

Amiri Baraka

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hush
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0 posted 01-24-2003 05:05 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Is anyone else following this whole thing?

Has anyone else read 'Somebody Blew Up America' -I think that's the title?

Uh, summary: The White Man caused 9/11, Israel and Bush knew it was going to happen and let 3,000 people die.

'Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?'

Well... anyway, I'm not a real supporter of Baraka's social convictions... I think he makes some valid points (is the above accusation true? did 4000 Israelis avoid TWC? I seem to remember hearing some rumor, and had assumed it to be such...) about consistent oppression on the part of certain nations playing a role in causing this, but blame the White Man is a big freakin cop out...

Well... according to Bill O'Reilly (I know, hardly the most neutral source when attacking liberals, especially radicals like Baraka) he's teaching young Newark children poetry, and furthermore, according to polls, something like 49% of parents approve...

I'd be interested to know exactly what he's teaching kids... whether it's his political stance, or something about the actual uses, mechanics, and value of poetry... I haven't had a chance to look much up on this...

Anyway, I'm not sure if Philosophy is the best place for this? Kind of just looking for discussion, wondering what people think of this situation, or of Baraka in general?  

There are no Mr. Smiths in Washington.

abbe
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1 posted 01-25-2003 08:20 AM       View Profile for abbe   Email abbe   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for abbe

Baraka is one of my favorite writers.  i slogged through a book of his words and found it valuable.  his attitudes have changed a lot throughout his life.  some is really angry... some is really beautiful.  he is a man with a strong voice and says what he says with a great deal of passion and power.

the poem you referenced brought a lot of negative comments, but that it offended does not make it invalid.  i applaud his standing by his convictions and refusing to step down from his position.  i vote with him.
hush
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2 posted 01-25-2003 08:42 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I never said the poem was invalid... I put some stock in the fact that America has behaved in ways that lead to people in the middle-east hating us- I'm not going to say "This is all America's fault!" but we sure as hell contributed to the causes.

However, I think there is a constructive way to point this out and a destructive way... Baraka's is a destructive way. Is his intent constructive? I don't think so... being divisive only makes you enemies, and enemies do not listen to your point of view. In this sense, fighting a war (the anti-war vs. the pro-war Americans, which for the most part can be rephrased liberals vs. conservatives) doesn't get anyone to listen to ou, to see your point of view... it's just to see who's stronger- in this case, who has the stronger argument.

Even from that point of view, I still think "blame the White Man" is overly simplistic and inneffective.

I'd just like to point out that I'm against the war for the same reasons I'm against Baraka's method of argument- it's destructive. It's just gonna win us more enemies, and looked at from a totally self-interested point of view, it puts us in more danger to have more enemies.

If I ever heard any "this is what we're going to do to prevent this from happenning again" arguments, I don't even know if I'd oppose the war- (in terms of reasons to go. I oppose war in general, but sometimes not fighting does produce worse results- can we say appeasement in WWII?)

But... in lieu of a solid plan for prevention of more violence and terrorism, I think we're going to get our greedy hands on oil and piss the entire world off. *sigh*

There are no Mr. Smiths in Washington.

abbe
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3 posted 01-25-2003 09:23 AM       View Profile for abbe   Email abbe   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for abbe

i don't dissagree with your statements...

i am not for war!  i think it heineous to go into a country suffering oppression and damage the damaged further.  reasons for war are not valid.  the oppression needs to be stopped... but, hopefully, by some means other than war.

i think anyone's opinion is valid, however.  even if i don't agree.  i must respect a person who will not back down from their stance just because it brings controversy.  i do not think mr baraka needs to deny his feelings or state that because his statements angered some that he should "step down" from an honored position.  he has a right to his opinion... a right to make his statements.  we have the right to dissagree.
hush
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4 posted 01-26-2003 10:25 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I think it's an interesting topic... first of all, I don't see why anyone's surprised or offended that Baraka wrote the poem... or wait, did they just want a big name poet? He's been much more controversial than "Blame the White Man" in the past, you know, when he's basically stated (metaphorically?) "Kill the White Man" more than once. How could anyone not expect him to write something controversial?

But does a position like that demand a sort of decorum? Everybody pitched a fit when Clinton got himself some extra-marrital action... should we demand that our leaders behave in a way that's morally acceptable to us? (If that's the case, I shake my head in dissapointment that so many find Bush's moral stances and actions acceptable...)

Maybe a more valid question is this: Should Baraka be allowed to teach young children his extreme political views? I agree with you that everyone's opinion has validity... but who's going to be defending the "White Man"? Indoctrinating a younger generation of black children into a cycle of race hatred which can, and to a degree, has been halted, is only going to perpetuate the problem that the civil rights movement sought to end.

Like I said before, the above is speculation, because I'm not at all sure about what he is teaching school children, and I'm positive it's not as black-and-white (no pun intended) as O'Reily would have it.
Local Rebel
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5 posted 01-26-2003 10:53 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I'm not sure exactly why you feel that O'Reilly is conservative but that's beside your point (try listening to Micheal Savage or spend some time with Rush  -- then do Donohue so you can get some perspective -- Bill comes in slightly right of center).

Anyone who would believe that there is a vast Jewish conspiracy (Henry Ford), a vast conservative conspiracy (Hillary Clinton), a vast liberal conspiracy (Micheal Savage), a vast satanic conspiracy (Jerry Falwell), a vast Republican conspiracy (Ross Perot), a vast communist conspiracy (McCarthy) is not totally sane.  But then again -- who is?  There are conspiracies sometimes -- and just because someone is paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't being followed.

Spike Lee thinks Reagan manufactured aids to kill black people.  Does that disqualify him as a film maker?

Baraka is a lunatic.  But it's working for him.  He and O'Reily are using each other for publicity and ratings.  Limbaugh used to accuratly say "the purpose of a caller is to make the host look good" (at least he was honest about it.)  O'Reily had Baraka on for the sensationalism of it all -- and to make himself look good -- he follows the old lawyers addage -- never ask a question unless you know what the answer is going to be.
hush
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6 posted 01-27-2003 09:09 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Why do I feel O-Reilly is conservative? Well, he likes to bad-mouth liberals and seems to champion fundamentalist causes... I don't claim to be an expert on politics or anything, and it's not like he's so conservative that I can't listen to him- but he's fair when it serves whatever he agrees with, and he bullies people who hold politcial opinions he feels are absurd, often bringing them on the show merely to prevent them from stating their case... That said, I watch the show because I think the issues it addresses are usually interesting, and almost always approached in a very provoking manner.
Opeth
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7 posted 01-28-2003 09:22 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Local Rebel,

That was a well-thought and most excellent reply.

hush
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8 posted 01-29-2003 11:35 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Just going back to address something else here...

Local Rebel said:

'Spike Lee thinks Reagan manufactured aids to kill black people.  Does that disqualify him as a film maker?'

I think the only movie of his I've ever seen is Summer of Sam... I really liked that movie, it stands as on of my favorites. But I wouldn't advocate using it as a teaching tool in a grade school, because I think the material is innappropriate for little kids- or, to avoid a blanket statement, I think it would be innappropriate for at least some children, and even if the children handled it well, I'm willing to bet there are at least some parents who would consider it innappropriate for their children.

I never attempted to disqualify Baraka as a poet. I think he has some talent, he's written a couple of poems I really like. But is his 9/11 poem appropriate for children- or, if he is the only person teaching children poetry, is this the only point of view kids should associate with poetry?

Like I said, I don't know what he's teaching kids- if he's just holding readings in schools, or if he's actually conducting some type of seminar on the importance of poetry and its functions, including the social and political functions he utilizes it for... I don't want it to seem like I'm making a case against the guy, because I can't without knowing exactly what he is doing in schools... all I'm saying is that it's valid to question what someone of his (or any) extreme ideas will teach kids, and whether they'll teach it as fact or opinion...
Brad Majors
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9 posted 02-03-2003 12:59 PM       View Profile for Brad Majors   Email Brad Majors   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad Majors

I do not have to agree or disagree with a poet to appreciate thier point of view. For a better understanding about him why not go to the library and look him up and you'll find that he ahs always had "extreme views" . which is humorous to me because they knew his work before they hired him as laurette. I think he is a powerful poet if nothing else then to get us thinking
Stephanos
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10 posted 02-04-2003 03:05 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

No offense, but I do not admire destructive views, or any artistic expression designed to incite hatred and ill will among people.  The air behind this seems to me no different than what's behind those who actually did cause the terrors of 9/11.  To make "white" people to be the personification of evil is just an expression of unforgiveness, hatred, and anger that borders on paranoia.  It's ironic that the KKK is mentioned in his poetry, because the ideology of hatred is no different, regardless of what side it happens to be on.  It's the Klan all over again, but in black sheets this time.


Stephen.  


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (02-04-2003 03:06 AM).]

hush
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11 posted 02-04-2003 08:01 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Brad M.-

If you actually bothered to read everything I've posted in this thread, you'd realize that I've said exactly what you just said.

Stephan-

'To make "white" people to be the personification of evil is just an expression of unforgiveness, hatred, and anger that borders on paranoia.'

I, personally, can see the point- white European settlers set up a system in this country for racial segregation and prejudice- we brought black people over in chains, we massacred Indians, and the Spanish forced Central American women into so much sex slavery that they created an entirely new ethnicity- the Mexicans.

However, saying that in light of those things, all white people are inherently bad, is, as you said, a simple inversion of the hatred. So, what's the point? White people are bad? Isn't that the point white people have been busy spreading about blacks? Does it make it any better for someone who's an underdog to do it?

Martin Luther King's way works... I guess nobody sees peaceful negotiations as an alternative in any area of life...
Stephanos
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12 posted 02-04-2003 09:12 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush,

You are right in saying that "white Europeans" have done much wrong in history.  Where this kind of thinking can go awry is when there is an over simplification, especially in the area of blame.  African slaves were also sold to white men by dominant tribal leaders.  They actually sold their own slaves of war in many instances.  Black betraying Black.  My point?  It's just not justifiable or accurate to single out one ethnic group, or a people with a common physical characteristic, and make them out to be the epitome of oppression.  Every color, race and ethnic group has been involved in some form of oppression, to some degree, against their own and others.  What ought to be looked down upon is hatred and oppression wherever it is found, not physical characteristics.  This is how racism breeds, when evil action is associated inextricably with the physical forms that carried it.


Stephen.
Stephanos
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13 posted 02-04-2003 09:19 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush wrote:

" White people are bad? Isn't that the point white people have been busy spreading about blacks?"


I would rather say that's the point that racists have been busy spreading about anyone who happens to be different.  I really don't think that white people as a whole have been busy doing anything like this, nor black people as a whole.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (02-04-2003 09:21 PM).]

Local Rebel
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14 posted 02-09-2003 10:02 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

hush -- it is agreed that O'Reilly does hold some conservative viewpoints -- and some liberal viewpoints -- with a slight emphasis on the former -- but that's what defines a centrist -- centrists aren't people who sit around trying to make up their minds or make no decision and ride the fence -- they hold a mixed bag of positions -- which is why they are despised by both extremes -- to an idealog anyone who holds even one view that is out of sync with the party line implies that there may be logic and thought required outside of lockstep agreement.

Stephen -- I'll give an amen to being against destructive and hateful speech -- but I have to be for allowing it   and I also agree that racism is color blind (ahem) but I think it may be extreme to color the intent of a person like Baraka into the 9/11 ilk.
Local Rebel
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15 posted 02-09-2003 10:13 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Oh, BTW, thanks for the compliment Opeth but I must confess -- I haven't the time to compose cogent responses -- if it turned out that way I'm sure it must have been an accident -- I just type off the top of my head.
Brad
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16 posted 02-09-2003 06:58 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I haven't read much Amiri Barak but what I have read doesn't impress me much.

O'Reilly is a conservative in attitude if not on every issue (Who is anything on every issue?). If you call him a centrist that just means the center has shifted over the last twenty years.

But, to be honest, I miss Fox news. We now get the BBC -- which has got to be the most boring news channel ever imagined. At least Fox was infuriatingly entertaining.



hush
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17 posted 02-10-2003 11:41 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Stephan-

'It's just not justifiable or accurate to single out one ethnic group, or a people with a common physical characteristic, and make them out to be the epitome of oppression.'

Well, that's exactly my point in questioning Baraka's convictions here. Still, the fact remains that in America, the system was set up by white European men. I think it's very valid to question this system, and in that sense I do think that "blame the White Man" can be seen on a more metaphoric level than just literally pointing the finger at white people. I think it means working against the once overt, now more subversive elements of oppression in American society.

Where I think "blame the White Man" becomes a cop out comes back to what you said- by blaming everything on one empowered groups, all disenfranchised groups can claim a get out of jail free card- it's not my fault, it's the White Man's.

Also, when I said

'White people are bad? Isn't that the point white people have been busy spreading about blacks?'

I was being sarcastic. When someone makes a blanket statement about white people being bad and oppressive as a whole, since white men often propogated misinformation and generalities about minorities, isn't making that generality about the White Man just as bad? Not all White Men actively participate in the oppression of minorities and women- in fact, some work actively to promote civil rights. However, scapegoating an entire ethnicity isn't going to endear you to them... and it might create a negative stereotype about the ethnic/political/cultural background(s) you represent.

Local Rebel...

Okay, I'm not a long-time viewer of the O'Reilly factor, so I admittedly ahve limited scope- however, I do think that the only liberal principles I've ever heard him stick up for are first amendment rights- and he damn well better stick up for those, he's a journalist and he pisses a lot of people off. Still, he even has some conservative bents when it comes to that- the ACLU is fascist? I think they can be overly politically correct in some cases, but come on. The words 'under God' are still in the Pledge... and I fully supported getting them taken off. So why is everyone scared of the name 'Christmas' being eliminated from their winter holiday? Ain't gonna happen.

I'm getting off track, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead (maybe?) lol.
Stephanos
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18 posted 02-10-2003 07:18 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Local Rebel,

... " I think it may be extreme to color the intent of a person like Baraka into the 9/11 ilk."


Agreed.  I just notice that in some aspects it is the same mindset, only progressed to a different stage of action.  Hatred is hatred.  And blame is blame.


Stephen.  
 
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