All right, now that I caught your attention, let me immediately establish that I do not think we are going to have a "fiasco" because hearing Lupe Fiasco should not be an issue at the upcoming fall concert. (I.e. the “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!” chants of last fall's concert.) I am, however, somewhat taken aback by (if not unhappy about) the scheduling of this controversial artist for our fall concert, someone whose songs and overall persona have a strong and sometimes shocking political bent.
I am talking in particular about a comment Lupe Fiasco made last year calling President Obama a terrorist. This sounds ignorant, hateful, and stupid, so when I first heard this (admittedly I did not know much about Fiasco beforehand) I was shocked. My anger abated slightly when I read the larger context of his statement, reproduced here:
“My fight against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is Obama in the United States of America. I'm trying to fight the terrorism that's actually causing the other forms of terrorism. You know, the root cause of terrorism is the stuff the U.S. government allows to happen. The foreign policies that we have in place in different countries that inspire people to become terrorists.”
Fiasco is not like those conspiracy theorists who think Obama is some kind of Manchurian agent; what he means is Obama’s foreign policies propagate the hatred which in turn inspires terrorist attacks against us.
Obama won a Nobel Prize on the basis of his foreign outreach.
While I cannot agree with Lupe Fiasco’s views on our President (and have serious difficulty seeing how anyone else could), I do defend his right to his own opinion and applaud the decision to bring him to campus despite the fact he is “out there” on the political spectrum. An artist should not be censored on the basis of his perspective, his work should be judged solely for its quality, and I freely acknowledge I do not have the musical background (especially in rap) to criticize his work intelligently.
Of course, not contracting a certain performer on the basis of his political standpoint doesn’t legally constitute censorship, but the spirit of censorship still exists and should be resisted.
I have heard it said that it does not make sense for Boston College to be relatively lenient on this matter when it has been more morally proactive (or just uptight, based on your point of view) with other issues. I will end here by saying that I think this relative tolerance is a progressive move.