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Good morning, Iraq

Hip-hop was a topic of debate this week in the conservative blogosphere, with online pundits outraged that Armed Forces Radio may increase its rap spins.

According to Stars and Stripes, a daily newspaper for servicemen and their families, a team of media consultants recently recommended Armed Forces Radio air more hip-hop and pop, and less country music and talk shows (including NPR and Rush Limbaugh) in order to boost ratings.

Lund Media Research surveyed 1,125 AFR listeners between January and April, and conducted 10 focus groups. Based on the findings, it recommended restructuring the two stations that broadcast globally. The first station would be pop and hip-hop and the second station would have classic rock and alternative play lists. A third station, which would only be broadcast in select areas, could feature country music and talk radio.

Lund claims that talk radio is not a major draw for listeners under 34, and that country music is difficult to mesh with other formats, given the fact that it is intensely disliked by a portion of the audience. The consulting group also suggested axing sports programming, which has a limited audience among the troops.

Conservative commentators and bloggers seem to have decided that this is a hip-hop vs. Rush Limbaugh issue. Go figure.

Fox News radio host/columnist John “Stop the War on Christmas!” Gibson gleefully sounds the alarm in this week’s column.

In the process, Gibson gets his knickers all in a knot. He balks at the prospect of soldiers being fed a “steady diet of hip-hop,” not so much because of the music, but because of the ideas expressed in it:

“In the hip-hop format, the ideas are misogynistic — women hating — plus some street guns, some pimpin’ and the whole phenomena of fathering kids and moving on.

I know there are young service people who like hip hop. That’s fine. They should be able to buy the stuff.

But does American Forces Radio really want to be pushing the ideas we hear in hip-hop?

It’s bad enough that these ideas will be drifting into the heads of our service people, but American Forces Radio also reaches a lot of people in the countries where America has bases. Do we really need to spread hip-hop in more places than it has already spread?”


There’s a whole wack of reasons why this is utterly ridiculous. To begin with, when it comes to sexism, it must be noted that Rush Limbaugh is hardly a beacon of gender equality himself. I believe the term “feminazi” is one that he’s particularly fond of.

Plus, the idea that soldiers have naïve, impressionable minds that must be protected is pretty silly. Dudes are at war. I can’t imagine there’s any act of violence they will hear on wax that they haven’t already dealt with in real life. (Speaking of violence, if conservative America is so against it, how come they support the war?)

And if absent fathers are a major concern, one has to wonder how all the army kids feel about their pops being shipped off to foreign countries for combat.

But the bit about cultural imperialism that Gibson sneaks in at the end—the idea that hip-hop is spreading like a virus across the planet, infecting other nations with its pimped-out, gun-toting shenanigans—is what’s particularly laughable.

Let’s try to get some perspective here. My guess is that folks in other countries are a lot less concerned about American hip-hop tracks invading their airwaves than they are about the U.S. military invading their streets. Just a thought.

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