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White House Defends Common

As conservatives continue to vilify Common as a violent hatemonger, a White House spokesman has vindicated the decision to include the rapper/actor in an upcoming poetry event.

As previously reported, Fox News and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have blasted Common, who was invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to appear at a White House event yesterday afternoon (May 11) dedicated to celebrating American poetry.

Fox News pundit Sean Hannity devoted a segment of his show to the issue, dubbing Com a “controversial rapper and poet” with a “running list of controversial comments” and claiming that the Obama administration “will never learn its lesson.”

In a press conference, Press Secretary Jay Carney said that while President Barack Obama opposes and “has spoken very forcefully out against violent and misogynist lyrics,” he supports the Grammy-winning artist’s many positive contributions to hip-hop and poetry at large. Carney also noted that it’s “ironic” to select out hateful lyrics from a rapper who is widely considered positive and socially aware.

“While the President doesn’t support the kind of lyrics that have been raised here … we do think that some of these reports distort what Mr. Lynn stands for, more broadly, in order to stoke a controversy,” Carney said. “Within the genre of hip-hop and rap, [Common] is what’s known as a conscience rapper — or a conscious rapper, rather. And I would quote a report just six months ago from Fox News where he was described as a rap legend and quote, ‘Your music is very positive and you’re known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?’”

Carney said the President has also taken note of Common’s extensive work with youth.

“I think that one of the things that the President appreciates is the work that Mr. Lynn has done with children, especially in Chicago,” Carney said, “trying to get them to focus on poetry, as opposed to some of the negative influences of life on the street.” —Lauren Carter

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