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The ‘Danger’ Of Taking Mos Def Out Of Context

Mos Def's appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher last week was a thoroughly enjoyable event. As someone who is a fan of the show, I found Mos' comments about President Barack Obama, Osama Bin Laden, and the unlikely event of nuclear disarmament by third world nations to be entertaining. If anything, Mos was speaking in the cadence and manner as a man in an inner city barbershop and was eloquent at times when he needed to be by dropping the Ebonics and speaking in the Queen's English. At the center of an argument from the show is Mos' view that Osama Bin Laden's evil persona has been perpetuated by mainstream media to further the popular political aims popular during the time of Bin Laden's initial appearance. His opponent, Vanity Fair correspondent Christopher Hitchens who is openly drinking on air, strongly disagrees and says that he has no idea who Assata Shakur is when Mos uses her as an example of mainstream media vilifying someone with an unpopular opinion. Is Mos Def's opinion dangerous? Possibly to those who feel that they are uninformed, but before you make up your mind to disagree with him, watch the clip and remind yourself that this country was founded on a minority having opinions that did not coincide with the popular beliefs of that time.


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13 Responses

  1. so you know i am right there with mos. he was asking questions to gain understanding and this man is trying to put him in a fictional place when all mos was trying to do was ask questions. why are people threatened by questions.

  2. "Is Mos Def's opinion dangerous? Probably to those who feel like he's uninformed."
    This seems like offering up a long leash for someone's illogical ranting because we like his music.

  3. The Mighty Mos Def held it down against the very boorish Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens acted as if Mos was some kind of uneducated street nigger who dared not agree with the mighty noble Englishman. Black Dante has been on Real Time (one of the best shows on tv period) before and has shown himself to be a very brilliant mind. The funny thing about it that Mos has great point but both Rushdie and Hitchens can not get over their belief that the dirty stinking muslims want to take over the world. Don't get me wrong Bin Laden is not a good guy he helped kill 3,000 innocent human beings but the US made him in the 1980's and then turned him into this great satan. Hitchens is blow hard and he got sonned by Mos and he couldn't stand it.

  4. You guys are kidding right? This appearance was only slightly less shameful than his last one with Cornel West, in which Professor West was bending over backwards to not point out the absurdity of what he was saying.
    Up against Hitchens and Rushdie? Sad to say it but he looked like a guy who showed up to the gunfight with a knife. These guys are incredibly well informed with facts, and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories don't stand a chance up against that. Which isn't to say what Mos was saying wasn't true, he wasn't well prepared to back up his points especially not against those two.
    I know that Maher has a lot of respect for Mos and his intellect, but I think the producers of the show set him up by putting him on this panel.
    I wanted see him win this time around, really did. I just rewatched the episode to give him another shot but all I saw was fail.

  5. Mos Def was most definitely out of his league.
    He embarrassed himself.
    Osama bin Laden is the most hated figure in modern history -- and rightfully so.
    al-Qaeda oversaw the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil.
    To suggest, for the reasons Mos does, that bin Laden -- as vile a thing as he is -- is some made-up, mythical figure; to even so much as hint that there might be anything legitimate or not loathsome about al-Qaeda is not only disappointing -- but also conspiracy theory bullshit.
    Hitchens justifiably ate Mos up.
    And that this country was founded on the dissent of a minority doesn't make right this instance of that.
    Our Founding Fathers were patriots; the things Mos suggests here are unpatriotic -- and not because his views aren't widely held but because they are flatly wrong.

  6. That's the problem with most intellectuals right there. They are so pompous with thinking they know so much about everything. Their collective heads are too far up their own ass to think outside of the box. The man was asking a simple question. The American media has suppressed, manipulated, and slanted information for years.

  7. That was the most inarticulate presentation I have seen in a long time.

  8. I understood what Mos was saying- I think the audience got the gist of it. Problem is he got caught up in semantics (with a drunk man at that) The crux of what he was saying is something we've ALL heard people say MILLIONS of times since 9/11:
    "The Bush Admin had a vested goal in invading the Middle East, showed willingness to embellish and flat out lie - therefore I doubt with certainty everything we hear about Bin Laden or anyone is true or without motive. "
    Jon Stewart, practically ran this angle for 8 years straight, so its not that Mos' idea is unpopular, unfounded, or unheard of. . . he just wasn't able to explain it to a dude who was probably drunk off his ass on scotch and scholarly superiority complex.
    If Mos had just so much as referenced how in the past the U.S. supported both Bin Laden and Hussein in times when it was morally/militarily convenient - but then villified both later, he would have had an example 'Hangover Hitchens' couldn't refute.

  9. I have no problem with "Mr. Definitely" having skepticism toward the media. I am also a little surprised that all three of the other members didn't know who Assata Shakur was, although it was hilarious when a member of the audience yelled "Tupac" as it was being discussed. I can give Htichens and Rushdie a little bit of a pass as neither grew up in the United States, but Bill Maher did know who Assata Shakur was? That takes a little away from his hip liberalness.
    What I can't give Mos Def a pass for, and I know he doesn't give a ---, is that he asked a good question and then rambled as the other gentleman spoke. Rushdie and Hitchens gave pretty good answers to the question, but a third of the way in to their answers Mos Def started going off. If he is not going to trust them either don't ask. And then to say to Maher that "he knew this was going to happen." If I were Bill Maher I would say, "well yes, I did expect you to have debate about topical issues."
    Mos Def did not get the same backing of the Kool Aid drinking crowd that Michael Eric Dyson got a couple of weeks back when he all of a sudden said something to the effect of "let me finish, I'm an intellectual black man who can speak articulately about this." Well Michael, you interrupted his ridiculousness over and over again and the one time you got interrupted it went straight to your blackness? Although the other guy did think that Limbaugh isn't racist which I think is just funny.

  10. Mos Def displayed a perfect example of when conspiracy theories go wrong.
    Can the media be trusted?- NOOOOO a free society needs rational thinkers who can look at things from different angles and since our current media outlets are a little more than corporate backed reality shows it makes perfectly good sense to question their every motive.
    But to go on the deep end and say is Bin Laden real is just silly. The question is why is he potrayed as a supervillian mastermind? It is my understanding that he wasn't the true mastermind behind 911 just a possible funding source and face spoutting B.S. Bin Laden wasn't even respected in the loose terrorist cells who became the face of the enemy in Bushes war on Terror. So if he was saying Bushes mishandling of the situation empowered a enemy who pretty much caught a giant sleeping and for a brief moment stole the worlds attentions in an act of terror then ok I can see that. But if he is on some conspiracy theory based on tin foil hat theories that come from back room net discussions like this post forget that crap.
    Mos just needs to do more reaserch and make informed statements when in serious discussions.

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  12. The scene where he rolls behind the live newscast is totally hilarious. Wish I lived in the UK so I could have had a chance of seeing that news show live.

  13. I love how he rants about how entitled all these kids are while acting he has some great god given talents. Unless that talent is bitterness.



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