Somebody Blew Up America

[Note: This is re-posted from my weekly spoken word video/commentary for The Progressive magazine.]

That there is even any controversy over building a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan – the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque“- makes me wonder: do we Americans know the depth of our hypocrisy? Or do we really forget the past that quickly?

Amiri Baraka, the legendary poet and activist, knows his history, and isn’t afraid to remind us in his piece, “Someone Blew Up America.” The controversial poem, written in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, became the focus of a battle royal in which the governor of New Jersey demanded Baraka’s resignation as the state’s Poet Laureate. Baraka refused, and when the governor had no legal ability to fire him, the state legislature passed a bill in 2003 eliminating the poet laureate position all together.

Freedom of speech in New Jersey then, freedom of religion in New York now. God bless America.

[Check out more entries from The Progressive spoken word series. We’ve got folks like Blue Scholars, George Watsky, and some dude named Chris Rock up there. We’re always looking for new content, so if you’ve got a good video with a good message, send it my way.]