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Behind the Controversy Over Rapper Common's Invitation to the White House

1:58 PM, May 11, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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There's been something of a furor over the invitation of the rapper Common to the White House. Common is typically associated with so-called "positive" hip-hop; however, his politics are very left-wing and some of his lyrics have romanticized left-wing terrorist groups. Specifically, he's written lyrics praising Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, who was found guilty of killing a police officer and wounding another. This has prompted outrage from police organizations around the country.

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For more background, Commentary has an incredibly timely piece in the latest issue about the new memoir from Susan Lisa Rosenberg, one of Shakur's partners in crime:

One of those arrested amid the shooting was Kathy Boudin. She had disappeared from public view in 1970 after she and another member of the Weather Underground escaped from the wreckage of a Greenwich Village townhouse, where three of their own number died while building a bomb. Another Brink’s perpetrator was David Gilbert, father of Boudin’s child, Chesa (the couple dropped him off with a babysitter before joining in the robbery). In a second shootout two days later in Queens, an additional member of the Brink’s assault group was killed, and another arrested.

Rosenberg was also wanted as a suspect in the 1979 jailbreak in Clinton, N.J., of Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, who had been found guilty two years earlier of murdering one police officer at point-blank range and wounding another. Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison plus more than 20 years but was then sprung from the Clinton Correctional Institute for Women by members of the Black Liberation Army who were also members of M19CO. After years underground, Chesimard surfaced in Cuba in 1984, where she still apparently lives. There is a $1 million bounty on her head.

During the two years in which Rosenberg was underground, M19CO—also known as the Armed Resistance Group, the Revolutionary Fighting Group, and the Red Guerrilla Resistance Group—was involved in a spree of high-profile bombings, in which she allegedly took part. Among the targets: the U.S. Senate, where a late-night explosion on November 7, 1983, tore apart a conference room; the Washington Navy Yard Computer Center; the National War College; and the Israeli Aircraft Industries Building. (Rosenberg refers to all of these generically as “unoccupied federal buildings.”) It can be reasonably assumed that the explosives and weapons seized at Rosenberg’s arrest were part of the terrorist effort.

Note that after his parents were sent to prison for their crimes, Chesa Boudin, the child mentioned above, was raised by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Certainly, those two people are undoubtedly familiar to the occupants of the White House. I reviewed Chesa Boudin's recent book for National Review Online two years ago:

About halfway into Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America, young writer Chesa Boudin’s new memoir-cum-South-American-travelogue, he describes his experience working for Hugo Chávez’s Venezuelan government. However, his friend and liaison in the Venezuelan government was making things a bit awkward for him:

Marta had introduced me to her friends as “the son of political prisoners in the United States.” I wasn’t entirely comfortable being introduced this way; certainly it wouldn’t have been one of the first things I told someone about myself. In hindsight, however, I realize that Marta’s approach made sense given the context.

Political prisoners? Boudin’s parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were Weather Underground members who participated in the robbery of a Brinks truck with the Black Liberation Army, a militant Marxist Black Panther offshoot. The robbery resulted in the deaths of a security guard and two police officers. Kathy Boudin served 17 years in jail for the crime; Gilbert remains in jail and unrepentant. ...

For what it’s worth, if Gringo is anything to go by, Ayers managed to raise a boy who is thoroughly anti-American and prone to bizarre justifications for the use of violence (or at least, for the use of violence in the service of left-wing causes). These justifications start with his parents — “certainly violence is illegitimate when it targets civilians or intends to cause generalized or widespread fear, but my parents never did either of those” — and permeate his entire worldview.

In any event, obviously Common has little to do with this except to say that, like a lot of ignorant left-wingers, he's unfortunately bought into the left-wing lionization of those who engaged in violence and murder allegedly in the name of social justice. Still, go ahead and file this away the next time you hear the media and Democrats bleating about violent rhetoric from tea baggers.

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