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was a bad hire
New York Daily News ^
| Oct. 4, 2002
| Stanley Crouch
Posted on 10/04/2002 7:37:02 PM PDT by TheMole
LeRoi Jones, aka Amiri Baraka, has been asked to resign as poet laureate of New Jersey. He refuses. Hmm.
The governor wants him gone because of what have been interpreted as anti-Semitic statements in his poem - if one wants to call it that - "Somebody Blew Up America," written after Sept. 11, 2001.
The governor has it all wrong. Jones should not be asked to resign. Those who appointed him should resign - if they have read his work over the last 35 years. It is an incoherent mix of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, black nationalism, anarchy and ad hominem attacks relying on comic book and horror film characters and images that he has used over and over and over. His so-called growth from what he was then to what he is now eventually meant regurgitating the theories of Marxist dictators and any radical agenda that embraced mass murder as a means of expressing the will of the proletariat, whom Jones initially thought of as black Americans - then "African peoples," then the entire Third World.
It was simple evolution: All whites - and Jews especially - should be murdered; then all Negroes who did not submit to his agenda; then all homosexuals; then all capitalists; then all who did not agree that the Western world and capitalism should be destroyed.
True, Jones began his career more than 40 years ago as a very talented Greenwich Village poet, essayist, playwright and novelist, a black bohemian with a Jewish wife and two children. But that LeRoi flipped out inthe late '60s, left his wife and children after deciding to become a racist black leader and sold out his talent in the interest of hysterical diatribes that have gotten neither worse nor better in the past 35 years. Consistency is all.
For those who would celebrate his writing, there is only one question. What good book has he written since 1965? What truly good poem? Or does one become a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and poet laureate of New Jersey just by staying alive?
Those interested in who and what this man is should read Jerry Gafio Watts' "Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual." It is a wonderfully researched book and is essential to understanding how far one can go in radical politics - as in far-right politics - if the single message is hatred and sentimental celebration. Like Hugh Pearson's searing classic on the Black Panthers, "The Shadow of the Panther," it expresses interest in nothing other than accuracy - something Jones gave up striving for many years ago.
That he has been able to repeatedly revive his career after all he has done to his talent is a testament to how much certain white people want bygones to be bygones so they can feel that lunatic or manipulative or ruthless Negroes "like" them again. He is also elevated by certain Negroes (usually leftists, uninformed students, academics and Village artistic types who also want him to "like" them after years of his berating them for their white wives and girlfriends). These black people back him because he calls out racism, America and the free market - all of which should be called out whenever they are out of hand or are caught red-handed in the middle of some monstrous action.
The issue is how deep does it go after the calling out. In the case of LeRoi Jones, it is no more than a piece of used toilet paper stuffed in a paper cup floating in the dirty pond of our racial desperation.
TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: baraka; crouch; leroijones; newjersey; poetlaureate
posted on 10/04/2002 7:37:02 PM PDT
There once was a poet from Jersey,
Who generated much controversy,
His verses of hate,
Disgraced the whole state,
Now he's flipping burgers in Hershey
Hey Mole you looking for a job in Jersey?
oops, I meant Sam!
LeRoi Jones I was.
Amiri Baraka now.
Either one, bad poems.
No worries...he's an irrelevant putz; no one reads his misguided ravings. May he flounder in his own bilge.
posted on 10/04/2002 8:32:58 PM PDT
Has contract on bad poet
Goodbye LeRoi Jones
Haiku time! LeRoi Jones I was.
Amiri Baraka now.
Either one, bad poems.
V E R Y - G O O D ! !
posted on 10/04/2002 8:47:05 PM PDT
Do ya think Noo Joisey would consider any Freepers to be their "Poet Laureat"?......Naw, I didn't either.
Bitter voice of hate,
Solitary nonsense words
will persuade no one.
NJ isn't just the Butt of America's Jokes.
It's really a butt!
Legislators may erase the post of state poet
Move comes after bid to fire Baraka from job
Thursday, December 05, 2002
BY JEFF WHELAN AND TOM HESTER
Senate Democrats will try something new today in the effort to oust controversial poet Amiri Baraka as New Jersey's poet laureate: abolish the job altogether.
Senate Co-President Richard Codey (D-Essex) yesterday said he will propose scrapping the post of state poet laureate when a Senate committee takes up a bill that would give Gov. James E. McGreevey the power to dismiss Baraka.
Baraka is under fire for penning a post-Sept. 11 poem that critics contend is anti-Semitic, a charge he denies. McGreevey attempted to remove him from the post, but was told by Attorney General David Samson he did not have the authority under the 1999 law that created the position.
Codey is co-sponsor of a bill that would allow the removal of a poet laureate and change how the state picks one. He said the idea of amending the legislation to get rid of the job completely grew out of discussions between lawmakers and the McGreevey administration.
"In retrospect, do we need a state singer? Do we need a state dancer?" Codey said. "Where does it stop? Sometimes you have to Monday-morning quarterback."
McGreevey spokesman Kevin Davitt said, "We support any legislation that allows for the removal of the poet laureate. Abolishing the office in light of recent events might not be such a bad idea."
Jewish organizations have demanded Baraka's ouster since he read "Somebody Blew Up America" at a poets gathering at Waterloo Village during the summer. They have assailed the poem as anti-Semitic, citing in particular four of its 107 lines, which repeat discredited claims that 4,000 Israeli workers in the World Trade Center were told to stay home the day terrorists attacked and destroyed the towers.
Baraka has repeatedly said he is not anti-Semitic and insists the lines bolster the poem's central thesis that leaders of Israel and America knew the attacks were coming but allowed them to occur as a way to promote international warfare and restrictions on domestic freedoms.
When McGreevey stopped payment on the $10,000 state grant that Baraka was to have received as the state's honorary poet laureate, and lawmakers drafted bills to oust him in October, the poet threatened a court fight "to defend the rights of poets and the First Amendment."
One official familiar with the latest move said the state could better defend itself against such a suit if it got rid of the position rather than firing Baraka.
Baraka could not be reached for comment yesterday. Earlier this week, he told the Associated Press he would not attend today's Senate State Government Committee hearing because he was not personally invited to testify.
Both co-chairmen of the Senate committee said yesterday they were not sure there would be support for getting rid of the poet laureate's post.
"I have no idea whether or not there are enough votes for that from Republicans," said Sen. Garry J. Furnari (D-Essex). "At first blush, it seems it might be a shame that the way we have to handle this is the elimination of the office."
Sen. Walter J. Kavanaugh (R-Somerset), the panel's co-chairman, said he was surprised when McGreevey appointed Baraka poet laureate in May, but added: "I do not feel we should get rid of the position because concern has been expressed about someone's appointment."
Codey said that even if New Jersey has no poet laureate, legitimate poets would still be able to apply to the state for grants. "'Mr. Baraka is entitled, just like any other poet, to apply," he said.
posted on 12/05/2002 8:19:42 PM PST
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