Monday--October 28
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 411
The Rap of Terror

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, October 28 --Hunting Terrorism is not unlike a starving child stumbling into a Godiva Chocolate factory.   The question isn't, "Where is Terrorism?," but rather, "Which piece of Terrorism is the most deliciously newsworthy?"  
       This morning, found a big, rich chunk of chocolate Terrorism.  It's a Rapper who promotes to millions of young people his thoughts on raping his mother, killing his wife--the mother of his six-year-old daughte--and how he wishes his "fagotty father" was dead.

          Before his story slapped me in the face, I reviewed the flap over the Russian's use of a deadly gas that killed more than 100 hostages. It was used to knock out Chechen Terrorists who laid siege on a concert hall just three miles from the Kremlin.  The rebels threatened to kill all 750 hostages.  Russian troops pumped gas into the theater to knock out the Terrorists.  Unfortunately, the dosage was lethal to a large number of hostages.
       Grim pictures of dead hostages in their seats, heads lolling back, eyes staring blankly,  greeted me at 5a.m.  Russia's use of the gas has brought suspicious eyes.  Some think the anti-Terrorist "secret gas"  is new, and represents a violation of the non-proliferation treaty regarding biochemical weapons.    Everyone's wondering where the Russians got the gas, and what else they might have.

Mourning for the dead in Moscow

      Following Russia's gas issue, I hit on a bright spot--a memorial for Vigilance.  On October 28, in 1886,  the Statue of Liberty was dedicated by President Cleveland. Visitors from all over the world jammed New York City, many from France where the statue was conceived and built, and then shipped to the United States.   It stands today as a symbol of Freedom and Opportunity.  Or, as Thomas Jefferson said, "Eternal Vigilance is the price of Liberty."

       Ms. Liberty also represents Freedom of all different sizes and shapes.   The  most precious--Freedom of Speech.    Without the right to speak one's mind wherein lies Freedom?  Americans have the right to express their opinions--no matter how extreme they might be.   Some claim it lets steam off so the angry don't take their resentments out with violence.

Ms.  Liberty

       Opponents to Free Speech avouch it fosters dissent, spreads pornography, and incites violence.  One of the current targets of Free Speech is rap music, whose lyrics often celebrate killing, raping, murdering.  That's where my hunt for Terrorism landed.

        Today's New York Times ran an article on Emimem, the white rap singer who has crossed the line between black and white, and earned the respect of both ethnic groups.  He has been called by both white and black critics, the "world's best rapper."
          The 30-year-old father of a six-year-old daughter, has been assaulted because his lyrics, like many black rappers, are riddled with violence.
          He raps about raping his mother and killing his girlfriend, the mother of his daughter.      

Eminem at Grammy's 2001

          His latest album, "The Eminem Show," has sold 6.7 million copies domestically, more than any other rapper in any one year.
          In his song, "'Cleanin' Out My Closet," he calls his father a "faggot," and wishes "he would die."  He also  relates how he wanted to kill his girlfriend but didn't.   He calls his mother a "selfish bitch," and raps out his anger by telling listeners how when his uncle died his mother "wished it was me."
           His mother sued him for slander and lost.
           Hip-hop consumers are mostly non-black, representing 75 percent of sales.  But to be successful, a rapper has to enjoin the black community, and Eminem has done that.
           He presents a "role model" for many disenfranchised minorities.   Unlike the majority of rappers who wear pounds of gold, swirl around in limos with stars at their sides and frequent the top echelon of clubs, Eminem is noted for sticking to his neighborhood roots, wearing street clothes and avoiding the trappings of stardom.   
           His biggest attraction for some youth in the black community is his dedication to his daughter.    In the Times Oct.28 article, reporter Lynette Holloway quoted 14-year-old Andre Hannah as saying, "My dads is gone.  It would be cool if my dad was there for me like he's (Eminem) there for his daughter.  I mean, he loves her more than he loves his wife and mother."
           But another comment was less flattering.   A 15-year-old said, "I don't like him.  He talks about killing his wife in his songs. I don't care what she did to him.  That's wrong."

  Eminem is moving into another medium--the movies.  On Nov. 8 his quasi-auto biography is being released in fictionalized format.   It's called "8-Mile," titled after a dividing line in Detroit's racial and economic division between white and black.  
          Hip-hop artists have a string of movies including "Barber Shop," "Brown Sugar" and "Exit Wounds."
          I wanted to know about his songs so I downloaded his lyrics, available at 
          I found it hard to see a Father of Vigilance in his words.   I found it hard to find a "role model."
         Everything was about anger.   There was no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel.   I read about suffering.  And, based on my own background, I related to that suffering.   Any child who feels abandoned would feel the same, but I didn't see any Courage, Convictions or Right Actions in the words that would lead me to believe a child seeking a symbol of strength would find it in Eminem's lyrics.
         I saw an angry young man lashing out at the world, and fomenting those feelings of hatred and disgust in others.  I saw his daughter as a victim of the words, learning to hate from them, learning to build walls of victimization rather than castles of Vigilance.

msn butterflies

Rapper Ice T

         Yesterday, my wife and I went to the MSN display in Central Park where major promotions are being held to announce a new and improved web service.   Ice-T was speaking.   It was a small crowd, perhaps sixty people at the most.   Ice-T was telling the audience about how to become bigger than violence.   He was delivering a message about "rising above" one's pain and suffering and how he decided to "play the game" (take Right Action).   He cited his own experience of selling hand grenades, and how he moved into music, and now is a major image of Vigilance on Law and Order, a role model of evolution from primal Terrorism to media Vigilance.

"Playing the game"

         I was impressed with Ice-T's message, and unimpressed with Eminem's.
         I wondered if  John Mohammad, the accused sniper, or his quasi "step son," had ears for rap music.    I wondered if the thirst for "killing" was fed by lyrics and primal beats that awoke in them or agitated their Beast of Terror, urging them to kill with indiscriminate carelessness.
         Then I thought of the Statue of Liberty.   A hundred and sixteen years ago it was dedicated to offer people of all diverse backgrounds and beliefs the freedom of expression.   Its symbol of Liberty includes the right of people to speak about most anything they want.  I wondered if the Voice of Vigilance could rise above the din of angry, violent rap.   I wondered if the children and parents could, by "playing the game" of taking taking Right Action instead of Complacency Game, turn Fear  into Courage, or hoist Conviction above Intimidation, or convert Complacency into Right Action as easily as they could embrace a young man screaming into a microphone about raping his mother, killing his daughter's mother, and taking revenge on his "fagotty" father.  If Ms. Liberty didn't represent the end-all of Vigilance, she sure did tolerance.

       Fortunately, America has tested the right of Free Speech for long enough to know that its absence is more dangerous than its presence.
        With that in mind, I'm going to send Eminem a Pledge of Vigilance, in hopes that one day he might rap more about the Courage to stand up for what is right and good and take a lesson from Ice-T and rap about "playing the right game" rather than feed the prurient thirst to further Terrorize what is already bad and wrong for our children, and their children's children.  Free speech isn't wrong, but the choice to use it to Terrorize the Terrorized is..


Oct 27--A Day With The Central Park Terrorists

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