Conservative groups are in an uproar over rapper Common's scheduled attendance at the White House's "Night of Poetry" event this week.
Sarah Palin, The Daily Caller and other right-of-center groups are criticizing a 2007 spoken word performance Common gave as allegedly threatening to police and President George W. Bush.
Nevermind that like most rappers, Common assumes a stage persona and is doing a form of acting while rapping (I seriously doubt a millionaire like Common is roaming the streets looking to shoot cops, as has been implied). His performance was about defending oneself against police brutality and the "burn a Bush" comment was both a Biblical allusion and a play on words while opposing the Iraq war -- not a literal threat.
Also nevermind that, as rap goes, Common's lyrics are often among the least offensive and sometimes the most thoughtful. The Obama administration could have invited someone much more profane, such as, say, Grammy-winner Eminem.
But what the conservative groups attacking Common should pay attention to is this: They might have more in common with Common than they know.
Consider his song "Retrospect for Life" with Lauryn Hill. It's a piece about a young pregnant couple, and lines from it could easily be used as promotional material for the pro-life movement.
Though the song is deeply ambivalent about abortion, Common at times passionately represents the view that life in the womb is sacred.
"Knowin' you the best part of life, do I have the right to take yours?" he says to his unborn son in the song, and later says, "let's have this boy."
He also describes abortion as "turning this woman's womb into a tomb."
But the line conservatives can most likely agree with is this: In the piece, Common argues that going through with an abortion would cause him to lose his soul.
"$315 ain't worth your soul," he says of the cost of an abortion, repeating: "$315 ain't worth your soul. $315 ain't worth it."
Now, Common is far from a Republican and "Retrospect for Life" serves as a conflicted, debate piece about abortion -- in which both sides are represented -- but several of its lines should give Sarah Palin and other conservatives some common ground with Common.
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