With all the controversy regarding rappers lyrics going on right now, from Nas’ protest of Fox News to Ludacris’ misguided Pro-Obama song, “Politics as Usual,” the media has been neglecting the negative lyrics of country music’s most popular star.
Singer Toby Keith is promoting a movie called “Beer for my Horses,” based on a song of the same name. The song promotes lynching criminals and vigilantism. In the song, Keith says:
Grandpappy told my pappy, back in my day, son
A man had to answer for the wicked that he done
Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys
Hang them high in the street for all the people to see that
During Keith’s ‘grandpappy’s’ day, 3.437 black people were lynched. Most of the ‘bad boys’ who were lynched by vigilante white mobs were, in fact, blacks who weren’t given a chance to defend themselves from the charges brought against them. Charges could include anything from theft, rape, or whistling at a white woman and the punishment was always death. While white people charged with a crime would have the right to a trial by jury, black people had to face the white mob as judge, jury and executioner through lynching.
While Keith does not explicitly call for the lynching of black people, he talks about ‘gangsters’ and ‘crime in the streets’ which are phrases often connected to urban African Americans. In the trailer for his movie, “Beer for my Horses,” the enemies are all dark skinned stereotypical Mexicans. Images and symbolism of lynchings are very disturbing and offensive to African Americans as it invokes a dark history of racism and exclusionary practice.
Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who has been extremely critical of negative rap lyrics, has been a big supporter of Toby Keith. Hannity often uses Keith’s song, ‘Courtesy of the Red White and Blue,’ a song that glorified bombing Afghanistan, as a theme song for his radio program and many other right-wingers have adopted it as a theme song on talk radio. Keith has also been actively performing overseas for military troops.
Will the right wing Republicans at Fox News and the military be as quick to denounce Toby Keith, as Obama was to denounce Ludacris? Calls to Sean Hannity’s office at Fox were not returned.