Poetasters, dirty politicians, and other liars soil the cosmos. Exposing them remains in my toolkit. I read charlatans so you don't have to!
Introduction and Excerpt from "Somebody Blew Up America"
The ignominious scribblings of the late Amiri Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones, exemplify everything that is wrong with contemporary poetry, from identity politics to ahistorical nonsense to outright fabrication. Jones-Baraka lost his New Jersey poet laureateship after the Anti-Defamation League denounced his nonsensical and anti-Semitic screed, "Somebody Blew Up America."
A recent iteration of that sentiment came from anti-Semitic congressman Ilhan Omar’s, "some people did something," a whitewash of the 9/11 terror attack that killed nearly 3000 people with weaponized passenger airplanes, the very same subject of Poetaster Jones-Baraka's screed. Omar blithely flung forth that dismissal, demonstrating her ignorance of historical fact, as she screeched,
CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.
Actually, nothing about that statement is accurate. CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) was founded in 1994, not after September 11, 2001. With "Some people did something," she is referring to those four airplanes turned into weapons of mass destruction taking out nearly 3000 Americans. And Americans have made every effort to make sure innocent Muslims are not tarred with the same Islamist-Extremist-Terroist brush.
Overrated Voice of Nonsense
The long-time, overrated voice of LeRoi Jones, aka Amiri Baraka, has sullied the poetry world with many offensive diatribes, but "Somebody Blew Up America" will remain his crowning piece of irrationality; it reads like a list of incoherent notes jotted down briefly without thought of making any kind of sense of them.
The speaker fulminates in a grammatically and historically challenged voice that reveals a low level of literacy and lack of common sense. While the lack of grammatical acumen is forgivable and may be argued that it is appropriate for the purpose of this discourse, nothing than explain away the many nonsensical, ahistorical inaccuracies.
Just because one race wishes to foist all blame for all the world’s ills on another race does not make that foisting accurate.
Excerpt from "Somebody Blew Up America"
They say its some terrorist, some barbaric Arab in Afghanistan
It wasn't our American terrorists
It wasn't the Klan or the skinheads
Or the them that blows up nigger churches
Or reincarnates us on Death Row
It wasn't Trent Lott
Or David Duke or Giuliani
Or Schundler, Helms retiring
It wasn't the gonorrhea in costume
The white sheet diseases that have murdered black people
Terrorized reason and sanity
Most of humanity, as they pleases
They say (who say?)
Who do the saying
Who is them paying
Who tell the lies
Who in disguise
Who had the slaves
Who got the bucks out the Bucks . . .
To read the entire poem, please visit, "Somebody Blew Up America."
Amiri Baraka Reading "Somebody Blew Up America"
The late Amiri Baraka lost his New Jersey poet laureateship after the Anti-Defamation League denounced his nonsensical and anti-Semitic screed, "Somebody Blew Up America."
The title, "Somebody Blew Up America," presents two erroneous assertions. The screed supposedly reacts to the events of September 11, 2001, when nineteen Middle Eastern Islamists boarded four passenger airplanes, turning those planes into weapons of war. Of course, as is well documented, most people know that those Islamists did not succeed in blowing up America.
They took out two World Trade Center buildings in New York City and part of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., while the fourth airplane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The worst they did was killing almost 3000 Americans in their despicable act. So the reader can take the "blew up America" as exaggeration but nothing more.
However, the claim that, "Somebody" committed those heinous acts is utterly disingenuous. Everybody knows who did it. By implying that he does not know who "blew up America," the speaker places himself with the conspiracy theorists, the truthers who claim that it was not "terrorists" who commandeered those planes, but perhaps the U. S. government?
The poem mockingly cries, "It wasn't our American terrorists / It wasn't the Klan or the Skin heads," with the innuendo that it probably was the Klan or the Skin heads and not the Islamists who actually committed the act. (Amiri Baraka is the former LeRoi Jones, who changed his name in 1968 after deciding to identify as a Muslim.)
The speaker demonstrates a lack of erudition even in education by such lines as "or reincarnates us on Death Row." The use of "reincarnates" in such as way shows that the speaker is clueless regarding the meaning of the word.
Who? Who? Who?
By the third section of the tirade, the speaker has launched into a repetition of questions about who did what, with the implication that the white man did all these things to the black man: "Who do the saying / Who is them paying / Who tell the lies / Who in disguise / Who had the slaves?" This monotonous form continues for the rest of the poem (226 lines) until the speaker gets the clever idea that he sounds like an owl, that is, "Like an Owl exploding."
Everyone agrees that this "poet" and all poets have every right to entertain and bellow about any thoughts and beliefs that they choose. Amiri Baraka has every right to complain about slavery and ignore the fact that a bloody war was fought in this country to end slavery, if he chooses.
However, as William Davidson and Shai Goldstein asserted in their letter to New Jersey Governor James McGreevey,
It may be that as a poet, Mr. Baraka may say what he chooses, no matter how ugly, irresponsible or deceptive. However, we don't believe that the residents of New Jersey, nor their representatives should have such venom spewed in their name.
Baraka has his speaker spout the following lines that the Anti-Defamation League found to be anti-Semitic: "Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed / Who told 4000 Israeli / workers at the Twin Towers / To stay home that day / Why did Sharon stay away?"
Addressing the poetaster's obnoxious claims, the Anti-Defamation League writes in their source that debunks a number of myths involving Judaism:
. . . then poet laureate from New Jersey, Amiri Baraka’s poem, a lengthy diatribe about September 11, repeats the conspiracy about Jews and Israel having foreknowledge of the attacks and the false rumor that 4,000 Israelis did not show up for work at the World Trade Center.
The governor agreed with the league and requested that Baraka resign his poet laureateship. When Baraka refused, the governor eliminated the position. Thus, the poetaster, Amiri Baraka, is responsible for New Jersey losing a valuable position meant to allow the voice of poetry to be heard.
- JTA. "Amiri Baraka, black poet condemned as anti-Semitic, dies." Jerusalem Post. January 10, 2014.
- Angie Drobnic Holan. "Ilhan Omar misstates the facts about CAIR's founding." PolitiFact. April 2019.
- "Challenging Anti-Semitism: Debunking the Myths and Responding with Facts." Anti-Defamation League.
- "FBI Announces List of 19 Hijackers," Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- ADL's Letter to Governor McGreevey. American Multiculturalism After 9/11: Transatlantic Perspectives.
- New Jersey Poet Laureate Position. Main Reading Room. Library of Congress. Accessed February 7, 2021.
© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes