Video: Rapper on race, Bush and Katrina

msnbc.com
updated 9/16/2005 6:34:24 PM ET 2005-09-16T22:34:24
TRANSCRIPT

More people continue to lash out at the way President Bush handled Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.  Now, the music world takes a turn. 

Chuck D, leader and founder of the legendary rap group Public Enemy and host of a show on Air America,  recorded a new song, “Hell no, we ain’t all right” criticizing the Bush administration. 

He joined MSNBC-TV's Tucker Carlson to talk about race and poverty issues brought to light by Katrina's aftermath.  Together, the pair make their own music in a war of words.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST 'SITUATION’: I just read your song, I read the lyrics, haven't heard it yet and I, you know, I agree with a lot of it.  You make the point that the federal government was slow in coming to the aid of the gulf coast and that a lot of people are suffering.  But you have all these references to race in here and racism that I don't think makes sense.

Let me just read one of them.  “Racism in the news still one sided news saying whites find food, prey for the National Guard ready to shoot, cause them blacks loot.”  The National Guard didn't shoot anybody.  Maybe they should have shot people but they didn't, black or white, and I guess I just don't see the race angle in this.  What do you mean by that?

CHUCK D, FOUNDER, PUBLIC ENEMY: Well, when I write a song that's what songwriters do.  I cover a whole history of the United States, so this negligence is just a reflection of what's been going on for hundreds of years.  So, when I write a song I have to write as a songwriter to kind of like touch on historical perspective and see what we see today and say uh huh, see, there you go.  The pictures don't lie.

CARLSON: I guess why it kind of bothered me was you once described rap as the black CNN, meaning it's a source of news for black people and presumably people, black and white, who listen to your music and take it seriously, take the words seriously.

CHUCK D: Right.

CARLSON: And I think this just misrepresents what's happened.  There were a lot of white victims of Hurricane Katrina, a lot of black, a lot of Indian victims.  I just don't think there's an intrinsic race angle and it seems wrong for you to suggest there is.

CHUCK D: Let me tell you when I look at New Orleans and one day I was looking at one news station, it could have been CNN, it could have been MSNBC, it showed back how it used to be, remembering New Orleans and it showed like just a whole lot of white folks touring through New Orleans and, you know, that was admirable but the reflection on New Orleans is the fact that it's a black city.  The majority is black, black mayor for the last two or three terms.

CARLSON: Yes.

CHUCK D: And for the first time you had a lot of Americans that didn't even know the makeup, the racial makeup of New Orleans when I know when I visited New Orleans it was just a disproportionate amount of poor people who just didn't get service by either the city, the state, or the country when it came down to figuring out what its needs were.  Come on, the levee system going back to what, when was the levee system built?

CARLSON: Well, it was built hundreds of years ago and it's received...

CHUCK D: Hundreds of years ago.

CARLSON: It's received hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government in the past five years and it's still broke, which tells you something about the leadership in New Orleans.

CHUCK D: No, Tucker, listen.

CARLSON: But here's the point.  You just said something really interesting.  You said it's a black run city.  It's had a black mayor for a long time and it has a heavily black city council.  It's got a black chief of police.  It's got a black Congressman.  So, why is it necessarily the result of white racism when the people of that city aren't served by their leaders who are black?

CHUCK D: Because when they yell loud enough they're not heard.  I mean, look, if Hoover Dam could stop the raging Colorado River, I'm pretty sure that they could have came along with a strong enough levee system to stop Lake Pontchartrain.

But now, you know, here's the fears.  The fears where racism really turns its ugly head on what's going to happen to New Orleans, probably the black people that have moved out probably won't be able to afford to get back in and New Orleans, the new New Orleans is fears that it will probably be one of the most magnificent cities and probably will be protected against a hurricane ten.

CARLSON: I'm sorry to get hung up on one thing but you keep accusing Bush of racism or applying that Bush is a racist and...

CHUCK D: No, I will have to echo Kanye West's statement.

CARLSON: OK that Bush hates black people or whatever.

CHUCK D: Kanye West didn't say hate.

CARLSON: What did he say?

CHUCK D: He said doesn't care, does not care for black people.

CARLSON: If you don't care about people who are dying you hate them.  I mean it's the same thing.  You don't care about people who are suffering in New Orleans you're a hater in my view.

CHUCK D: No, you can't say it's the same thing.  It would be like you just don't acknowledge them and you kind of feel like they are not even there and often black people in this country feel that, you know, unless our back is up against the wall that we're not acknowledged at all.

CARLSON: I know people feel that way but it's such a terrible way to feel that I'm sorry that you're perpetuating that feeling by spreading stuff that isn't true like what you just said.

CHUCK D: There's a tenth anniversary of the Million Man March coming up called the Millions More Movement March October 16th to deal with a lot of issues.  There's still not enough acknowledgement on the advances made on the Million Man March of ten years ago by Mr. Farrakhan.

CARLSON: OK, well speaking of minister, I'm glad you brought up Minister Farrakhan because he weighed in on Hurricane Katrina.  He said this, “I heard from a very reliable source who saw a 25-foot deep crater under the levee breach.  It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry.”

Now that's a lunatic thing to say.  That's a hateful thing to say.  That's going to make people more paranoid and unhappy.  Will you just say to people who listen to what you say that that's wrong and even to traffic in a conspiracy theory like that hurts this country?

CHUCK D: You cannot blame people for coming up with conspiracy theories when they look on television and see that the government is four days late in saving people that are supposed its citizens.

CARLSON: But you're a smart guy.  You know that white people didn't blow up a levee to kill black people.  Now come on.  You know that that didn't happen.

CHUCK D: I try to be smart.  I try to be smart and I can't say unless I know for sure what's actual fact and what's actually false.  All I'm saying is that the pictures don't lie.  When we saw people out there saying “I'm locked up in the city, I'm trying to get up out of it and I need the government to help me,” the pictures don't lie.

CARLSON: Well the pictures — look, I can say for certain that it was not a white conspiracy.  White people did not blow up a levee to kill black people.  I think we can say that for sure.

CHUCK D: I don't think it's a person at fault but I think the system needs some revamping.

Watch 'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

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