No Snitchin’: The Senate Version

“Strangeness,

you don’t control this, you barely hold this/

Screaming brand new, when they just sanitized the old shit/

Suppose it’s, just another clever Jedi mind trick/

That they been runnin across stars through all the time with/

–         

Black

Star, Thieves In The Night, Black Star

(1998).

“They

don’t know, who we be/”

–         

DMX,

Who We Be, The Great Depression

(2001).

What are we—Hip-Hop

fans—to make of the revelation that Christopher Dodd, the U.S. Senator from

Connecticut, was involved in the legislative changes that created a loophole

through which AIG executives could receive their bonus payments. More

surprising than Dodd’s

confession, however, was his unwavering refusal to admit who, from the

Treasury Department, ordered the changes to be made. Chris Dodd, on Wednesday,

confirmed that Treasury officials met with him, last month, to request a

modification of an amendment in the stimulus bill, which denied bonuses to

firms receiving aid from the federal government. That, strangely enough, would

be the farthest Dodd was willing to go. This sophisticated duck-and-dodge can

be reduced to a more simplified term: NO SNITCHIN’.

The Senate is an old boys

network, and Washington is even more direct in its secrecy. With most

politicians owing some sort of allegiance to unscrupulous groups, corporations

and lobby enterprises, it is less surprising when lawmakers are willing to

place their heads on the altars of sacrifice, in order to salvage the

reputation of a comrade or colleague (case in point: Scooter Libby). In essence,

the will to protect each other’s asses is only logical.

Dodd is smarter—even more

decent (often progressive in values)—than most of his counterparts, but I’m

still left troubled by his unwillingness to come clean. Another angle in the

recent twist of events is the shameless hypocrisy Chris Dodd exuded, in his mum’s the word attitude to the AIG bonus

controversy. Lord knows if Chris Dodd was a rapper, the unfettered excoriation

he would face, for withholding such pertinent information, would make a

righteous man bleed. The same elected officials, who spent the ‘90s scrambling

to find ways by which they could further the ‘Gangsta-Rap-is-the devil’ saga,

are the same ones who, unabashedly, personalize the very characteristics they

sought to abolish.

In the last decade, much

hoopla has been generated over the alleged indifference young Blacks and Browns

champion, when they rail against any cooperation with law enforcement, in

criminal investigations—colloquially known as, Snitchin’. Most critics see the

surge in “NO SNITCHIN’” merchandise, as ample sign of the demoralizing

influence commercial Rap is having on young people. Documentaries, TV reports

and seminars have been produced to combat this crisis in the “urban” community. In 2007, when CBS’s “60 minutes” aired

a special on the “Stop Snitchin’” movement, it seemed as though the sky was

due for falling any minute soon.

CBS contended that, “in most communities, a person who sees a

murder and helps the police put the killer behind bars is called a witness. But

in many inner-city neighborhoods in this country that person is called a

‘snitch.’ As CBS saw it, “Stop

snitchin’ is a catchy hip-hop slogan that embodies and encourages this

attitude… ‘Stop snitchin’ once meant ‘don’t tell on others if you’re caught

committing a crime’.” This Hip-Hop attitude, according to CBS, meant one

thing—and one thing—only: “don’t

cooperate with the police – no matter who you are.” This has led to

worries, expressed by police officers, that “witnesses are not coming forward”—

which, in turn, leaves many murder-cases “unsolved.” Using Harlem rapper, Cam’ron’s assertions

that under no circumstances was it “okay to talk to the police,” except in a

friendly exchange of greetings, CBS had all the validation it needed, to brand

the concept of “NO SNITCHIN’” a Hip-Hop and inner-city construction. With Cam’ron’s

initial—as it was modified later—suggestion that even in the case of a

serial-killer neighbor, “I wouldn’t call and tell anybody, but I’ll probably

move,” the birthday wishes of many Hip-Hop haters appeared to have been

granted. Unfortunately, a lot of the same talking-heads seemed to have missed

the point, all together. Their rush to judgment made it seem as though

Hip-Hop’s cold shoulder to the police department has no history—as though the Blastmaster, KRS-One wasn’t right in his

assessment that, “you wanna get away with murder? Kill a rapper.”

The long-and-winded

history of police brutality, in the “inner-city,” also plays a part in the

distrust expressed by many rappers, and Black/Brown people, as it concerns

cooperation with police officers. What is clear, however, from this ordeal, is

that many of the stigmas which have been conveniently perceived as exclusively

Hip-Hop-related/created, are common traits everyone is susceptible to. If my

memory serves me correctly, President William Jefferson Clinton’s “relations”

with Monica Lewinsky wasn’t so radically different from what goes on in many

tour buses, across the country. Chris Dodd’s predicament might not be cause for

celebration, but it’s a sobering reminder of how “created equal,” we all are.

Tolu

Olorunda is a Columnist for BlackCommentator.com.

 

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