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Jay Z’s American Fascism

One should not conclude that Obama favors criminal violence, but rather that the popular response to Jay Z's evocation of felonious rage is so great that Obama finds it convenient to exploit it.

David P. Goldman


October 21, 2013 - 11:38 am


Ich kann gar nicht so viel fressen, wie ich kotzen moechte: I can’t eat enough to puke as much as I want to. The words of the  great German-Jewish painter Max Liebermann as he watched the Nazis march through the Brandenburg Gate came to mind as I saw Ron Howard’s Showtime documentary about Jay Z’s 2012 “Made in America” festival. We’ve seen this all before: the emotive orator with a twisted face evoking surge of rage from a mass audience that responds with rhythmic arm gestures. I’m late to this discussion, to be sure:

This is the face of American fascism. Compared to the confessed crack dealer and knifer Jay Z, to be sure, Adolf Hitler was a man of high intellect and deep culture. Jay Z, our most successful and wealthiest performing artist, honored White House guest and proprietor of a pop-culture empire, is no Hitler: he lacks the talent to field a political movement, and, fortunately, does not appear to hate Jews. Fascism, though, is not ipso facto directed against Jews. Mussolini began as an anti-clerical socialist with support from a great deal of Italy’s small Jewish community, and did not persecute Jews until Hitler told him to.

Who would have believed that a performing genre (it is a stretch to call it “music”) dominated by convicted and confessed criminals, brutally misogynistic, preaching and practicing violence, would come to dominate American popular culture? Jay Z, who brags of dealing drugs and shooting an older brother in his youth, and pleaded guilty to stabbing a record producer, could “help shape attitudes in a real (sic) positive way,” according to President Obama. Jay Z texts regularly with the president and is a regular White House visitor after opening Obama campaign rallies.

Jay Z’s message to the Philadelphia crowd that Ron Howard filmed last year is the same thing he puts on the airwaves — for example:

We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission
And deception is the only felony
So never fuck nobody without telling me
Sunglasses and Advil, last night was mad real.

Music, Jay Z told Howard’s cameramen, can unite people in a way that politics and religion cannot. Everyone is a genius, everyone is oppressed. He is the prophet of a new religion: African-American music has gone from Thelonius Monk to felonius priest. Violence is not only a legitimate form of expression: it is the only manly form of expression, as in his rap “D.O.A.”:

This might offend my political connects

My raps don’t have melodies

This should make niggas wan’ go and commit felonies

Get your chain tooken

I may do it myself, I’m so Brooklyn!

I know we facing a recession

But the music y’all making gon’ make it the Great Depression

All y’all lack aggression

Put your skirt back down, grow a set man

Nigga this shit violent

The explicit call to violence (including chain-snatching as a form of political expression) is a playful challenge to his “political connects,” namely the president. One should not conclude from this that Obama favors criminal violence, but rather that the popular response to Jay Z’s evocation of felonious rage is so great that Obama finds it convenient to exploit it. There is nothing at all new in any of this: we heard it before from Nietzsche in his evocation of the “blond beast’s” life-affirming violence, from George Sorel, from Mussolini’s call for “creative violence.”

Jay Z appeals to the same kind of rage that Hitler and Mussolini exploited during the interwar years. Never in the postwar period has the United States had youth unemployment in the 25% range for over half a decade:

Graph of Unemployment Rate - 16 to 19 years

Never has the outlook for college graduates looked so grim. College is no longer a promise of middle-class status for most young Americans. The default rate on student loans two years after issuance has nearly doubled from 5.2% in 2006 to 9.1% in 2010. The average student graduates with $26,000 in debt, and two-thirds of all students leave college indebted. The available jobs no longer offer the income required to carry the debt burden. For a few bright students, online courses will provide a cheap education; for most, the opportunity has shriveled.

The 25% youth unemployment rate is effectively five percentage points higher, because the base on which the unemployment rate is calculated–the labor force–has shrunk drastically as a percentage of young Americans.

FRED Graph

This is not a black phenomenon; Jay Z articulates a characteristically black rage that resonates with the first generation of white Americans since the Great Depression who have lost hope of achieving the same standard of living that their parents had.

Real median household income has fallen by nearly 10% since its peak in the late 1990s:

Graph of Real Median Household Income in the United States

It would be dangerous to interpret the surge of Jay Z’s political influence as an economic phenomenon. He is making a spiritual appeal–albeit a wicked and perverse one–in a growing spiritual vacuum.

No religious affiliation in America has grown to 19.6%

The answer is that we have failed–with some remarkable exceptions–to hold onto our young people. Harvard political scientist Harvey Mansfield likes to say that the big question in American politics is whether the red states can produce children faster than professors from the blue states can corrupt them.  The roots of conservative strength are deteriorating. A sign of the times, as I wrote Aug. 28 at the Orthodox Jewish website Torah Musings, was a widely circulated essay by the distinguished Catholic journalist Joseph Bottum arguing that there was no point in fighting over gay marriage.

The Catholic Church is besieged by secularism and suffering from the self-inflicted injury of the sex abuse scandals. The resignation of Benedict XVI, one of its great theologians and doctrinal leaders, left its leadership uncertain. Not only Catholicism but the American Evangelical movement—a mainstay of American support for the State of Israel—is caught by the receding tide. In an Aug. 16 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Russell Moore, the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, announced, “The Bible Belt is collapsing.” Moore added, “We are no longer the moral majority. We are a prophetic minority.” The Evangelicals have not retained their young people. The Pew survey reported in 2007 that 32% of Americans aged 50 to 64 are white Evangelicals, against only 13% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. The public tide has turned against religion.


Important documentation of the state of the evangelical movement is found in Robert W. Nicholson’s essay on evangelicals and Israel at Neal Kozodoy’s superb website He addresses among other things the attenuation of evangelical support for Israel and puts it in the broader context of the fraying of faith:

Whether and to what extent evangelical religion has been taking a left turn in recent years has been much debated in Christian media. Many of the movement’s leaders, alarmed by developments in their local communities, have warned against doctrinal drift among the young. Others have denied it, citing survey data to maintain that young evangelicals are actually more conservative than ever. Without entering into this by-now hoary debate, I submit that sizable parts of the evangelical community have indeed departed from a traditional understanding of their faith.

This exodus is no secret. Participants in the trend are hardly shy about their beliefs and ultimate goals, and sympathetic outsiders have been quick to notice and applaud them. Indeed, the “New Evangelicalism” has been heralded by progressive figures within the larger Christian community not as a turning away but as a restoration of the true essence of Christianity. Driving this move, one hears, is the desire to exemplify Jesus’ love for the world by breaking free of old stereotypes and knocking down the barriers between evangelicals and “mainstream” American culture.

….Thus, in a wildly popular book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons sift a mountain of polling data to conclude that young evangelicals, just like their peers, find conservative Christianity to be “too anti-homosexual,” “too judgmental,” and “too political” for their taste.

There is one small but telling exception to the decline of social conservatism among young people, and that is in the numerically tiny world of Orthodox Judaism. The retention rate for young Orthodox Jews (up to age 29) is a remarkable 83%, much higher than at any time in the past century. In the past Jewish immigrants were overwhelmingly “Orthodox” (there was no other form of Judaism in Eastern Europe or the Muslim world). The great dichotomy was between “Old World” religion and assimilation into America. Orthodox Jews raised in America have no such dichotomy. They already are assimilated, comfortable in their Americanism as well as their Judaism. Orthodoxy, moreover, has built broad and deep institutions that sustain a counterculture independent of the ambient decadence, most importantly day schools. Orthodox success stands in contrast to liberal Jewish denominations, which are declining as fast as mainline Protestantism did a generation ago.

YouTube Preview Image

By no means do I wish to present Orthodox Judaism as a utopia. We have many problems and little cause for complacency. But the high retention rate of young observant Jews bears a broader lesson: the conservative movement is rooted in a set of values that cannot be separated from religion, just as de Tocqueville wrote in 1835. Without our own institutions and our own alternative to the prevailing culture, we will decline.

We need to stick to our principles and strengthen our institutions. Again, from my Torah Musings essay:

As the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore told the Wall Street Journal, Christians are becoming a minority. And what they best can learn from the Jews is how to be a minority, as I argued in a comment on a recent symposium on the future of First Things. There are some concessions that traditional religion cannot make without sacrificing its authority, and the character of the human family is one of these. Orthodox Judaism survived decades of cultural isolation when conventional wisdom predicted that it shrink to the status of an irrelevant sect. Orthodoxy has thrived, on the contrary, precisely because it refused to abandon Torah values, while progressive Jewish denominations are shrinking. Christians should take encouragement from the Orthodox example and remain true to their principles.

This is a war in which there are no knockout punches, no decisive battles: It is an extended war of attrition to recreate a conservative majority from the grass roots up, in the face of a truly evil effort to exploit the rage and frustration of young Americans. It will last the rest of our lifetimes and more.

From time to time one finds conservatives hoping that someone as popular as Jay-Z might deliver a conservative message. That is delusional: the culture is the message.


Cross-posted from Spengler

David P. Goldman is the columnist “Spengler” for Asia Times Online; his latest book is How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too). He is the Wax Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Top Rated Comments   
You have to have principles before you can stick to them. The simple truth is that today's politicized generation of youth base right and wrong, nobility, or lack of it, in social identities. White, non-white, Muslim, gay, man, woman - all now come with their pre-chewed histories.

Ironically, this profiling is done by a generation that prides itself on anti-profiling and stereotyping.

What the result is, is that people literally have no way of defining right from wrong. The only way they sometimes know they've crossed a line is when someone taps them on the shoulder. Obama himself had to be tapped on the shoulder and told to leave Rev. Wright's church.

What the upshot of that was a valuable lesson Obama and black folks in America learned: they could do no wrong. Their identity protected them. They were incapable of racism. That's when the anti-white nuts started to come out of the woodwork, and when white privilege and all the rest gained tremendous traction.

Others benefit: gays are incapable of hate or bigotry, as are women. Muslims can pound non-Muslims, women, and gays into the stone age and still have cultural relativism there to protect them, not to mention terrorize a world with murderous attacks while people defend such actions with Christian examples from 8 millions years ago, such as the Crusades.

The straight, white, male comes with his own baggage; all of it unrelentingly negative. Read any blog by a feminist. They constantly single out men for comment. It is negative 100% of the time. There are no positive stereotypes of men, especially white men.

Read any gay or black blog. White and straights are practically the sole object of interest. Yet among all that rhetoric there are no positive stereotypes of whites or heterosexuals, only negative.

This leaves this generation literally without any tools for self-criticism and mean that simple comparisons are completely beyond them. This is how you dismantle success. This war is not one between secularism and religion, but between principle and identity. If baseball went in the same direction, balls and strikes would depend on a complex system of race, gender and gender preference, and would thereby be destroyed.

We are destroyed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (41)
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Civil War And The Litmus Test - "Will you shoot Americans?"

Dr Garrow was recently contacted by a high ranking military official who implored him to reveal the truth about a "litmus test" that is being proposed by the Obama administration to the military asking the question "will you shoot Americans if they won't give you their guns?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I try to raise my children in the church, but the pull of the pop culture machine is strong. Stalin once said give me they boy and I will make you the man … every time we feed the popular culture machine and choose not to fight it or corrupt it with OUR values we had them one more young boy or girl to make into the women and men who will fight their battles for them. These battles will start off as cultural (which we have unfortunately lost), progress to legal (which we are losing) and finish with physical confrontations. Churches taxed, expropriated into non existence, it members ridiculed and mocked into hiding. Cardinal Francis George said that he will die in his bed, his successor will die in prison and his successor’s successor will die a martyr. The rapid secularization of society will have ramifications like nothing society has ever seen … well almost never seen. The ideologically driven violence dealt out to people of faith during the Russian and Spanish revolutions is one roadmap to look at. The rot of a society that has abandoned its will to survive as in continental Europe is another.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of the great tragedies of African American life in the current age is the abandonment of Jazz, which was a rich and varied musical tradition, for rap which is not quite music nor is it poetry.

It is part and parcel of the abandonment of middle class life as an ideal and its replacement with "ghetto" life characterized by incessant gang warfare and illegitimate births to underage and undereducated teen age girls.

Rap is a symptom of that pathology, but until African Americans rject, their lot is without hope.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Jesus has also seen the evil in all of us. He taught against it. The only eternal truth is that Jesus is Lord.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
War is coming.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who would have thought, black people are violent, dangerous and hedonistic. And paganistic as well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
this is a society falling apart. you didn't think it would be pleasant, did you?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'll say it. This is typical for the violent black culture destroying our youth today. They hero-ize this punk as well as his wife, Beyonce and racist Kanye West. Their morals and their influence are dangerous.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Perhaps a better example would be Norman Mailer pushing violence - Paul Johnson discusses the phenomenon in the last chapter of Intellectuals. (Nietzsche was actually pro-Jewish from what I've heard.)

I am puzzled about the poll, because a poll not long before showed Americans to be quite religious. One interesting figure was that 12% of Atheists believed in God (!). I think your points are well taken though, in both articles.

"Thirty commandments were given to the Children of Noah (the Gentiles) and they (the Roman and Persian Pagans) only keep three: They do not sell human flesh commercially, they do not write a marriage agreement for a male (with another male), and they honor the Torah". (Talmud, approx. translation) We are now officially sub-pagan.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Goldman, you ended your article with

'From time to time one finds conservatives hoping that someone as popular as Jay-Z might deliver a conservative message.'

and as I told my son when he was but 10 yrs old, 'Hope in one hand and poop in the other one and see which one fills up first'. In other words, hoping does no one any good. Hard work, on the other had, to achieve what you want the outcome to be, does. Just another reason that when president Obama, notice the small 'p', not accidental, made his campaign slogan 'hope and change' I knew we were dealing with a fraud and a charlatan. Unfortunately, at appears that most of our electorate desired an Elmer Gantry type rather than someone with OUR best interests at heart rather than his own.

Coeurmaeghan in Twentynine Palms, CA
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yep. You start by raising your kids properly: supervising their activities (esp. online), watching who their friends are, taking them to church, parochial school if at all possible. Immerse them in classical music (heck, these days even Rock and Roll is classical) and good authors. Don't necessarily protect them from all secular material, but help them develop the ability to criticize it properly.
1 year ago
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