This is Police Week in Washington, D.C., a time when police officers from across the country gather in the capital to honor their colleagues who have died in the line of duty. The names of more than 19,000 such men and women are carved in the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Judiciary Square, with new ones added each year in conjunction with Police Week.
One of the names on those walls is that of Trooper Werner Foerster of the New Jersey State Police, who on May 2, 1973, was murdered while making a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. Assata Shakur was convicted of the murder (and other crimes) and sentenced to life in prison. She escaped from prison in 1979, and in 1984 she fled to Cuba, where she remains today.
Shakur is something of a folk hero in some quarters, and among her admirers is one Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., known to the world as the rapper Common. Mr. Lynn produced what some generously label a song about Shakur and gave his daughter the middle name of Assata her honor.
Despite this, Mr. Lynn was invited to the White House Wednesday evening for President and Mrs. Obama’s night of poetry, at which he performed a bit of banal, adolescent doggerel that betrayed his barely nodding acquaintance with the concepts of meter and rhyme but nonetheless seemed to hold the audience spellbound.
We were asked to forget about Jeremiah Wright. We were asked to forget about William Ayers. Soon we’ll be asked to forget about this, too.