Last week Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in front of his Los Angeles clothing store and an avalanche of praise and loving memorials poured forth. Before the body was even cold, he was being described as a ‘visionary’ and a ‘forward-thinking, inspirational entrepreneur,’ who used the money from his hip-hop empire to improve the lives of the less-fortunate members of Crenshaw and other minority neighborhoods in LA. Here’s what was said about him in The Washington Post, less than four hours after he died: “He made us believe that we could make it out of low-income housing and succeed in an unfair capitalistic economy that far too often rewards privilege over work ethic.”
Not to be left behind, Gun-control Nation launched its own series of plaudits for Hussle. I received emails from several organizations, along with a comment from The Trace, which echoed what was being said about Hussle from one end of the politically-correct spectrum to the other, namely, that the gun-control community had lost a good friend.
The way Hussle has been lionized, you would think he was the Mother Theresa of South Central LA. And I don’t really care if everyone in Gun-control Nation finds what I am about to say both insulting and offensive to the memory of this fine young man, but it needs to be said.
As far as I am concerned, people who want to do something to reduce gun violence are engaged in what I consider to be a sacred task. Why? Because violence happens to be the only threat to the human community for which we still haven’t come up with a solution that really works. And it doesn’t matter whether the violence consists of dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima or putting a bullet into Nipsey Hussle while he’s standing in front of his store. We don’t and we shouldn’t condone any act of violence, no matter where or when it takes place.
Think about it. We know how to erase poverty, even though the will to do so often isn’t there. We know how to reduce global warming, again it’s a question of desire, not a lack of knowing what needs to be done. We have conquered just about every illness which used to reduce the average life-span by more than half. But we haven’t made a dent when it comes to the degree to which human beings are still threatened by violence, whether it’s one-on-one assaults or armies deployed by nation-states.
What does all this have to do with Nipsey Hussle? The answer is right here, and I note that in all the effusive accolades that he has been receiving, nobody has mentioned the artistic moment that launched him on his way. This video, Bullets Ain’t Got No Names, may be the single most offensive, disgusting and downright repulsive celebration of violence that I have ever seen.
The reason we suffer from this particular kind of violence – gun violence – is because a lot of young men walk around with guns. Guns are cool, guns are hip, guns are where it’s at. How do you think this embrace of gun violence occurs? Do you think it’s because these young people read the latest public health gun research? Do you think it’s because they just can’t wait to put on the red t-shirt given out by Shannon Watts and her MOMS? Did Nipsey Hussle ever make a video in which he talked about sending a donation to Brady or Everytown and asked his fans to do the same?
By the way, I happen to be a hip-hop fan; I started listening to Tupac in the early 90’s because his late mother was an early Black Panther activist, and in that respect, she and I had some mutual friends. But listening to any kind of music is one thing, promoting gun violence is something else. So when it comes to anything having to do with gun violence, the last thing my friends in Gun-control Nation should be doing is avoiding what needs to be said.