Perhaps, like many people of many races, some language in some rap makes you uncomfortable. But perhaps you’d nevertheless be categorically more uncomfortable with a bus full of white fraternity men chanting in favor of segregation and the extralegal murder of black people for their race.
On Wednesday's segment of Morning Joe, though, the hosts seemed to conflate these two kinds of speech.* Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, along with the Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, discussed the controversy at the University of Oklahoma's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which my colleague Terrance Ross explains here. Members of the fraternity—whose house has been closed, and two of whose members were expelled—were singing things like "There will never be a nigger in SAE! / You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me." But initially, instead of focusing on the fraternity brothers, Brzezinski, Scarborough, and Kristol focused on something different: rap music.
In particular, Brzezinski singled out Waka Flocka Flame, a goofball Atlanta MC who canceled a planned show at the school, saying he was "disgusted and disappointed" in SAE's actions. "He shouldn't be disgusted with them, he should be disgusted with himself," she said, noting that Flame uses the n-word in his own lyrics. Later in the show, she backed away from this argument, but her initial comments echoed an often-repeated idea: that black musicians using racial slurs in rap music are no different than white fraternity brothers chanting racial slurs as a community ritual.