Give it up for triple-threat Mos Def: hip-hop star, actor, activist. He has written an open letter asking “African-Americans of influence, and all concerned parties” to stand with him behind the Jena Six, and to join him in Jena on September 20. On this week’s episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, he and Princeton professor Cornell West mouthed off about all varieties of American injustice, and they looked like they had a blast doing it. When they got around to the Jena Six–somewhere between Bush’s failures in Iraq and Obama’s prospects as a presidential candidate–things really got hot. (Watch the video here.)
Seething with real bile, Mos Def said, “What’s next? You hurt some white man’s feelings, and you gotta go to jail now? Fuck that! The shit is bullshit, it’s wack. I’m goin’ down there for the sentencing, and I’m callin’ everybody, anybody–black, concerned parties, from Will Smith to Jay, 50, Kanye. You got something to do, you can’t do it, you can’t show up, sign a petition, respond to me online.”
OK, so maybe as a political pundit, he’s not quite Tim Russert material. And, sure, he did also take the opportunity to spout some smart-ass rhetoric that could be construed as 9/11 denialism. (He also came out as a moon-landing denialist, just for laughs.) But you have to admire the guy: He’s paying attention, he’s pissed off and he’s doing something about it. That’s putting star power to good use.