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was inspired by the unfortunate shooting of an unarmed West African immigrant,
named Amadou Diallo, by four New York policemen who mistook his wallet for
a gun. The order to remove the protective services came from a high-ranking
police official when he learned that Springsteen was performing the song during
his concerts that evening. The police security was reinstated when Springsteen
dropped the song from his later performances.
In Florida and New York, local law officials used newly enacted anti-terrorism
legislation as justification for "rapper profiling." The police officers had previ-
ously used anti-terror laws to crack down on streets gangs. Since they assumed
that rappers were aligned with street gangs, they created secret dossiers on rap
artists such as Jay-Z , P. Diddy , 50 Cent , DMX , and Ja Rule .
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The Florida files were
combined into a six-inch "rap reference" binder, complete with photos of the stars
and detailed records of their comings and goings in the area. In New York, several
officers conducted three-day seminars on how to track rap artists for representa-
tives of other police departments concerned with monitoring rap artists. "It would
be pretty irresponsible not to have that information or not to provide appropriate
security," said Miami Beach police spokesman, Bobby Hernandez .
Leading up to and during the invasion of Iraq, incidents of direct music censor-
ship were few. However, those that did occur demonstrated, again, the power of
the media echo chamber and its potential to accelerate incidents of music censor-
ship. Many musicians who were focal points of the antiwar movement (or even
perceived to be associated with the antiwar movement) received repeated harsh
and visceral treatment in the media and by the public supporting the war. Those
in support of the war seemed to have a quick trigger regarding any antiwar state-
ment made by celebrities in any media. Web sites
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, newspaper editorials, and
many current events radio and television programs felt that musicians, actors,
and writers abused their access to the public. These outlets campaigned to prevent
celebrities from using their fame and public status to discuss the war or specifi-
cally, to discuss their opposition to the war (media displays of patriotism or
support for the war effort were often well-received and rarely questioned).
Singer and guitarist Lenny Kravitz was widely chastised for his open opposi-
tion to the war, reporting that he received countless letters and phone calls rebuk-
ing him for releasing an antiwar song, "We Want Peace," that featured an exiled
Iraqi pop singer. The New York Post referred to Kravitz as the "enemy's pal."
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Sensing the brewing hostility towards antiwar music, Madonna edited, and
later pulled, her video for "American Life." The video's strong antiwar imagery
included Madonna tossing a live grenade to a George Bush look-alike. According
to a statement released by the singer: "Due to the volatile state of the world and