Unacknowledged Legislator Strikes Back: Langston Hughes vs. Rick Santorum

by on Apr.18, 2011

Is it super-delicious or super-tragic that gay-phobic (yet man-on-dog slipperyslope fantasizing) Rick Santorum is currently fundraising for his presidential campaign under the banner of a line taken from gay, black, red Langston Hughes? Under the slogan ‘Fighting to Make America America Again’, he asks you to donate now to . There is also a picture of him canoodling with his wife so you may be sure he ain’t gay.

Hughes’s poem ‘Let America be America Again‘, is part of Hughes’s red work that is customarily excised from sanitized classroom lesson plans, vaguely referred to as propaganda and thus lesser work. I for one actually love Hughes the propagandist; I don’t think propaganda is lesser poetry. I love the passion that rivens this, the self-compulsion of the poem. Hughes wants justice more than he wants the poem. Ok by me. Or maybe it’s more like, this poem-machine kills fascists. For the record I also love Mayakovsky’s Soviet-committed verses, inviting the factory foreman to lock up his lips once the work is done. Well, what do you think, Montevidayans? Here’s some lines I’m sure Rick Santorum highlighted on his Kindle:

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

The poem continues for quite some time. I also like those italicized lines– that weird spectralization of the choral speaker, speaking not from the fields or the factory but from behind a veil of stars. Really fascinating.

On the other hand, on the current budget battles, Santorum remarked, “Why punish the most productive people? The people who have resources create jobs, not poor people.”

Ahem. As an English prof, I’d like to suggest, Mr. Santorum, that you review that poem before the exam.

1 comment for this entry:
  1. rickydc

    … not to mention that M. Santorum review his grammar rules as well. Do you, sir, really mean that “the people who have resources do not create poor people”? If so, I’d like to submit evidence to the contrary.