After a humiliating week-long standoff that saw a far-right Republican faction delay work of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy was finally confirmed as House leader in the wee hours of Saturday.
As part of the transfer of power from the previously Democratic leadership, incoming minority leader Hakeem Jeffries gave a powerful speech that was frequently interrupted by catcalls from that far-right faction, which seemed to encapsulate their goal of disrupting government by calling attention to themselves without presenting any practical solutions.
Part of Jeffries’ speech was what is being called the “ABCs of American Values,” a slightly hokey but forcefully worded alphabetical recitation of a series of words describing what the government should and should not be.
Over the weekend, some genius has set the speech to the music of Nas’ 2001 song “Ether” — a choice that brings its own subtext: The song, from Nas’ “Stillmatic” album, is a diss track inrsponse to Jay-Z’s “Takeover,” released in the middle of a feud between the two New York rappers: “Ether” even includes the lines “Fuck Jay-Z.” However, the pair buried the hatchet in 2005, when Nas joined Jay-Z onstage at a New York area concert. “All that beef shit is done, we had our fun,” Jay said onstage. “Let’s get this money.” The pair have remained friends and collaborated together several times in the years since then.
“We’ll always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the constitution over the cult, democracy over demagogues, economic opportunity over extremism, freedom over fascism.”
Several mid-alphabet mentions got the most virulent reaction from that faction: “Maturity over Mar-a-Lago. Normalcy over negativity. Opportunity over obstruction, People over politics. Quality of life issues over QAnon.”
He concluded with “Reason over racism, substance over slander, triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, voting rights over voter suppression, working families over the well-connected, xenial over xenophobia, yes we can over you can’t do it and zealous representation over zero sum confrontation.”