First it was the 16th century Gospel hoax that was circulating as an ancient “secret manuscript” written in gold, no less. Then it was claims that Mos Def’s video showing just how horrific the sort of force feeding at Guantanamo Bay actually is, led to the U.S. government forcing the hip hop star to stay abroad. Websites and news outlets clamored to report the story that Mos Def was being barred reentry into the United States because of his activism.
For our part, we stood back and waited. The premise of the report seemed dubious and we had no intentions of running the allegations until they could be confirmed. After all, if this were true, the Mighty Mos would have a slam dunk legal case, and the story would soon garner international outrage.
Last week, several news sites reported that rapper and political activist Yasiin Bey had canceled his U.S. tour. According to Together Boston’s website, Bey, also known as Mos Def, had been denied entry into his country of citizenship, the U.S., due to “immigration/legal issues.”
The New York Daily News and Democracy Now both reported the story as fact. But then, the South Africa Times reported that Abdi Hussein, a close friend of Mos Def, had insisted that the original story was false. Mos Def had been living in South Africa, but it had nothing to do with being barred reentry. He was simply pulling a “Dave Chappelle”, so to speak… His former band mate in Black Star, Talib Kweli added more clarification to the rumors.
“I haven’t spoken on Yasiin cuz it seemed obvious to me that these rumors are unsubstantiated lies. But y’all believe blogs so I must,Think about you’ve read about Yasiin. Does it make sense? No it doesn’t. Do you own research if you that concerned. Stop believing blogs. No need to get up in arms. Yasiin is, in the words of Dave Chappelle, chillin out in South Africa #mandelavoice.”
So why did so many believe the story? On one hand, we can say that it comes down to poor fact-checking, which does a disservice to all alternative media. That is somewhat troubling, even disturbing. But the other side of this is that many believed the story simply… because it was believable. Perhaps that should be even more disturbing.
(Article by M.B. David)