A town in Idaho is at the center of controversy after it criticized Nelly’s scheduled concert at the North Idaho State Fair next month, labeling his music vulgar.
The Texas-born rapper is scheduled to perform on August 23 in Coeur d’Alene. According to KPVI, an email chain titled “Woah Nelly” has circulated with several people “appalled by the actions of the fair board in selecting rapper entertainment for the fair.”
Duane Rasmussen, who is a part of the email chain, says the fair is sacrificing its traditional values for revenue from out-of-state visitors.
“Perhaps the North Idaho Fair Board has already made enough money on ticket sales to the denizens of Seattle and Portland to ignore any boycott attempt,” says Rasmussen’s email, which he also forwarded to The Coeur d’Alene Press. “Collecting money through ticket sales to people who live in CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) and CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) might just help us get past the financial difficulties of the last year but is that what we are willing to sell our cultural souls for?”
Rich Loudenback is secretary for the Coeur d’Alene John Birch Society. The John Birch Society has been described as a “far right wing” organization known for being a conspiracy minded wing of American conservatism. The organization experienced a surge in support during the Trump Administration, with Infowars and like minded organizations supporting its political philosophies. Louderback criticized the booking. In a statement sent to The Coeur d’Alene Press, he said his opinions are shared by “a lot of people in the area.”
“I wonder if someone on the far left that is consumed with creating everything possible to injure our traditional communities’ values and lifestyle is behind influencing weak-minded people on the KC fair board and our county commissioners by selling them on this insane decision to upset our peaceful fair with the likes of Nelly,” Loudenback’s email reads. “Talk about selling your soul to the devil for money.”
The email continues: “We are not oldsters that deny changing times. We are serious, responsible citizens with moral character who recognize filth and the increasing depravity of our youth stimulated when we see it. Nelly is no Elvis Presley.”
On the other hand, Rev. Van Noy, pastor of Candlelight Christian Fellowship Church, says that he and Coeur d’Alene’s mayor Steve Widmyer have been receiving calls from people who believe the Grammy Award-winning rapper is being discriminated against because of his race.
“This I find appalling! To judge a person based upon their ethnicity is condemned in Scripture and is an insult to our Creator,” he said, according to AllHipHop. “I have been asked for help in navigating through what may harm the local community reputation — and I will.”
Van Noy claimed the fair producers “made a poor choice by inviting such entertainment to our local state fair.”
“The concerns related to both the shameful lyrical messaging and recent problems with the artist’s reputation, community upset, and how to navigate the problems. At the other end, I heard from panicked, frightened, broken, disturbed, and hurting persons — one of whom was wounded and crying — by what was perceived to be threats by ‘Conservatives and Christians on a mission to destroy,’” Rev. Van Noy wrote. “At least one person has suggested the push back against this concert/performer is related to race.”
AllHipHop reports the preacher was asked if he could be on the fair committee next year, and he agreed.