symbolism, power structure, form, content, and systems of knowledge in a given lyric.
Smoke and mirrors, stripes and stars
Stolen for the cross in the name of God
Bloodshed, genocide, rape and fraud
Written to the pages of the law, good lord
A third degree of inquiry involves many of the topics I’ve already discussed, thus, here is a short summary of the key concepts: Brother Ali connects various words and phrases to elicit a response from the audience. By connecting words like “smoke and mirrors”, “stripes and stars”, to religion and morality, Ali forces the audience to realize that American history is steeped in violence and deception. Our laws and religions should never be compared to violent acts and mysterious, hazy, magic tricks but that’s exactly what Ali introduces in these opening lines. He uses metaphors and symbolism to represent certain ideals in American society, like “pages of the law” and “stripes and stars”, but subsequently tears them down with connections to the violence and confusion I described earlier. Brother Ali utilizes specific sentence structure to achieve this comparison by using the descriptive nouns in one sentence to address misconceptions about American society in the following (it follows a scheme that goes nouns, misconceptions, nouns, misconceptions). But when all of these traits are integrated, Brother Ali’s philosophy begins to shine. This text acts as a system of knowledge because Ali takes the entire history of American success and turns it around to shock the audience into listening even more closely to his philosophical understanding. In this realization, the fourth degree of inquiry reveals itself.