The rap group NWA ("Niggers With Attitude") sings happily "{Expletive} Tha Police." In their hip-hop rhythms they tell listeners that "takin' out a police will make my day," and advise fans to "beat a police outta shape." Another rap group, Public Enemy, struts on stage with a security force in paramilitary garb. A group member, Professor Griff, told reporters that Jews are responsible for "the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe." Public Enemy also sings to its young, mostly black listeners that antisemitic black Muslim minister Louis "Farrakhan's a prophet and I think you ought to listen to what he can say to you, what you ought to do." Ice-T, another rapper, regularly refers to women as "bitches," and makes it plain that women are treacherous, greedy, animalistic and best when disciplined by sexual abuse. Public Enemy sings a hateful song in the same vein about a woman whom they call the "Ho," and rap with righteous vindication about how the woman took money from a man and he then "beat the bitch down till she almost died." Heavy D and the Boyz, another rap group, have a No. 1 album, "Big Tyme," on which they tell listeners they can be "happy as a faggot in jail." From the white racist side of the fence comes the heavy metal group Guns N'Roses with these lyrics: "Immigrants and faggots/ They make no sense to me/ They come to our country/ And think they'll do as they please/ Like start some mini-Iran/ Or spread some {expletive} disease." Lead singer Axl Rose also sings about "niggers," whom he wants to "get outta my way/ Don't need to buy none/ Of your gold chains today." The record industry's profitable, public venting of racism, homophobia and woman-hating in the popular music of hip, young Americans has yet to prompt any major outcry from adults, feminist groups, black civil rights groups or gay groups. Most of the parent groups concerned with lyrics in popular music confine themselves to objecting to sexual imagery that might encourage promiscuity. When it comes to racism, sexism and gay-bashing, however, there is a roaring silence. The only public response in the black community has been the refusal of many black-oriented radio stations to play racist rap songs. Public Enemy, not content with having silenced any active criticism in the black community, goes so far as to even challenge the black radio stations for their quiet refusal to be in complicity with racism: "Radio stations I question their blackness/ They call themselves black but we'll see if they play this," sings Public Enemy. Many white, heavy metal radio stations do not share the same moral distaste for Guns N'Roses's hateful song, and like snickering children beep out the offending words in the group's racist tirade as their knowing audiences wink. On neither black nor white radio stations is there a straightforward response to these bigoted diatribes. There is only avoidance or silence. The main reason for the failure to respond is fear of being accused of censorship. Jewish groups, for example, complained about Professor Griff and his antisemitic rhetoric. But they carefully avoided a scatter-gun condemnation of racism and sexist attitudes in the group's lyrics that might have weakened the focus on antisemitism and opened them to charges of censorship. The FBI, similarly, responded to its particular concern with NWA by writing a letter to the group's record company, Priority Records, complaining that "{Expletive} Tha Police" is a song that "encourages violence against and disrespect for the law enforcement officer ... advocating violence and assault is wrong and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action." Like the Jewish groups, the FBI tried to avoid charges of censorship by limiting its concern to the song directed at police officers. The narrowly focused criticism from both Jewish groups and the FBI was quickly dismissed among some black rappers. In a June news conference, Chuck D of Public Enemy excused the antisemitism of Professor Griff's comments by explaining the group is "not anti-Jewish, anti-anyone -- we are pro-black." This failed logic, which equates pro-black stance with bigotry toward whites and particularly Jews, has been allowed to flourish by the absence of outcry from black civil rights groups. Similarly, gay groups and groups representing black women and feminists have failed to join the dialogue and remove the rappers' transparent attempt to legitimize their bigotry, woman-hating and support of violence as progressive black thinking. The only sanction placed on Guns N'Roses for its talk of "faggots" was being taken off the schedule for a concert to raise money for AIDS research. But otherwise the gay community has failed to loudly respond to any of its musical attackers. The leaders in this game of silence have been the record companies who are making money from selling hate-mongering to teens. Bryn Bridenthal, director of media and artists relations for Geffen Records, told the New York Times that Guns N'Roses "has a lot of power because they've sold a lot of records." She added that the company doesn't endorse the group's racist, xenophobic rantings but "if you are going to start censoring your artists it's going to damage your relationship ... and if you've got an artist like Guns N'Roses you want to keep the relationship with the company. In the end Geffen Records just does not support censorship of the artists' creative desires." Totally discarded by Geffen Records is all responsibility for music as a social influence, particularly among young people. The record industry is not alone in keeping quiet. There has been a cowardly rush to avoid any large-scale condemnation of these venomous lyrics, and the reason was evident in the Oct. 10 Village Voice. It featured NWA on its cover with a large red-lettered headline that looked like an oppressive government stamp of censure and read: "The FBI Hates This Band and Other Tales of Culture Crackdown in the Age of Helms." The accompanying article offered passing criticism of NWA's lyrics, saying "only a dimwit would salute its values." But the story then goes on to focus on the FBI letter and associate it with the efforts of a small group, Parents' Music Resource Center, which has aimed its fire at sexually explicit lyrics. The Voice maligned two leaders in the parents' group, Tipper Gore, wife of Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.), and Susan Baker, wife of Secretary of State James Baker, for their stands against openly sexual lyrics by calling them censors. Mrs. Baker got particularly savage attention as a woman who "incarnates the stiff-necked, anti-sexual Born Again... . " The fear of being labeled a censor has thwarted any concerted effort to counter the thumping, hateful messengers of the rappers or heavy metal players. Even worse is the sentiment, regularly exploited by Axl Rose and NWA, that the critics are really trying to censor art by limiting the topics they can sing about. Sean Penn, the actor, wrote to the New York Times to defend Guns N'Roses' hateful song by arguing that anyone who condemns the group is censoring great art. Penn described the song about "niggers," "immigrants" and "faggots" as "a brave song." He never once dealt with the possibility that the song might endorse and encourage racist and bigoted attitudes and behavior. The same mindset of labeling everyone who objects to racism a censor was evident in a Rolling Stone interview with Axl Rose. He complained about critics who object to his use of the term "nigger," by asking, "Why can black people go up to each other and say 'nigger' but when a white guy does it all of a sudden it's a big put-down? I use the word 'nigger' to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life ... 'nigger' doesn't necessarily mean black." Aside from his stunning ignorance of American history, which gives the word 'nigger' a deadly weight that Rose apparently is unfamiliar with, the singer is on the right track. He does connect directly with an existing river of resentment among young white men against blacks and women because of preferences for blacks and women in college admissions and scholarships and the fear that competition from minorities and women may limit their chances in the job market. But when Rose justifies his use of "nigger" as a neutral term that does not "necessarily mean black," he is either a straight-out liar or practicing historical revisionism at its most outlandish. As Rose connects with white male resentment, NWA connects with the romance black middle-class teens have with the image of the ghetto -- angry and confrontational poor black street-thugs and the glitzy cars and women of the drug dealer culture. Glazed over that teen fantasy is a generalized anger at whites as the "establishment," reflected in Public Enemy's song "Fight the Power." NWA singer Ice Cube calls his song about killing policemen a "revenge fantasy." In the video for "{Expletive} Tha Police," NWA shows police brutally rounding up black teenagers just because they were wearing heavy gold chains and beepers. And the Village Voice notes that 339 Americans were shot by police officers in 1988, as if to justify NWA's exhortation to kill policemen. The paper does not cite the 151 deaths of policemen protecting the public last year. Neither does the paper cite the high rate of criminal activity among young black males nor mention the skyrocketing rate of black male murder of other black males. But ignoring all those complex factors, the Village Voice seems happy to support NWA's endorsement of murder as an appropriate response to problems between police and black youth. Apparently social activism, politics and other civilized tactics are not acceptable ways for dealing with police brutality. The strongest thread binding Guns N'Roses' racism and the racism of black rappers is a shared conceit that they are revealing the Truth. This is where the national silence or lack of response to these simple-minded polemics becomes an abdication of responsibility in a free society. There is no other side in this argument. No one is talking to Guns N'Roses' fans about the horrors racism has inflicted on black Americans and the damage it has done to the entire society; there is no argument being heard with Public Enemy's antisemitism, no explanation of the horrors perpetrated against Jews by antisemites. There is no explanation to Ice-T's young fans of the importance of respectful male-female relationships to the creation of strong black families. Instead there is a silence enforced by a fear of being labeled censors. The real censors today have become the young bigot, strutting on stage and defending bigotry as truth. Their defense sounds comparable to Hitler's defense of Nazi ideology as based on the truth of Aryan supremacy. It is a national disgrace that in 1989 no one is standing up to a bunch of singing, young, multimillionaire bigots.