I'm not going to make any direct comments on Amiri Baraka, the putative poet who is the Poet Laureate of New Jersey. It's been well covered at NRO, Joanne Jacobs, Jane Galt and in the comments at Little Green Footballs
The comment I was originally going to make was about the silliness of a state even having a Poet Laureate, because why would you expect it to work out any better than this, some no-talent hack leveraging racism and putative dissent into a sinecure? But the larger thought hit me - why has academia degenerated so much that one would expect this? Perhaps I'm misled from living in a heartland state, but nobody cares because they view this kind of thing as standard fare. For those who complain about the decline of "popular intellectuals", they may want to look at the issues like Bakara that contribute to this attitude.