Wednesday, December 17, 2014

As requested by....no one, "Accidental Racist" burns up the web

As requested by....no one, "Accidental Racist" burns up the web

LL Cool J, left, and Brad Paisley.
LL Cool J, left, and Brad Paisley.

You probaby know CPAC -- the Conservative Political Action Conference that's held every winter inside the Beltway. It's always been a time for pandering to the right wing's lowest instincts -- the kind of place where the John Birch Society is welcome but gay Republicans not so much. But this year's model marked a new low when a forum called "Trump the Race Card" -- on reaching out to black voters -- instead devolved to the point when one attendee claimed Fredrick Douglass should have been grateful for the food and shelter he received as a slave.

When that happened, I know what you were probably thinking: Why hasn't someone put all this to music?. Now, just a few weeks, country star  Brad Paisley has come pretty darn close, with a song called -- seriously, for real -- "Accidental Racist." (Apparently in 2013 it's possible to "troll" the Billboard Hot 100.) But wait, it gets better. Paisley does it with help from his black friend, LL Cool J.

Tonight I had to leave the computer for two hours and I came back and "Accidental Racist" had bumped Margaret Thatcher as the only thing folks are talking about on the web. Here's a sample of the lyrics:

'Cause I'm a white man livin' in the southland
Just like you I'm more than what you see
I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done
And it ain't like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn't start this nation
And we're still paying for the mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Suffice it to say the critical feedback has not been very positive. Popdust:

GLOSSING OVER SLAVERY AND JIM CROW AS “MISTAKES”: Calling your girlfriend your ex’s name is a mistake. Systematically robbing millions of people of their humanity goes a little further than that. For the sake of lyrical brevity we understand why Brad didn’t go into the whole history here, but there’s got to be a better two-syllable word that works in that spot.

Indeed, LL Cool J is getting ripped almost as much as Paisley. Gawker:

(And let's not even start with LL, who croons to Brad that "If you don't judge my gold chains/I'll forget the iron chains" [this is a bad negotiating strategy for reparations, James] before asserting that "The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin'." Maybe he's in the middle of the Pynchon book?)

But hey, listen to the song below and judge for yourself. My own two cents: No doubt there's a good intention or two buried in there somewhere, but embracing the worst stereotypes about both southern whites and urban blacks probably isn't your best starting point. And just because you weren't personally responsible for slavery isn't a license to shrug it off. Accidental racists? As LL Cool J himself might say...don't call it a comeback. They've been here for years.

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Will Bunch
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