Ok, so Brad Paisley isn’t the devil. Not even close. I really enjoyed his work with William Shatner on that one good Shatner album. Paisley’s new song, “Accidental Racist”, has been widely ridiculed on the left side of the spectrum as ham-fisted, missing-the-point, and being a tepid step towards addressing the ugly fact that the Venn diagram of “white Southern country and western fans who fly the rebel flag” and “racists” has a lot of overlap.
I think all of those criticisms are valid, but…
I also think almost all steps in the right direction that go against the predominant cultural grain look ham-fisted and tepid. I’m reminded of “don’t ask, don’t tell” which was recognized, even in it’s time, as an awkward compromise that no one really felt good about. Or look at Kipling’s reviled “white man’s burden,” which was considered quite progressive for it’s time. It looks horribly racist in retrospect because, well, it was horribly racist. I believe that Kipling’s intent was good and he was trying to move the discussion forward, but obviously, he fell well short of the mark.
That’s how I feel about Paisley’s effort as well. Look at his audience: He’s not in a place where he can say “We really ought to stop flying the flag of the one army that genuinely went to war against the United States because they ‘hated our freedom’ .” * It’d be great if he did go there, but I’m willing to give him a little credit for at least acknowledging that there’s some friction here and trying to address it.
* P.S. I have no clue how to properly punctuate that bit and I’m not going to ruin this lovely Sunday by opening up my Strunk and White. Sorry.