Alan Pyke on the Brad Paisley, LL Cool J collaboration, “Accidental Racist”:
The performers call for racism to magically heal itself through major chords and willpower. It’s The Secret by way of Tinkerbell. Paisley doesn’t want to talk to the coffeeshop guy about racism any more than LL wants to talk to white folks about mandatory minimums or systemic disparities in educational outcomes. They each want to know that ‘We’re cool, right bro?’ without actually engaging the ugly substance and legacy of American history. “Accidental Racist” deserves every ounce of clowning it gets, but a song this earnest that actually grappled with racial divisions wouldn’t merit such epic shade-throwing. Unfortunately, the aesthetics here are exactly as simple, cheap, and foolish as the sentiments. Indemnity masquerades as forgiveness, and squeezes critical self-examination conveniently out of the picture for stars&bars fans.
Quick point: “Stars and Bars” is NOT a nickname for the Confederate battle flag (seen above) but for the Confederacy’s first national flag.
IMAGE: Battle flag of the 19th Virginia Infantry, captured during Pickett’s Charge (The Museum of the Confederacy)