Brad Paisley has sure stepped in it, recording a new track entitled “Accidental Racist” for his new album, which is out tomorrow. The story of the song centers around the singers choice to wear the stars and bars into a Starbuck’s.
I think the flying of the confederate flag or wearing it on clothing is just dumb. The South didn’t fight for state’s right’s during the civil war, they fought to protect and defend the institution of slavery which the economy and culture of the south was built upon. So each time people of reasonable intelligence see that symbol they have every right to either judge you as supporting slavery or being too stupid to realize what you’re endorsing. Either way, it isn’t good.
Paisley is quoted by Entertainment Weekly explaining:
“It really came to a boil last year with Lincoln and Django, and there’s just a lot of talk about it. It was really obvious to me that we still have issues as a nation with this. There are two little channels in each chorus that really steal the pie. One of them is, ‘We’re still picking up the pieces, walking on eggshells, fighting over yesterday,’ and the other is, ‘Paying for the mistakes that a lot of folks made long before we came.’ We’re all left holding the bag here, left with the burden of these generations. And I think the younger generations are really kind of looking for ways out of this.
“I just think art has a responsibility to lead the way, and I don’t know the answers, but I feel like asking the question is the first step, and we’re asking the question in a big way. How do I show my Southern pride? What is offensive to you? And he kind of replies, and his summation is really that whole let’s bygones be bygones and ‘If you don’t judge my do rag, I won’t judge your red flag.’ We don’t solve anything, but it’s two guys that believe in who they are and where they’re from very honestly having a conversation and trying to reconcile.
I’ve listened to the tune and I advise you to listen to it yourself before making a judgement, I’ve pasted it below.
I don’t have information that would lead me to believe that Paisley is a racist, but like other supporters of the confederate flag, I think his endorsement of it seems to be more a middle finger to the rest of the world than an embrace of his own culture. Unfortunately there has been a long and consorted effort in this country to obscure the origins of the civil war and push slavery into the background, context which a song like Paisley’s ignores (to be fair it would be hard to address all the issues in a 3 minute pop song).
I think the lyric in the song, which features a rap lyric written and performed by LL Cool J, asking the listener to try to reach understanding with those they don’t know is commendable.
I would hope that Paisley uses this opportunity to have a dialogue with his fans on the issue. Maybe use his considerable fame and fortune to host some town halls as he tours. Debate is always a good thing, but when it comes to the confederate flag, no debate will erase what it means. Time to put it away and move on. Maybe Paisley’s town halls can become creative work sessions on a new symbol southern pride.