"Accidental Racist" Will Be the National Anthem by 2018 or So

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 9 2013 9:47 AM

"Accidental Racist" Will Be the National Anthem by 2018 or So

Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, and Luke Bryan perform onstage during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

"Accidental Racist," the Brad Paisley/LL Cool J collaboration on country star Paisley's new album, is every bit as incredible as a song with that title should be. Paisley's character is a "white man living in the south land" who wears a Confederate flag T-shirt and has conflicted feelings about how it offends people. I'm pretty hard to offend, so I mostly buy it until Paisley's character takes a brief detour into revanchism.

It's this part:

They called it Reconstruction
fixed the buildings dried some tears
we're still sifting through the rubble
after 150 years

How can the "accidental racist" be ignorant and yet have a sophisticated D.W. Griffith spin on Reconstruction? This line elevates the song from a little slice of kitsch to an oddly poignant statement of white pride—whites deserve some sympathy too, right, given that their secessionist war was answered by 15 years of occupation and forced suffrage of blacks, which was superseded by 80 more years of segregation and Jim Crow laws?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 2:11 PM Spare the Rod What Charles Barkley gets wrong about corporal punishment and black culture.
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.