“Does that make me crazy? Possibly.”
— Gnarls Barkley
It’s kinda like when you’re emboldened — or angered — enough to just push and push for something, maybe surprisingly gaining ground as you go, and suddenly you like all these gains so you just keep pushing ... until you go too far and teeter over into the land of the absurd.
Then things settle into some agreeable point that everyone can live with, the struggle becoming something that somehow just evaporates away like vapor.
I felt like we were entering the land of the absurd when the Dixie Chicks declared they would, from now on, be called just “Chicks” because of their collective abhorrence of the word “Dixie” and all it symbolizes.
I got a little closer when the people who make Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup decided they would seek absolution for decades of sins by changing the shape of the bottle their product comes in, lest it offend the more sensitive among us.
But when I heard some stuffed shirt — who, I can only assume, was not being ironic — declare that “white milk” is racist, well ... here we are, folks, Absudsville.
I’m proud of the legitimate concessions that have been made in this country in an attempt to heal scabbed-over wounds that were constantly being picked raw — the removal of a Confederate battle emblem from flags and in State Houses and other public, taxpayer-funded, structures, for instance. But when we somehow get it in our heads that “white milk” is racist ... we may be carrying around just a little too much guilt and anger for reason to take root.
(It reminds me, oddly enough, of the scene in the powerful movie “American History X” — if you haven’t seen it, do so, it’s an eye-opener — in which one of the skinheads, offered a jar of jelly beans, takes out all the black ones and tosses them aside.)
While I have no doubt in my mind that some of the original makers of these products most likely had at least a hint of bad intent when they first marketed them and maybe a touch of pure intent when they settled on drastic changes, I am left befuddled by the decisions to:
♦ Remove the Native American woman from Land-O-Lakes products;
♦ Rebrand Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix, Uncle Ben’s rice, as well as Cream of Wheat products because the long-adored, iconic even, figures on the packages of said products are African American;
♦ Nestle candymakers vowing to review every one of the 25,000 products they make because they marketed items overseas called RedSkins, Chicos and Besa de Negra;
♦ And, unkindest of all, the makers of Eskimo Pie determining that their product might be considered insensitive (What, Eskimos don’t eat pie?) and vowing to change its name to something that I only want to know so that I can cut my yearly intake from a few hundred to 0.
The Dixie Chicks are no strangers to controversy — Remember their nude cover of the Rolling Stone in which Natalie Maines said she was ashamed that George Bush, who was then president, was from Texas and how radio stations banned their music? — so their decision seems at least in keeping with precedent. But when the country band Lady Antebellum — whose only brush with controversy was wearing jeans that clashed, declared they would now be known only as “Lady A” because “antebellum” conjured images from the Civil War era ... well, bandwagon jumpers, hop aboard.
(I fully expect country music’s “Chief,” Eric Church, to first apologize for his nickname and then change his last name to House of Worship lest someone not of the Christian faith is offended.)
While my personal declaration that we’ve landed squarely in Absurdsville is certainly not going to be embraced by the woke among us who actually see white milk as racist, I know a lot of people — black, white and all other hues — would much rather see people with power and money doing things that really matter — fighting actual racism, helping fund education programs, fighting hunger — than making some meaningless empty gesture that does nothing more than assuage their feelings of guilt that come with privilege.