In May, National Public Radio carried an essay arguing that the old American folk tune “Turkey in the Straw,” long the melody of choice for ice cream trucks, was really “horribly racist.” Of course, a tune can’t be racist unless it is intended to communicate a racist message, which is impossible if nobody who hears the music discerns racial animus. NPR took care of that in a hurry. As soon as that new bit of imaginary racism surfaced, I knew that this grand old tune, a standard for square dances, country fiddlers, blue-grass bands and of course, the Good Humor truck, was on the way to oblivion. I wrote..
“You know the next step, though, because it is so familiar. Some race-huckster…will seize on NPR’s piece, and organize a Good Humor boycott, and the weak and principle-free corporate executives will fold immediately, issue an apology, and change the tune played by the trucks…”
Shortly after the appearance of the NPR piece and its progeny, Audi began running a TV ad that involved an ice cream truck playing…”Turkey in the Straw.” Someone, I don’t know who, maybe my predicted race-huckster, maybe some internal political correctness watch-dog, maybe an NPR fan, intervened, and now, “Turkey in the Straw” is gone, replaced by the melody of “Pop Goes the Weasel.”
Mission accomplished, Race Grievance Hit Squad, NPR, Cultural Censors! American musical culture heritage is diminished, and a piece of music that entertained Americans of all races for centuries is on the way to extinction. You must be so proud.
I’m curious: what’s next on your hit list, “Huckleberry Finn”?