Conservative men online are mad about a lot of things right now: Black people getting cast as mermaids. Black people getting cast as mythical elves. And now, a Black woman playing a crystal flute owned by dead slave-owning president James Madison on stage—while twerking, bedazzled, and pantsless—has simply sent them over the edge.
On Tuesday night, Lizzo kicked off her latest tour by blowing on the fourth president’s 200-year-old instrument. No, that’s not a euphemism: The classically-trained “Grrrrls” singer literally played the antique instrument on stage for a brief solo—being the first person to ever do so—liberating it from its vault at the Library of Congress, where it’s been stored for the better part of two centuries.
She had, of course, practiced in the historical Library beforehand, and they were thrilled to bring some attention to the old flute and hear for the first time what kinds of sounds came out of it.
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But the stunt seems to have knocked the wind out of white conservative America, and their complaints have been loud and shrill: Self-described theocratic fascist Matt Walsh accused Lizzo of “desecrating American history,” while also adding a generous dose of fatphobia to his useless commentary.
Unsurprisingly, right-wing darling Ben Shapiro also felt the need to defend the flute’s honor. In a new episode of his show, Shapiro said that Lizzo’s performance “speaks to the, sort of, gentility of America’s founders being brought into a context that is vulgar. It’s the vulgarization of American history.”
Conservative personality Greg Price weighed in to accuse Lizzo of “degrad[ing] our history.” Our history!
Let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves that Madison owned more than 100 slaves and originated the three-fifths compromise that refused to recognize Black Americans as whole people. Lizzo does not owe him the respect of wearing pants to play his instrument two centuries later, my guys—and I’d bet my life that none of you had even heard of this fucking flute (which, of course, was returned safely to the Library after Lizzo’s show) before she came out and played it.
This is the dumbest non-controversy ever. Please consider being angry about literally anything else.