Not everyone is happy Elvis Presley received a Presidential Medal of Freedom award posthumously.
On Friday, President Trump bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor on seven people, including late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and baseball great Babe Ruth. The award is given to those who have made contributions to national interests and security, world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. Presley’s inclusion, however, has sparked a debate about the possible racial undertones of the choice.
An opinion piece published by the Washington Post titled “Is Trump Sending a Message by Awarding the Medal of Freedom to Elvis? Yes.” was widely shared online.
“Yes, Presley is among the most pivotal and controversial musicians of the previous century, so yes, this is another needling MAGA maneuver — a little nod to the good old days, back when black visionaries could invent rock-and-roll, but only a white man could become the king,” pop culture critic Chris Richards wrote, adding, “America is still afraid of a black planet.”
Many people on Twitter who were equally upset.
Time to piss a couple people off: I just watched Trump honor Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley.. two people notorious for being racist. We can’t be serious. Yes they deserve to be honored in sport and music, but to be awarded with the highest civilian award of our country? It’s wrong.
— Kyasia Duling. (@kydflash_24) November 16, 2018
All this #MedalofFreedom ceremony highlights 2 me is the black music artistry robbed & copied 2 help make legends like #Elvis , & the black atheletes not allowed 2 compete w #baberuth due 2 racism. & Orrin hatch is an ass.
— Chris Ross (@mestasenesta) November 16, 2018
i have so many feelings about liking elvis’ music (loosely used possessive, since he stole his music from black people 🤷🏾♀️) but also him being so racist that trump his gave him a medal of freedom
— kay. (@katstratf0rd) November 16, 2018
Listen, I love Elvis Presley as much as the next guy, but awarding the presidential medal of freedom to a man who was maybe, probably racist (?) and who also built a career out of appropriating black music seems a little inappropriate? https://t.co/CyBB7cI3l3
— Dominic Ulibarri (@dommdizzle) November 10, 2018
However, there were plenty of counterarguments floating around as well — like a piece from the Weekly Standard‘s Mark Hemingway, titled “Elvis Wasn’t Racist. Neither is Giving Him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
“Even if Elvis popularized an art form that people of another race largely invented, it’s hard to argue that lots and lots of successful black artists didn’t walk right through the doors he opened. Presley was initially a hero among black musicians in Memphis for that reason, and there’s no reason to think Elvis himself was racist. Quite the opposite, in fact,” he argues.
“Music is one of a precious few cultural forces still holding us together. It’s not zero sum; we can acknowledge that more credit is owed to black musical pioneers and acknowledge that Elvis was remarkably talented man a who made a singular connection with tens of millions of Americans that went well beyond race,” he continued.
The notion was met with equal support.
The Washington Post is a liberal joke – they try to make race the issue in everything Trump does! That Elvis was racist is just another slam of “white men.” He was not racist; he loved black music and he had many black fans. Get over yourselves and try to report the truth!
— Marc Olson (@Marc1947Olson) November 16, 2018
@Chris__Richards Honoring Elvis is a racist move? You are a moron, but most Leftists are. Stick to music, although it doesn’t seem that you know much about that, instead of politics.
— Shane Locke (@ShaneLocke8) November 16, 2018
So apparently Trump is racist for honoring Elvis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Wtf 🤔
— Brett Knutson (@Diabadass1022) November 16, 2018
— IG- presley.ok (@ok_presley) November 11, 2018
it’s fine to not like Elvis but you shouldn’t let racists steal him because that was not his wave nor that of the early integrated innovators of rock and roll https://t.co/Gg9xe25QgS
— Identity Condiment (@CJIsWingingIt) November 16, 2018
Noticeably absent from the ceremony was Presley’s only child, Lisa Marie. It’s not clear if she was ever asked by the White House to attend or participate in Friday’s event. Yahoo Entertainment reached out to her publicist for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
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