August 29, 2012


Country Singer John Rich Brands Clay Aiken "Racist" for RNC Tweet

Getty Images, 2
Getty Images, 2

During last night's Republican National Convention, a war of words broke out between two singers (and, coincidentally, Celebrity Apprentice veterans!) on Twitter. John Rich—of hitmaking country duo Big & Rich—branded American Idol season two runner-up Clay Aiken "racist" for joking about the dearth of black people at the RNC.

"Playing drinking game with my brother now," Aiken tweeted as the RNC broadcast commenced. "We drink every time we see a black person on screen at the RNC convention #SoberAsAMormon"

The ginger-haired singer's new drinking game did NOT sit well with Rich. "Clay, you should be ashamed for racist comments like THAT! WOW," Rich tweeted at him, later adding, "Clay, you're better than that… I hope. Sincerely, JR."

Given that Rich recorded a song specifically for John McCain's 2008 bid, it's no shock that Aiken's tweet would rub him the wrong way. But calling Aiken's tweet "racist" may be a bit of a stretch—or at least missing the point. 

Rich lumped Aiken's "drinking game" tweet with the then-trending hashtag "negrospotting," both of which he decried: "I've just had enough of this racist nonsense. It's sick. PLS STOP."

The thing is, #negrospotting was started by comedian and author Baratunde Thurston—a black man—specifically to call out the small number of black people at the RNC. He's using the outdated, offensive term "negro" not because he's from the year 1915, but rather to link Republicans to out-of-touch race terminology.

Aiken did respond to Rich by the end of the night. After Rich once again went on the offense, prodding Aiken with, "I thought your charity was for inclusion, not EXCLUSION," the Idol alum posted his response: "My charity is. Why isn't your party?" 

What do you think? Was Aiken out of line or is Rich overreacting?