The Sin of Omission

Musician and rock critic Stephin Merritt has lately become a target of several of his fellow critics, who have branded him a racist. Merritt’s crime? Making a list of his favorite songs that included no black artists, disliking modern hip-hop, and saying that he liked the song, “Zip A Dee Doo Dah.” The flame war has ignited a debate over the line between musical taste and the wider culture. Or as one writer put it, “If the number of black artists in your iPod falls too far below 12.5 percent of the total, then you are violating someone’s civil rights.”