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In Defense of the Dixie Chicks

Outrage over “controversial” statement has gone too far.


by Dr. Spin
April 30, 2003

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In Defense of the Dixie Chicks_Dr. Spin-Outrage over “controversial” statement has gone too far. A while ago I received a letter asking me to comment on the controversy surrounding the Dixie Chicks and the anti-Bush statement made by lead singer Natalie Maines. At the time, my interest in the Dixie Chicks was about the same as my interest in country music in general, which is not a lot. I wasn’t exactly sure what Maines had said, only that it was anti-Bush and/or anti-war. My response to the Chicks’ view and the question was that all people have the right to express their views and opinions, and as music fans we have the right to accept or reject their opinions. I wrote the Dixie Chicks off the same as I did with Sheryl Crow, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, and all non-famous war protestors. As much the war bugged me, the way many people protested the war also bugged me; both sides seemed very narrow-minded. This was all before Thursday night, April 24th, when by chance I stumbled on the Dixie Chicks “ABC Primetime” interview with Diane Sawyer.

First, I finally got to hear what Maines’ “controversial” statement was. In so many words, Maines said she was embarrassed to be from the same state as President Bush. I am not certain, but I believe the statement was made while the Chicks were touring Europe (I missed that part of the interview). In their defense, the Chicks were subject to a lot of anti-American and anti-war sentiment while in Europe, also dealing with their own doubts about the war and Bush’s policies. The Dixie Chicks have always been somewhat controversial and outspoken, and while Ms. Maines’ comment may have been somewhat inappropriate given the setting, there is nothing anti-American in her words. Surely, she isn’t the only Texan who disagreed with the Bush administration and its eagerness to go to war with Iraq.

But what really surprised me was the immense backlash and hatred the Dixie Chicks received for Maines’ words. More than any other artist who spoke out against the war, the Dixie Chicks have seen a decline in sales, a banning of their music on radio stations, record/CD burnings/stompings, a call for a statewide ban from a senator in South Carolina, and even death threats. Perhaps because it is the South, where patriotism is fevrenlty high, but the backlash against Maines and the Dixie Chicks is eerily similar to that of John Lennon and the Beatles, when Lennon made his “more popular than Jesus Christ” statement in 1966. Lennon’s statement was about a religious icon; Maines’ was about an American president. Do Maines and the Dixie Chicks deserve the same furor?

There is a dangerous sentiment that’s been brewing in this country since September 11, 2001, an “either you’re for us or against us” attitude where patriotism is almost a religion, and anyone who doesn’t support the current administration doesn’t support America. Those that question the validity of Homeland Security and/or our motivations for war against Iraq are seen as anti-American, anti-patriotism, and possibly even traitors. The Dixie Chicks are not unpatriotic, but rather they are concerned citizens who have right, as Americans, to express their opinions and concerns of where the current administration is leading us as a nation.

In her apology to President Bush on March 14th, Natalie Maines stated, “We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American."

Like the Beatles, the Dixie Chicks will overcome this wave of backlash (will they create their Sgt. Pepper?) and continue to make great country music. As I said, I am not a huge fan of country, but I do recognize good music, and the Dixie Chicks are talented musicians and songwriters. Those that deny themselves of the Chicks’ music because of Maines’ statement are only doing a disservice to themselves. The Dixie Chicks will prevail and have a better fan base.

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Aristan from AL writes:
August 4, 2003
They deserve the backlash they are getting. Maines has only herself to blame and the Beatles comparison is absurd beyond belief. In my opinion the backlash stemmed from taking a cheap shot at the president while in Europe, a cowardly pandering act at best. Celebrities have to realize that there will be consequences to their actions and statements. In this case, the response was programmed given the conservative nature of most country fans. Remember no one was asking them for their opinion. They became famous for their music, Who did they expect to win over? The liberal intelligensia has no place for them, view them as dumb hillbillies and will certainly not buy their albums. People have gotten quite sick of big mouther celebrities like Streisand and Clooney and has beens such as Garafalo and Eddie Vedder. They are left wing elitists who have little in common with most average people. The writing on the wall was clear that their would come a public scapegoat for Americans to crap all over and Maines walked into it. Country fans are more likely to write them off for good. And what will The Dixie Chick's Sgt Pepper be entitled? Private Slovick?

Dr. Spin writes:
August 11, 2003
Maines and the Dixie Chicks are getting what they deserve - they are well on their way to becoming the highest grossing country act of the summer with their current tour.

It seems some country fans are willing to forgive the Dixies, or perhaps the liberal intelligensia does not consider them dumb hillbillies, but rather enjoys their music, as well as their willingness to have opinions. And if we're talking about cowardly pandering acts how about Toby Keith, who profitted from the Dixie Chicks fallout by wrapping himself in the flag and becoming anti-Dixie Chick?

If country fans want all their artists to be conservative Repulicans who never question the authority of the President, so be it. The rest of us will enjoy music for music's sake and not let an artist's politics interfere with our enjoyment of their music.

SHELIA DUFF from Oklahoma writes:
June 19, 2006
I like Dixie Chicks better than ever. They had the nerve to get and say the truth. You go girls !!!

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