On March 9th, 2003 (ten days before the U.S. invaded Iraq in the mission named “Iraqi Freedom”) lead singer Natalie Maines of the country group The Dixie Chicks said the following during a London concert, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” Oh, what a bru-ha-ha this caused. Country fans called radio stations complaining the Chicks had been unpatriotic and un-American, especially as the comment was made on foreign soil. This was soon followed by boycotts, record burnings and even death threats.
Not surprisingly, the Chicks were shocked by the vehemence of the reaction, especially the death threats made against them and their families. The Dixie Chicks took some time off and concentrated on the business of living and raising their young children. They returned to the music scene with the song, I’m Not Ready To Make Nice from their album, Taking the Long Way and even followed up their subsequent tour with a documentary film, Shut Up And Sing. I have always liked this song and its message very much.
Here is the song:
I’m not sure if times have changed or if there is a double standard, but I can’t help but compare the tempest in a teapot that the Chicks were landed in for expressing their dismay over the US invasion of Iraq, and let’s be honest, it dismayed a great many people, with the rhetoric that is tossed around in today’s political climate.
Take, for example, the pottie mouth on Ted Nugent in this clip from 2007:
You kiss your mother with that mouth, Ted? Now, granted, Mr. Nugent wasn’t on foreign soil and he wasn’t speaking about a sitting president, but he was speaking about two presidential candidates (both of whom were US Senators), as well as three other serving senators. I’m all for expressing one’s opinions, but surely there are better language choices to be made.
Now granted, it’s Ted Nugent we’re talking about, even as the heavy metal fan that I am, I would have to grant him more balls than brains. So, how about comments made about Obama since he became president? In August of 2011 Colorado House of Representatives member Doug Lamborn referred to Obama’s economic policies as a “tar baby”. In May and June of 2010 Glenn Beck repeatedly attacked the President’s family including his wife, mother and grandparents. Beck even went so far as to do a bit insulting the intelligence of the then eleven-year-old Melia. Okay, that’s not a fair example, as everyone knows Beck is insane.
Then there’s perennial misogynist, racist, and all around white trash radio show host Rush Limbaugh, who said on June 26th, 2009, “Americans look at Obama and they say, “Oh, the first black president,” and they go, “Oh, we’re shedding some of our guilt here. Look how enlightened we are, what a great country we are,” when, in fact, we’ve elected somebody who’s more African in his roots than he is American, loves his father, who was a Marxist, and is behaving like an African colonial despot.” Wait, Mr. Limbaugh is insane, too.
How about the whole Tea Party movement? These are probably some of the exact same people who sent the Dixie Chicks death threats when they said they were ashamed the President of the United States was from Texas, yet somehow they can justify holding rallies with signs like this:
How is that patriotic? How is that American? Don’t we have respect, at least, for the office itself?
I guess one could make a good case for group insanity with the Tea Party bunch, too.
Still, lunacy aside, what is happening? It’s not simply what’s directed at our President. The comments in the news, you’ve all heard them, calling perfectly respectable women “sluts”, the angry speeches regarding other religions and even wanting to send our children to college is called elitist. Nine years ago, expressing an opinion of shame about the then Commander-in-Chief was grounds for death threats, now many of populace seems unfazed by the language used. Why is that? Are we numb? Was it because the Chicks are women? Because the President at the time was Republican? When did people become so disrespectful? So unkind?
I don’t have any answers. I was sort of hoping one of you might.