The Chicks were right.
That's what it comes down to. If sustained applause rings out in an arena near you this summer, could be the Dixie Chicks are strutting into town. Fans know for sure the Chicks were within their rights to speak out against fellow Texan, George W. Bush, three years ago, and appreciate the spunk and courage they displayed.
Remember? It was March 10, 2003, and Bush had made it clear he intended to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq within days. Many thousands of lives hung in the balance, yet no one seemed to notice that aspect of the approaching war—not in this country at least.
To blaring trumpets, skirling violins and loud drum-machines, the talking heads at CNN, ABC and especially Fox were still gushing over how brilliantly Colin Powell had made the case at the UN for war against Iraq, with his photographs of trucks and bulldozers, his bag of phony Anthrax and weird tape recordings. The world responded with the largest peace demonstration in history—an event all but ignored by American media--against a war that hadn't even started.
It was a war that didn't have to start, if the truth be told, and in March, 2003, the Dixie Chicks were among the few who dared speak that truth to power. In retrospect the words uttered at a London concert seem rather tame. "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,” said lead Chicks singer, Natalie Maines.
Those who hurled ugly names at the Dixie Chicks, those who burnt their records, pushed them off the airwaves and otherwise demonized them for standing up to Bush got it wrong. It's clear now that many were duped into supporting a war based on trumped up charges, rosy predictions, and cherry-picked intelligence—a war that has become an albatross around our collective neck.
Big media got it wrong not only about invading Iraq, but also about the Chicks. Their recordings shot up the charts and they remain one of the hottest bands of all time. Their current CD is among the best-selling records in the country, and lots of concert dates are sure to sell out. That's something the Chicks refuse to do--at least in a political sense. They're still dissing their president in words and music. And they remain within their rights to do so.
The campaign against the Chicks represents political correctness run amok. You heard right. Far too long that mocking phrase, “political correctness” has been used as a moniker to brand rhetoric from the left. But the ugliest form of political correctness occurs whenever there's a war on. Then you'd better watch what you say. Three years ago, a virulent strain of right wing political correctness all but shut down debate about the war in Iraq. Not only was it deemed “impolite” to criticize the war. Firebrands like Anne Coulter and Bill O'Reilly called it treason. Partly as a result of such nonsense, we dug ourselves in deeper. Many thousands died and tens of thousands more were maimed and emotionally scarred. Our nation became famous for torture, deceit, wiretapping and aggression.
So who betrayed this country? Anyone who looks at the quagmire in Iraq—with its carnage of innocents, torture and damage to our beleaguered troops--knows the answer. Anyone who looks at the corruption involving Bush's old pals at Enron and Dick Cheney's old pals at Halliburton knows it. Anyone who looks at the president's campaign to hide the truth about global warming knows it. Many of our best entertainers have known all along precisely who betrayed us by misleading us into war.
Some say entertainers shouldn't comment on politics and religion. That's exactly backwards. When the news media fall down on the job entertainers are precisely right to pick up the slack.
Willie Nelson drives cars fueled by spent cooking oil. He tours on buses that can run on hemp oil. It's his way of making a point about reusable fuels that the mainstream media refuse to make often enough.
On May 31, I heard that easy-voiced American hero, Paul Simon, tell a “Nightline” audience he feared Bush was leading the world to some kind of terrible apocalyptic war based on false interpretation of Scripture. Isn't it past time the media looked into this?
When Neil Young came out swinging with his song, “Let's Impeach the President,” he was speaking for millions of Americans the mainstream media mostly ignore.
America's actors, writers, musicians and artists got where they are by knowing and expressing a good deal about human nature—especially the human heart in conflict with itself. The world would be a scarier, deadlier place if that prophet Bob Dylan had not pointed out “It's a Hard Rain's Gonna Fall” and so many other inconvenient truths of our times.
If the press is slow to articulate the downside of going to war, then let the Chicks have at it. Three years ago, they told us their truth, and history bears them out. They were right to be ashamed of their president.
They still are.