It was ten years ago tonight that the Dixie Chicks, extremely popular then and far from controversial, caused a massive stir when singer Natalie Maines declared on stage in London: “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.” It was a little more than a week before their fellow Texan launched a war based on lies.
Of course, hatred was quickly spewed in the Chicks’ direction by media types, political figures and country music yahoos—who never then or now get so excited when right-wing entertainers and media celebs make threats against a Democratic president.
Boycotts were immediately announced. Maines clarified two days later, “I feel the president is ignoring the opinions of many in the US and alienating the rest of the world.” But record sales and advance sales of concert tickets plunged.
Maines then issued an apology, of sorts: “As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. 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.”
Good old true American Merle Haggard weighed in:
I don’t even know the Dixie Chicks, but I find it an insult for all the men and women who fought and died in past wars when almost the majority of America jumped down their throats for voicing an opinion. It was like a verbal witch-hunt and lynching.
But President Bush argued: “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say.… they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out.… Freedom is a two-way street ….”
The Chicks then posed semi-nude on the cover of Entertainment Weekly with words they had been called slightly covering them, e.g., “Dixie Sluts.” But their popularity would never be the same (although they did win a bunch of Grammys in 2006). Some stations still will not play their old tunes. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 American troops and more than a 125,000 Iraqis would die in a war based on lies. See my new book, So Wrong for So Long, for much more on the war and media malpractice.
Greg Mitchell’s book So Wrong For So Long, on Bush, the media and the Iraq war, was published last week in an expanded edition for the first time as an e-book.