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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The new Dixiecrats

If you've been paying attention to our national discourse over the past few years, you've heard liberals called traitors, Democrats compared to terrorists and a whole lot about how opposing the war hurts the troops.

Maybe no one has taken more heat over that time than the Dixie Chicks. After Natalie Maines' infamous comment about Bush (which the Chicks refer to as "the incident"), things went far beyond a few accusations of treason. Not only were they widely boycotted, but their lives were threatened. Album sales predictably plummeted.

The country music world waited more than three years for the Dixies' next album, to see if they would make nice and come back to the fold. The Chicks' response came through loud and clear:

"Fuck you."

Taking the Long Way is a protest album, make no mistake about it. It's not protesting the war, or Bush, or conservative policies. It's protesting a political environment in which they were told they were traitorous sluts for speaking their minds, told they should sit down, shut up and look pretty.

It's impossible to listen to "Not Ready to Make Nice", their deliberately inflammatory first single, without thinking: "This is how you do it. This is how you stand up for yourself, how you refuse to be silenced." These three women, subject to so much unjustified hate since they had the temerity to criticize the president, are not done by a long shot.

They're not bitter. They're not vengeful. They're indignant, and that makes all the difference in the world.

The Democratic Party could learn a lot from the Dixie Chicks. Aside from a few strident voices like Russ Feingold, Democrats still haven't learned to stand up against Bush.

As Glenn Greenwald discusses in a long and rather depressing post, the Democrats are so afraid of being tarred with the "weak on national security" brush that they continually roll over for whatever the Bush administration wants, whether it's preemptive war with Iraq, warrantless spying on Americans or the Patriot Act. Digby points out that Republicans have been using this tactic for going on 40 years now.

Ann Coulter, who has basically advocated the execution of liberals, appeared on Today and The Tonight Show last week. Where was the outrage from Democrats? Where was the condemnation of this outspoken bigot being given such wide and uncritical exposure? (Peter Daou has an interesting analysis of what these appearances really mean.)

It essentially comes down to this: How are the American people going to trust Democrats to defend the country if they won't defend themselves?

Though some conservatives have tried to spin it like the Dixie Chicks' defiant stance was a pose to sell records, the truth is they had no idea how this album would be received and if it would sell at all (Times Select required for article):
The Dixie Chicks and their manager insisted to their record company that "we need to approach everything like not one radio station is going to play one single song," Ms. Maines said. Asked about country radio, she said, "Do you really think we're going to make an album for you and trust the future of our career to people who turned on us in a day?"
That is how you do it. Have faith in your message and yourself. Speak fearlessly and stand up for yourself, and you will be rewarded: Four weeks after its release, Taking the Long Way is already one of the top-selling albums of the year, despite virtually no radio play. It has been the No. 1 seller on Amazon since well before its release. It's an amazing album.

The American people are desperately hungry for new leadership, but simply waiting for the Republican Party to implode is not enough. If the Democrats would stand up for themselves, speak the truth about what Bush is doing to our country and the reality of the situation in Iraq, they would find an audience they never knew they had.


Blogger Chance-86 said...

As a Libertarian, I find a lot of your comments to be valid. At the same time, I find it typically humorous that liberals (who have verbalized their own opinions) cast stones at conservatives (who verbalize their opinion of the opinion). I don't believe it's treasonous to speak your opposition to is simply your opinion, and you have the right to it. So why, then, is it wrong to speak out against anti-establishmentarianism if that happens to be your opinion? Chix spoke their opinion on the subject. Conservatives spoke theirs...why crucify anyone?
BTW..."Taking the Long Way" freakin rocks!!

Blogger Buck B. said...

I've never contested anyone's right to express their opinion. But along with our right to free speech comes an obligation to use that right in a respectful manner.

There's certainly nothing wrong with country music fans saying they don't like the Dixie Chicks and choosing not to buy their albums. Capitalism is democracy in its purest form, and things worked out as they should — the Chicks lost some fans and gained others.

Who doesn't make those kind of choices? Hell, I like the Wango Tango as much as anyone, but you're not going to catch me with a Ted Nugent album these days.

But when people insult those they don't agree with and call them traitors, they're not accomplishing anything constructive. In fact, they're making things more difficult for those of us who would like to get about the business of actually tackling the huge problems our country is facing. We're all Americans, and it seems there used to be a time when that was more important than what political party you supported.

Blogger FreeThinker said...

I put the new Dixie Chicks CD on my iPod, which I always play in "Shuffle Songs" mode. So when a DC song came up, I did not immediately know who it was ... I liked all the new songs, without prejudicing the songs with politics first!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My big question to Buck B is, Did you actually spend money on this album?

Blogger Buck B. said...

I normally don't believe in giving money to the RIAA (only a tiny percentage of CD sales go to people who actually create the music), but this was one of the few times I actually bought an album. Three copies, in fact.

Gotta support the troops!

Blogger Master Shake said...

You realize, Buck, that (assuming you're a country music fan, from your post it certainly seems that way based on the assertions you make on behalf of the "country music world"), the Dixie Chicks called you and every other fan they have stupid. I can't imagine why their fans wouldn't want to buy their album anymore or why some of them would feel betrayed and angry.

Blogger Buck B. said...

Master Shake,

I am a country music fan, in the sense that I listen to a lot of country music.

But when the Dixie Chicks refer to country music fans in this context, they're not talking about all people who listen to country music. They're talking specifically about the people who called them traitors and boycotted them.

That we both listen to country music is about the only thing those people and I have in common, and when the Dixies talk bad about country music fans, I know that they're not referring to the people (like me) that still listened to them and supported them all this time.

Blogger Buck B. said...

Below is a response to a critique of this blog at Abuse of Discretion.

First, I would like to say thank you for taking the time to read my writings, and more so to respond. Commentary is always appreciated.

Since we're obviously working from entirely different moral perspectives, I won't argue any of the value judgments you make. But (since if I had anything better to do I wouldn't be writing a blog in the first place), I would like to respond to a few of your "factual" criticisms.

The comparison to terrorists is non-existant.

If you are going to play semantic games instead of responding to my underlying points, you could at least do a better job of it than this. Since you seem to be fond of definitions, the definition of "compare" is "to examine and note the similarities or differences of". When Rush states that "Democrats share anti-american agendas with terrorists", that is a comparison. By definition.

"The religious right and Islamic fundamentalists share many of the same views regarding government involvement in religion." Is this not a comparison either?

It sounds incomprehensible to me to identify a "country music world" in the first place (is that just past Mars?), and to further attribute a behavior such as "waiting" to such imaginary world.

How about the "literary world", can I use that? Can I say the literary world is waiting for Harper Lee's next novel? How about the "art world"? Can I say Picasso revolutionized the art world? How about the polka world? Is that OK? Can I make some justified blanket statements about that?

The Dixie Chicks are one of the top-selling bands of all time, let alone in country music. Yes, the "country music world" was waiting for their album, just like the "world of children's literature" is waiting for the next Harry Potter novel.

The "traitorous sluts" link comes from the Guardian, which is about as silly a thing one can reference, unless the story is vehemently pro-GOP. When reading the article, one notices that the Guardian didn't reference the assertion. Big shock. So apparently we'll have to call them and ask where they got their information. I'm still on hold.

The "traitorous sluts" phrase is a reference to their appearance on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, where several of the epithets used against them (including "dixie sluts" and "traitors") were written on their bodies. A picture of this magazine cover appeared with the Guardian article. Literally dozens of references to this from other news organizations (including CNN and The Times of London) can be found with a simple Google search. In the future, I'll make better choices about the links I use to illustrate proven facts.

in·dig·na·tion - Anger aroused by something unjust, mean, or unworthy

Hmm. Is that really the case? Well, to do that, we'd have to discern what they're angered about. This is where I think we hit the limit of intelligence of the writer.

Here's some more definitions for you:

trea·son - The crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government
mean - Unkind, spiteful or unfair
un·just - Not based on or according to what is morally right and fair

Treason is just about the most heinous thing one can be charged with. If you think that accusing someone of betraying her country because of her opinions is not spiteful or unkind, and moreover is morally right, you are certainly entitled your opinion. You might feel differently if a few hundred thousand people called you a traitor for writing something unflattering about Bill Clinton.

I make no claims about your intelligence. Your logic, however, is for shit.

Blogger Master Shake said...

Buck, you'd like to believe they're not talking about you, but if you read their comment they say "The stereotype about country music fans is true." Nowhere do they distinguish. And if you're so upset by moral equivalencies (being called a traitor), you should probably stop your bretheren on the left from comparing Bush to Hitler.

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