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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

March 16, 2003

Return of the Ditzy Twits 

The Dixie Chicks have made a Texas-sized mess for themselves. 

Natalie Maines' remarks at a recent London concert, in which she said the Chicks were ashamed that President Dubya was from their home state of Texas, have unleashed a torrent of backlash against the popular country trio. Fans are posting angry comments on Internet message boards, flooding radio stations with complaints (one station in Phoenix even took a poll to see if it should continue playing Dixie Chicks songs), and more have publicly vowed to destroy or return their Chicks' CDs and never buy another one.

One wonders what prompted Maines to say such a thing in wartime on foreign soil. I suppose it's easier to trash your president overseas, in front of a more receptive audience, and thus gain more favor with the locals. 

Of course, in these touchy times in which celebrities flap their gums then quail in fright when people respond to them, one must say that Maines and the other Chicks have every right to believe as she does and tell the world all about it. It's called freedom, and it's a wonderful thing. But her freedom does not somehow restrict the freedom of others to slam her comments. Criticism is not oppression, as several quivering leftists (especially on college campuses) assert. 

In a very lame effort to quell this backlash, on March 12 Natalie Maines published a short explanation on the group's web site. It's pretty much the usual twaddle, especially this little gem: "While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."

A few problems here. First, I can think of plenty of more frightening scenarios. War against Hitler was scary. The Cold War was terrifying, with thousands of Soviet nukes pointed at the U.S. and Europe. War in Korea was scary and horrifying in Vietnam. The Civil War was a disaster. And I'm sure Maines is grateful that our founding fathers risked their lives, fortunes, and honor to sign the Declaration of Independence. That must have been very scary, because they immediately declared themselves traitors. In fact, the British made it a point to search for every man who signed that document and destroy their homes and families. And, you may recall, the minor events on September 11, 2001, were a tad bit unsettling.

Second, it amuses me when pro-Saddam protestors (please, don't call them anti-war or pro-peace. How many marched to protest 9-11, or the Soviet war in Chechnya, or American bombing in Kosovo and Iraq, and countless other conflicts?) cite the Iraqi lives that may be lost in a war, when Iraqi lives are being destroyed now by Saddam Hussein. Their protests only prolong Saddam's reign and the oppression of the Iraqi people. If Maines were so concerned about the deaths of innocent Iraqis, she'd support this war.

Finally, her statement implies that because a course of action may be scary, it's somehow wrong. This is just ludicrous. Many times, doing the right thing is scary, while doing the wrong thing is easy and safe. It's scary for a rape victim to testify against her attacker in court, but it's the right thing to do. It's scary for a battered wife to leave her slimeball husband, but it's the right thing to do. It's scary to confront a killer, but it's the right thing to do. It's scary to risk your job by defying an illegal or immoral order, but it's the right thing to do. It's scary to risk innocent lives by going to war, but it's the right thing to do by preserving countless more lives.

When the March 12 statement proved rightly unsatisfactory, Maines released another one on March 14, in which she apologized to President Dubya for her "disrespectful" remark and claims to love her country.

I don't doubt she loves her country. I'm sure she's a "proud American," as she says. I'm sure she's opposed to the war. But there are better ways to make those views known, and better words in which to express those views.

I don't take much pleasure in slamming the Chicks, to be honest. I'm a fan. When they first appeared, I noticed their wardrobe, their attitudes, and just their style and immediately disliked them and branded them the Ditzy Twits. I didn't care for their songs, except for perhaps Wide Open Spaces. Then in 1999 they released Fly, with songs like Cowboy Take Me Away, Ready to Run, Cold Day in July, and the incomparable and righteous Goodbye Earl, and my defiance started to wither. I watched one of their concerts on TV and grudgingly admitted they were extremely talented musicians. They're also gorgeous (the fiddle player, Martie Maguire, is the best-looking Chick, and I will entertain no disagreement or discussion on this matter). My resistance to the Chicks became futile with Home, their wonderful country/bluegrass album, and I had to admit that I was a fan. My wife and I have all their CDs. I gave up their nickname, of which I was quite proud.

I'll keep listening to their music. I don't think they should be blacklisted, or shunned, or censored, or anything of that sort. If you disagree and want to take a sledgehammer to your Chicks CDs, feel free.

Having said that, I do believe they have earned their original (now affectionate) moniker, and are once again the Ditzy Twits.

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