I never saw it coming. And apparently, neither did the Dixie Chicks. After singer Natalie Maines told a London audience several weeks ago, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," fans retaliated in protest--from refusing to listen to their music, to smashing their albums in the streets.
There is no debate--those statements were stupid, plain and simple. Angry e-mailers have repeatedly informed me that it was there first amendment right to publicly display their disapproval of the war and the president. But there is no first amendment right; it only exists in America. The "Chicks" acted like cowards, knowing no American audience would welcome such brash statements that were embraced in London. By attacking Bush over in Europe, the "Chicks" stabbed America in the back. It not only diminished their credibility, it made the line dividing pro/anti-war supporters, wider.
Country radio stations around the U.S. have removed the "Chicks" from their play-lists and have sponsored protests in attempts to cripple album sales. Never mind they are currently #1 on the country charts, their popularity since that night has plummeted.
All this negative attention has caught up to the Dixie Chicks. In several interviews, Maines has retracted her statement, saying, "No, I'm not truly embarrassed that, you know, President Bush is from my state, that's not really what I care about," she said. "I felt like there was a lack of compassion every time I saw Bush talking about this. I honestly felt a lack of compassion for people that are questioning this (war), for the people that are about to die for this on both sides."
So you're not ashamed, Natalie? Which is it? You've announced to the world you're ashamed of Bush, and now you're telling us it was a lie? Maines explained to ABC, "At that moment, on the eve of war, I had a lot of questions that I felt were unanswered. I think the way I said it was disrespectful. The wording I used, the way I said it, that was disrespectful. I feel regret for, you know, the choice of words."
Oh, I see. It was one of those in-the-heat-of-the-moment, moments. But I don't buy it. I believe the "Chicks" never expected such an angry reaction back home in the States. But who were they kidding? If they were Hollywood actresses, then no harm would have been done. But these girls are country singers. Country, if you don't know, is primarily a conservatives' music genre of choice. Most of the listeners are pro-Bush southerners, and many of the artists (Charlie Daniels for example) and pro-Bush entertainers. It is no wonder the fans have reacted the way they did, but nobody knew it would last this long.
My last Dixie Chicks column is still the most read political article in Aggressive-Voice, and I still stand by my position. It was wrong for Maines to say what she said, when she said, and where she said it; even Maines herself apologized for apparently not meaning those statements.
I believe they got what they deserved, but it would be ridiculous for people to still be holding a grudge against them. But then again, it was just today when I learned of their retaliation. Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly released next week's cover in which the Grammy-winning Dixie Chicks wear only contradictory slogans painted on their nude bodies. These slogans include "Traitors," "Saddam's Angels," "Dixie Sluts," "Brave," "Boycott," and "Big Mouth."
The message is unclear, but at least we now know Maines isn't completely regretful of her anti-Bush comments. It is also clear that the "Chicks" were hurt by the wave of negative attention This recent stunt will only hurt them, in my opinion. They have nothing prove, yet their determined faces in the picture suggests the war has just begun. But their angry fans were beginning to cool down, their music was beginning to get more play time, and CD's were still selling. But now, it looks like the fire may have just been rekindled.