Speaking Truth To Power
The results are now in on the Dixie Chicks Natalie Maines and Toby Keith flap that started some three years ago, and the clear and obvious winner is Maines. Too bad, Toby. She was right. You were wrong.
Three years ago and just two weeks before the Iraq invasion, Maines told a London audience, “'Just so you know, we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
Maines later apologized for the comment, but her remark sparked an outcry in the country music industry. Some stations even refused to play the band’s music, and the band received threatening letters. Maines also criticized Okie Toby Keith’s jingoistic song, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” and Keith returned the “compliment” by criticizing Maines’ songwriting capabilities, according to news reports. It was a star spat that Keith appeared to win initially in terms of the country music industry and fan loyalty.
Keith, of course, is the Oklahoma musician who rambles the sidelines during Oklahoma Sooner football games and poses for local library, literacy posters that say, “Read Y’All.” He owns a restaurant in Bricktown. The latest album from Oklahoma’s Ambassador of Intellectualism, the state's favorite role model, is titled “White Trash With Money.”
Just for the record, here some of those saber-rattling Keith lyrics on “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue:”
Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you’ll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
`Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass
It’s the American way
Three years into a botched war with an imperial president who has sanctioned the torture of prisoners in American custody and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens, Keith’s song seems misguided and Maines’ words seem prophetic. Essentially, Maines was right about the war, and Keith was wrong. Keith’s nationalistic, violence-sanctioning rant represents the type of shallow, emotional manipulation that Bush and company used to rile the masses into believing the president’s lies about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Maines and her fellow band members, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, are currently promoting their new album, “Taking the Long Way.” The band members say they are trying to broaden their audience outside of the country music industry, which turned against them when they dissented from the initial nationalistic fervor surrounding the Iraq war.
Here are some lyrics from the song, “Not Ready To Make Nice:”
I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over
In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Maines said, "I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President. But I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.” Who can argue with that? Bush’s approval rating is under 30 percent in one poll, and a clear majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to invade Iraq.
In the final analysis, Maines was right and Keith was wrong about Bush and the war. She and her band deserve to be vindicated. Keith and others in the country music industry should issue some type of statement, with the release of the Dixie Chicks new album, that says dissent is patriotic. Not everyone who listens to country music is a mindless Bushbot willing to blindly follow him aimlessly into a misguided war.
Webby Awards Creator Visits OKC
Tiffany Shlain, the creator of the Webby Awards, will be in Oklahoma City this coming week at the June 1 Oklahoma Technology Conference.
Shlain is a tech guru, screenwriter, and film director.
The Webby Awards were established in 1996 and are highly coveted. Former Vice President Al Gore was recently given an award for his work in advancing the Internet during his political career.
Senate Democrats Should Hold Firm
Oklahoma Democratic Senators should hold firm in upcoming budget negotiations and ensure the state funds educational programs instead of giving large tax breaks to rich people. What is there to lose?
The state has a $1 billion surplus this year. The state has a real opportunity to help adequately fund schools and colleges. Cutting the income tax rate, a move which would primarily benefit the state’s wealthiest residents, is simply not prudent or far-sighted. How will this money be replaced during down years? What will happen to the state’s financial foundation in coming years without adequate revenue streams?
The country’s wealthiest citizens, along with big corporations, have received huge tax cuts during the five years of the Bush presidency. It is time for Oklahoma teachers to be able to afford their health insurance and for our children to have enough textbooks in any given classroom. Our colleges and universities, which represent the state’s future, need a big boost as well. Our college students, for example, have dealt with skyrocketing tuition increases and gasoline prices recently.
Check out the Web site of the Alliance for Oklahoma’s Future, which breaks down the state’s budget issues.