I know what you might be thinking, but my affection for them has nothing to do with their famous dislike for President Bushs policies. I love the Dixie Chicks because they are not afraid to take a stand, whether or not others agree with it.
The Chicks could have just kept their mouths shut and continued to rake in millions of dollars as the hottest country act in the U.S. Instead, before the 2003 Iraq invasion, lead singer Natalie Maines expressed her shame that the President is from her home state of Texas.
Well, recently the Dixie Chicks had a new CD come out that has earned critical acclaim - and the controversy has bubbled-up all over again. The fall-out from those comments continue to result in sagging record sales, boycotting of their concerts by former fans, the elimination of the Dixie Chicks from play lists of many of the nations country radio stations, and even death threats to the musicians. The Dixie Chicks have paid a big, big price for exercising their First Amendment right of freedom of speech.
Several years ago, Rick Coates interviewed legendary Detroit rocker Ted Nugent for a Northern Express cover story. You may not agree with all of Nugents powerful convictions, but they deserve our respect. Whether Nugent is supporting hunters rights, promoting drug and alcohol-free lifestyles, or arguing against the tax-and-spend welfare state, everyone knows where he stands.
The political talk-show hosts and other media types who rant about how famous persons should just shut up and do their jobs are envious that the Dixie Chicks, Ted Nugent, and other celebs often have their opinions publicized. I say, Bill OReilly - you shut up. Don Imus, you put a lid on it. Northern Express columnists, you, most of all, should shut up once in awhile.
Who has more credibility on an issue such as illegal immigration or the Iraq War - Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken who get paid to express an opinion (usually predictable) during regular programming - or a celebrity who has nothing to gain and a lucrative career to lose if he or she alienates enough people?
Lets make one thing clear, though, no actor or musicians opinion should have any more or less influence over the direction of our country than yours or mine - and it doesnt. Only a person with a peabrain would have run out and demonstrated against the war in Viet Nam because that is what Jane Fonda did.
Those who say our troops and military operations are undercut by the dissent of famous Americans at home have got to be kidding. Do you really think soldiers are inclined to lay down their arms and give up because Susan Sarandon doesnt agree with the administrations policies in Iraq? Conversely, will our troops get fired up and do a better job in a battle zone if discovering that someone like Bruce Willis supports the Presidents strategy in the Middle East?
Three years later, the Dixie Chicks have not been forgiven by many Americans. Dont forget, they slammed Bush a couple of weeks before the invasion of Iraq when a solid majority of Americans supported Bushs policies. It doesnt take much backbone to criticize a beleaguered president with ratings in the gutter - instead, the Chicks criticism took on the majority view at the time when the idea of an Iraq War was popular.
It is because of their outspokenness that the Dixie Chicks and Ted Nugent are among the most patriotic of Americans. What we need are more Americans to stand up and speak their minds, not less. If more of us were passionate about issues that affect our country and respected the opinions of others - even celebrities - a majority of Americans might then care enough to at least vote on Election Day.