Just who are these women? They have been called traitors, activists, Saddam‘s Angels, purveyors of free speech, and the most popular country band in U.S. history.
Truthfully, I didn‘t know the Dixie Chicks from TLC or the Lennon Sisters before the firestorm that resulted from their criticism of President Bush. Their comments seemed to crystallize the backlash against entertainers who have publicly opposed the war against Iraq. Such outspoken notables as Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, and Sean Penn have also felt the wrath of Americans who favored toppling Saddam Hussein.
But when our troops invaded Iraq and the three All-American girls from Texas said that they were ashamed the president was from Texas (presumably because of the Iraq invasion), the outrage of pro-war America was near the explosiveness of a terrorist attack. Radio stations have refused to play Dixie Chicks music. Fans are trashing their CDs. Protestors chant anti-Chick slogans during their concerts. Overnight, the divas have experienced a breathless Landslide from maybe the most popular band in America to the most reviled individuals in this country.
That is precisely why I love the Dixie Chicks. Give me those CDs before you begin stomping on them. Where can I see the trio in concert? Goll dang it, maybe I am even becoming a country music fan. You see, whether you agree with them or not, the Dixie Chicks have an opinion and care about something that transcends their padded bank accounts.
To those who criticize entertainers for exercising their right of free speech, I ask you to consider the alternative - rich celebrities who live in their Hollywood mansions and view the concerns of regular folk with distain. Sarandon, Timothy Hutton and notable conservatives Arnold Swartznegger and Bruce Willis care about something other than making money and should be applauded. The reasoning of Sean Penn may be totally distorted but at least he gives a damn.
Give me my beautiful Dixie Chicks any day over someone like Michael Jordan whose only concern in life is Michael Jordan. When asked about topical issues in our inner cities, Jordan‘s pat response is, “They buy Nikes like everyone else.“ In other words, zillionaire Jordan would rather keep quiet than to risk millions in losses of endorsement deals.
Muhammad Ali, on the other hand, put his money when his big mouth was. By speaking out against the Vietnam War, Ali lost millions in fight revenue at the peak of his abilities. Had he joined the army, Ali would have undoubtedly spent any military tour far from the front lines and no one would have cared. Whether you agree with Ali‘s stand or not, you must respect him for having strong beliefs and not backing down when jail time and the loss of his boxing career seemed imminent.
There can be no better time or more important of a debate than before or during a war. Thousands of lives are at stake - most importantly, those of our own troops. Where did some Americans get this idea that opposing the president is off-limits? I criticized President Clinton‘s military operations in the Balkans, as did many of Clinton‘s political opponents. Yet, I didn‘t hear one voice complaining that opposition to Clinton‘s use of the U.S. military was un-American.
I agree with a notorious super-patriot named Theodore Roosevelt who said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.“
Can we agree that freedom of speech should always be encouraged? God bless America because it is our right to voice opposition to our government‘s policies or opinions of the Dixie Chicks. Even in time of war.