Crocodile Tears for the Dixie Chicks

First it was 60 Minutes two weeks back. Today NPR’s All Things Considered has made the Dixie Chicks out to be martyrs because of lead singer Natalie Maines’s comment on a London stage in 2003, just before the Iraq war, that she was ashamed of being from George Bush’s Texas. I’m not buying.

It is an important part of the job description that martyrs suffer. The Dixie Chicks’ music may have been tossed off country music stations and their last album’s sales have plateaued as a result, but big deal. The Chicks are trying to cross over to a mainstream rock audience anyway; and they seem to have achieved that. Lately they were named to the Time 100, a list of the most influential. And now the Chicks’ new album, which is slightly political, is getting loving portraits from major media. Slightly political. The Chicks aren’t Paul Robeson, they’re not Pete Seeger either. I’m sorry, I just don’t see the bravery. The Times says that Maines moved from Texas after a death threat, to Los Angeles. Yes; that’s bad. I sure wouldn’t want a death threat. Is it the reason she left Texas?

A crisis like the one this country is in requires people to stick their necks out and even—golly— make sacrifices. Many have done so. The Dixie Chicks did so, in a mild way. Great. Do I have to go crazy over them? Some of this press feels like smug blue staters giving it to the ignorant red staters. What else is new?