- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

Has a political landslide brought the Dixie Chicks down? It appears so. The Dixie Chicks quickly discovered this after lead singer Natalie Maines made disparaging remarks about President Bush at a concert in London. On March 10, days before our troops went to war against Iraq, Miss Maines told cheering antiwar Londoners, "Just so you know, I am ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
What soon followed was one of the biggest backlashes in music history. The Dixie Chicks, one of country music's most successful groups, rapidly fell from grace and became the target of public outrage. The Dixie Chicks' latest single, "Travelin' Soldier," which was No. 1 on the country charts for four weeks, spiraled to No. 9 after Miss Maines' comments and then disappeared off the charts altogether by the second week. Their album, "Home," which was the No. 1 country album, soon fell to No. 2. Country radio stations across America were inundated with phone calls from listeners demanding that these stations no longer play Dixie Chicks music or else. Television news shows displayed fans stomping on Dixie Chicks CDs and dumping tickets to their concerts in the garbage. Sales for the Dixie Chicks CDs have lost an estimated $3 million, said Diane Sawyer, during her interview with Miss Maines, which aired Thursday on ABC's "Primetime."
Since her unpatriotic remarks, Miss Maines has issued several apologies, claiming that she had simply used the "wrong words to express her questions and confusion about the war." During the Sawyer interview, Miss Maines wept as she pleaded to America for forgiveness, attempting to salvage her reputation and career with fellow Chicks.
The harsh backlash against the Dixie Chicks is not surprising, considering the traditional values of country music and its fans. While Hollywood has not vilified such antiwar celebrities as Sean Penn, Sheryl Crow and Martin Sheen, those outside the Hollywood elite circle did. The Baseball Hall of Fame canceled a 15-year anniversary celebration for the movie "Bull Durham" because of antiwar comments made by one of the film's stars, actor Tim Robbins. The United Way of Tampa Bay canceled co-star Susan Sarandon ( Mr. Robbins' longtime companion) as the keynote speaker for a charity event.
Is country music the entertainment industry's last bastion for conservative values? It appears so. Since September 11, country music has risen to the occasion. Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?," a tribute to those lost in the tragedy, has sold millions of copies, as have patriotic hits by Toby Keith and Aaron Tippin. The recent hit "Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley, a rallying cry for war against Iraq, is currently No. 1 on the country singles chart.
All are reminders to Miss Maines that country music-makers and their listeners are proud of the president.



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