- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

“My lefty friends think I’m a Nazi, and my righty friends think I’m a hippie,” said country music star Toby Keith on Tuesday at the National Press Club, where he stopped to speak at a luncheon on his way to Afghanistan for his eighth USO tour to entertain U.S. troops.

Although he comes from a long line of Democrats and considers himself a “conservative Democrat,” Mr. Keith, who has sold more than 25 million albums, told the press club audience that he’s never been a “political guy.”

Political or not, ever since the 2002 release of the chest-thumpingly nationalistic post-Sept. 11 anthem “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” the Oklahoma native has become a “lightning rod of patriotism,” he acknowledged.

The Sooner crooner laments what he sees as a plague of political division infecting the nation. “The polarization that happens in this country is boiling to the point to where I feel like, living in middle America, it’s beginning to feel like a civil war,” he said. “There’s so much hate on both ends that it’s hard to get anything accomplished in this country.

“There are great Democrats and great Republicans and great independents that all get along and can argue and disagree and agree over issues, but those extreme ends seem to create all the noise, and they’re poison,” he observed.

“With the Internet the way it is today,” he continued, “with everybody … trying to compete for the headlines, trying to sell the headlines … it’s pushing us to where there’s so much hate on both sides that there’s no way we can continue to get along.

“If it continues like it does,” the alarmed singer warned, “there will be people who die in this country over their political beliefs.”

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