Natalie Maines: Dixie Chicks Singer Still Unforgiven by Zealots

Photo by Danny Clinch

Photo by Danny Clinch

Robert Earl Keen has a new album of bluegrass songs, “Happy Prisoner,” which features a duet with Natalie Maines on the 19th-century folk classic “Wayfaring Stranger.” The song premiered yesterday on The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog, where it generated a dozen comments, including one from “Terry O'” that read, “Good track, but I still cannot forget what Maines thinks of the USA.”

Maines, of course, is the Dixie Chicks singer who sparked considerable controversy in 2003 when she told a London concert audience that the country trio opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, adding that “we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Somehow “Terry O'” conflated criticism of George W. Bush with “what Maines thinks of the USA,” which is at once ridiculous, dismayingly common and wildly hypocritical.

If criticism of Bush in 2003 amounts to thinking poorly of the United States 11 years later, then what does the continuing flood of vitriol aimed at President Obama represent? The answer, sadly, is business as usual. Bush apparently deserved unwavering support for being president during a time of war, despite ginning up a false pretext for starting a conflict that has claimed nearly 4,500 American soldiers, and an untold number of Iraqis. Obama, on the other hand, has yet to receive the benefit of the doubt for pretty much anything from the likes of Terry O’ and his ilk. As far as they’re concerned, Obama is dismantling the Constitution as fast as he can so illegal immigrants can get free health care while terrorizing law-abiding citizens whose guns have been confiscated, or something along those lines.

It’s cognitive dissonance to a degree that would be laughable if it weren’t so absurdly stupid. Has civil discourse disintegrated to the point where respect for the office of president of the United States depends on the partisan affiliation of the person occupying it? Yes, apparently. Either way, forgiven or not by underinformed zealots, Maines sounds lovely duetting with Keen on “Wayfaring Stranger.” Maybe next they’ll try “I Ain’t Marching Anymore.”

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