The Dixie Chicks have caused quite a stir in Lee Greenwood’s America.  To recap, for those who have taken E. Michael Jones’ advice and drop-kicked their television set out the front door: On March 10, during a concert in London, singer Natalie Maines said, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,” after which the crowd cheered.

Why would Miss Maines make such a statement, and why was it so well received by her London audience and throughout Europe?

Not a week before, at a White House press conference, ABC News’ Terry Moran had asked President Bush, “In the past several weeks, your policy on Iraq has generated opposition from the governments of France, Russia, China, Germany, Turkey, the Arab League and many other countries, opened a rift at NATO and at the U.N., and drawn millions of ordinary citizens around the world into the streets in anti-war protests.  May I ask, what went wrong that so many governments and people around the world now not only disagree with you very strongly, but see the U.S. under your leadership as an arrogant power?” 

According to the official website of the White House (, the President responded, “I think if you remember back prior to the resolution coming out of the United Nations last fall, I suspect you might have asked a question along those lines—how come you can’t get anybody to support your resolution.  If I remember correctly, there was a lot of doubt as to whether or not we were even going to get any votes, much—well, we’d get our own, of course.”

Through statements such as this, the President has alienated and angered key allies in “Old Europe” as well as the Arab nations who produced the September 11 mujahideen.  In so doing, he managed to be both cavalier and awkward, almost ticcing as he repeatedly blurted “1441,” a reference to the 1991 U.N. resolution demanding that Saddam divest himself of “nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.”  Such behavior could be considered to be embarrassing.

Nine days after Miss Maines made her statement, President Bush let slip the dogs of war, and the target of opportunity gave way to shock and awe as Operation Iraqi Freedom rolled through the desert.  By then, the U.S. media—the country-music industry, in particular—had pulled a Trent Lott on Maines and the Chicks, demanding that they never be heard from again.  Across the fruited plain, country stations lined up to protest the unpatriotic Chicks, hosting live events to which listeners could bring their Dixie Chicks CDs to be burned, and patriotic paragons Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly began to denounce Miss Maines ad nauseam.

Reacting to the swell of press coverage concerning their singer’s lighthearted comment, the Chicks issued a statement on March 12: “We’ve been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government’s position.  The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding.  While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost.”  Maines added, “I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world.  My comments were made in frustration and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view.”

The Dixie Chicks have been around since 1990, after sisters Martie and Emily Erwin, young bluegrass virtuosos, teamed up with singers Robin Macey and Laura Lynch.  In 1996, Macey and Lynch were replaced by Miss Maines, the daughter of pedal-steel legend Lloyd Maines, and the Chicks reconfigured their sound to be more country and less bluegrass.  Their latest record, Home, contains more bluegrass and includes the song “Travelling Soldier,” about a small-town boy dying in Vietnam after writing several letters to his high-school love back home, echoing Jimmie Rodgers’ “Soldier’s Sweetheart.”

Whatever you think of the Dixie Chicks (their music is too rock-’n’-roll, their dress is often immodest, they sometimes associate with leftist musicians of the Lilith Fair variety), one thing is clear: When Natalie Maines made her infamous statement, the Dixie Chicks were living up to their name.  Contrary to the war drums of the reconstructed country-music industry, our Connecticut-born President’s war of conquest in Iraq does not reflect the spirit of Texas, let alone the land where old times are not forgotten.

On March 14, Miss Maines, without compromising her convictions about the war, attempted to show deference to the Commander in Chief: “As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. . . . While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers’ lives are lost.  I love my country.  I am a proud American.” 

Save for statements of support from Travis Tritt and Bruce Springsteen, her apology was greeted in the press with more venom than her previous statements had generated.  Pop-country jingo Toby Keith, whose “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” has become the hee-haw anthem of pro-war country fans, began to show a split-screen on his concert jumbotron, featuring Miss Maines’ face next to Saddam Hussein’s.  At the climax of Keith’s Nuremberg rant, he declares, “We’ll put a boot in your a- – / It’s the American way.”  Now, wars of foreign aggression may have become the American way, but they sure ain’t Dixie’s.  Miss Maines later replied that Keith’s lyrics “make country music sound ignorant.”

The gentlemanly comments of Joe Soucheray, a columnist for Minnesota’s Pioneer Press, were typical of those that “patriotic” conservatives hurled at Miss Maines.  “I always fancied the chubby one,” he opined, making reference to her “plus-sized rhinestone studded cowboy boot” and saying, “Bless her blubbery little heart.”

The most telling comment, however, came from National Review Online’s Stanley Kurtz, who chose, of all things, to charge the Chicks with not being Dixie enough.  “No part of this nation has a better understanding of honor than the South.  Natalie Maines has impugned the honor of our president, and of our nation—and done so in front of strangers.”  (As I recall, the Yankees arrested President Jefferson Davis and forced Dixie to be part of their “nation,” à la the Soviets and East Berlin.)

“Doesn’t she understand,” Kurtz, the bold defender of the Southern way of life, continued, “that her remarks, although certainly political, have gone beyond politics to touch and harm something deeper [the limits of dissent?  John Ashcroft, are you there?].  I would like her to try to make things right.  But first she needs to understand what she’s done.  If Natalie Maines is really a chick from Dixie, she’ll do the right thing.”  Apparently, the “right thing” is to keep your mouth shut, unless you are part of the “coalition of the willing” and are ready to sacrifice American blood and treasure for dominion over palm and pine—or, in this case, dune and well.