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Volume 68, Issue 112, Monday, March 17, 2003

Opinion

Politics rule country radio

Rabecca Cross
Guest Columnist

Just so you know, Iim ashamed KILT and 93Q are from Texas.

These stations have recently refused to play any songs recorded by the Dixie Chicks. The reason? Itis what lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience last Monday: "Just so you know, weire ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

Thanks to technology, the news took only four days to trickle all the way back to cattle country.

Houstonis two biggest country radio stations immediately pounced on the information, broadcasting the quote on the air and urging callers to call in and "share your thoughts."

Within 24 hours, both stations announced an indefinite moratorium on Dixie Chicks songs. 

To those of you who listen to heavy metal, rock or easy listening, this news is bigger than it sounds. The usual artist play list for any half hour of broadcasting on either of these stations goes something like this: Toby Keith, Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith well, you get the picture.

Two things about this bother me. For one, radio stations are using this as an opportunity to spread their own political agendas. Two, and more importantly, I canit listen to that Chicksi recut of Stevie Nicksi "Landslide" or that mournful Vietnam War ballad "Travelini Soldier" when Iim driving in my car.

Now, let me make it clear that what Maines said was pretty dumb. I didnit vote for Bush, and I donit agree with a lot of his policies. But Iim not ashamed heis from Texas, and even if I were, I wouldnit announce it in public, especially after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and John Ashcroftis loose interpretation of the Constitutional right to due process.

But what the country music stations are saying is dumber. KILTis station manager recorded an announcement to listeners explaining why the Dixie Chicks werenit being played anymore and it said this: "At KILT, we are patriotic to the bone" and "we support our President."

I, too, consider myself patriotic, albeit perhaps not quite "to the bone." But patriotism and presidential support are two very different things, especially in the United States, where one of our most cherished rights is the right to protest against the government.

Patriotism doesnit mean blindly following our leaders. And supporting our troops doesnit mean advocating war efforts.

I heard a young woman call into one of the stations and tearfully explain that one of her 20 friends in the armed forces will probably be coming home in a body bag, and that she was never listening to the Dixie Chicks again. See the logical connection? Yeah, me neither.

Honey, itis precisely because Maines does <I>not<P> want your friends to come home in body bags that she made the statement. Your reasoning seems to be something like this: My friends are defending their country, and the Dixie Chicks are trying to halt President Bushis effort to push them into combat as soon as possible­darn those Chicks!

Like most country music listeners, I donit tune into KILT or 93Q for a discussion of current political events. That is what NPR is for.

I donit think the United States should go to war against Iraq unless and until the United States is behind the effort, but I donit want to think about it when Iim stuck at a stoplight, fighting Houston traffic on a late Friday afternoon.

Unfortunately, on Friday I didnit have a choice. When they werenit broadcasting viewersi reactions to the Chickis statement, the DJs were encouraging me to pull into the nearest fast food outlet and ask for a tall order of "freedom fries" instead of French fries.

And donit get me started on the music. What are they playing instead of the Chicks? Darryl Worleyis "Have You Forgotten?", which include the lines: "Some say this countryis just out looking for a fight/ And after 9-11 Iid have to say theyire right," and Toby Keithis "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," which states, "Youill be sorry that you messed with the US of A/ Weill put a boot in your ass, itis the American way."

A lot of callers commenting on Mainesi statement echoed one womanis sentiment: "I wish theyid just stick to singing their songs." Yeah, me too ­ well, most of their songs.

I wish the stations would just stick to playing them. 

Cross, a visiting UH law student, can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu.
 

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