The Dixie Chicks are back in the news again, losing another concert--probably more fallout from their anti-Bush remarks. This is the sort of thing you can expect when you alienate your fan base, but ...
If a man acts from the courage of his convictions and takes the consequences, you must admire that--even if he is dead wrong. Right or wrong; courage is noble in itself, and not that common either.
Is that what we have here?
Taking the last point first, are they accepting the consequences as the natural price of their courage? Not exactly--it sounds more like whining that they were misunderstood. Unfortunately, the New York Times is not the only news source with a cheerful disregard for inconvenient facts that clutter up a juicy story, so I don't actually know for certain all that the Chicks have said on their own behalf. I could spend a couple hours and find out, but I think I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for the sake of the argument. A lot of the moans about 'censorship' were made on their behalf by other folks.
On the other hand, they very quickly decided on emergency measures to shore up their popularity: getting naked on the cover of a national magazine. I gather that the ephithets sprinkled over their bodies were meant to make this look like a political statement about freedom of speech, instead of the usual "Why can't they put their hands somewhere else?" attention-getter. (Exercise for the reader: "Demi Moore is famous for...?") They revealed their desperation as well as their hips, and the use of the epithets suggest that either they're politically tone-deaf or cynical. I vote for cynical.
Convictions is a strong word to use to describe most people's opinions. At least half the people I know, left and right, fell into their opinions instead of thinking their way into them. Since they usually hang out with like-minded sorts, they're never challenged, and never have to deliberately sort out the true from the uncertain. (How often have you heard that the Iraq campaign was designed to help the US oil interests, despite the rather obvious fact that it would hurt them instead? The slogan-shouters never thought through their ideas but merely accepted them on faith.)
Anybody with a little spare time can research an issue, think it through, and come up with their own judgements on it. With a little more time, they can find a sparring partner to argue the issue with, and sharpen up or even change their judgements. Everybody should--this is what makes a democracy work. But when I hear sloppy ideas, careless reasoning, and flat-out false claims I have to suspect that on this subject at least, the speaker has inherited his opinions and not actually judged the issue.
What I heard Natalie quoted as saying sounded like sloppy thinking.
Were they courageous? If they were from the east or west coast entertainment environments, I'd bet not. In those cultures it shows no courage to oppose war, or indeed anything a Republican might advocate; and from the whining about censorship I hear I suspect that the entertainment business types are so insulated from the rest of us that they have no notion that honest people can disagree with them. However, the Chicks are supposed to be more of a country group; and I don't know much about the Nashville political scene. Natalie issued apologies that I don't think would even be thinkable in Hollywood. So, I guess that their attitudes bucked the local trends.
The comments that got them in hot water were made overseas, at a foreign crowd. The comments sounded like Natalie getting the sense of a crowd; trying to please the crowd; saying what the crowd wanted to hear. They wanted applause, and got it. Not courageous.
It would hardly seem worth the effort to analyse their few remarks, if it weren't that there's still some stir about them. I tentatively conclude from the above list that the Dixie Chicks are not brave and admirable souls, standing up for the truth as they see it. Too bad. On the other hand, they get enough benefit of the doubt that I can't classify them among the usual fatuous Hollywood crowd.
And, although my daughters regard listening to any country music as a sign of a deep character flaw, I like Long Time Gone.