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Media Myths About the South

What Blacklash Against the Dixie Chicks?

by LEE BALLINGER

"NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Billboard) — Disappointing airplay for the first two singles from the new album by the Dixie Chicks exposes a deep — and seemingly growing — rift between the trio and the country radio market…"

–CNN.com, May 22, 2006

Country radio has been refusing to play the first two singles from the new Dixie Chicks album Taking the Long Way, supposedly because "country people" are still offended by Chicks’ singer Natalie Maines’ anti-Bush comments made in 2003. The new album, which defiantly takes pride in still attacking Bush, has come on the album charts today at number one, selling 526,000 copies. It is also number one on the country album charts, despite the attempted boycott by country radio.

The supposed justification for this "backlash" against the Dixie Chicks is a myth now just as it was in 2003. What actually happened then when the media was filled with stories about a backlash, with allegations that all country fans and especially Southerners are rightwing rednecks, when country stars such as Toby Keith were attacking the Chicks every day?

The Chicks began their nationwide 2003 tour just six weeks after the invasion of Iraq. The first show was in Greenville, South Carolina. At this and every subsequent stop–the first several in the heart of the South–they showed a video montage of Malcolm X, the civil rights movement, Gandhi, and the struggle for women’s rights. In Greenville, South Carolina, and every subsequent stop, they were greeted with massive cheering at each show. At some shows there were, at most, a dozen protestors outside.

The backlash should be against country radio, the corporate sponsors who dumped the Chicks, and the entire mythical red state/blue state nonsense. America wants peace. Country fans want peace. The South wants peace. Everyone wants artists to be able to speak out for our interests.

How can we build on these realities to get the world we want, need, and deserve? The "long way home" leads right through the heartland of the very people the media tries to make us fear. Let’s go!

LEE BALLINGER is coeditor of one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, Rock and Rap Confidential, where this article originally appeared. He can be reached at: Rockrap@aol.com

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