Columnist reels at Dixie Chick response

Ned Cantwell: State Columnist

Welcome, graduates, to final commencement ceremonies for Column Writing — A Noble If Not Rewarding Profession.

Our comprehensive two-hour course covered important territory. We thank guest lecturer and former congressman Randy “Duke”
Cunningham for his insightful thoughts on “When is it proper to take payola? Let’s talk numbers.”

It was kind of columnist Ann Coulter to share her latest essay, “Yes, I am a despicable witch, but a rich despicable witch.”

Some seminar leaders were a little disconcerted to observe the feverish note taking during “Fact checking is like a good steak — you don’t want to overdo it.”

As we leave one another this afternoon to spread truth throughout the land, I want to implant this final idea: When you are looking for column fodder, stay away from the Dixie Chicks.

Let me tell you from personal experience that you can’t come out ahead with the Dixie Chicks even if you aced the lesson, “Walking both sides of the fence; how to trick readers into believing maybe you think the Chicks were wrong to criticize the president.”

The Texas girls, a.k.a. Dixie Chicks, enraged their fan base when they said, while appearing in London, they were ashamed President Bush was from Texas. Then they said they were sorry. Then they said they weren’t sorry. Then they said …

This column took the position that the Dixie Chicks had a right to their opinion and that one should separate the merits of their musical contribution from the perceived heresy of their personal politics, even when expressed in a foreign land. Wrooonnnggg!

Anyway, poor girls, they got boycotted by the deejays who play country music. But as Ruidoso reader Chay Rennick said in a letter to the editor, their latest album “Taking the Long Way” hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. An e-mail forward from the address of Ed and Carolyn Dittmer affirmed the Chicks are atop Billboard for the third time in their careers.

The Chicks didn’t get there with the help of two Farmington readers. Linda Hooper e-mails, “Just wanted to let you know that if the station I am listening to plays a Dixie Chick song I will switch stations or turn my radio off. Everybody makes mistakes but they won’t let it die. They should keep their mouths SHUT …”

Judy Miller echoes those sentiments. She remembers how much Farmington enjoyed the Dixie Chicks when they entertained at Freedom Days 20 years ago. Back in those days, Judy writes, they “were wholesome and good entertainment for the times.” But, she adds, “I cannot and do not respect the way they have chosen to disrespect the country …”

Give me Toby Keith any old day, writes Aurdrey Kittrell of Clovis.

Not all the e-mail was anti-Chick. Gene Nash of Deming had harsh words for what he terms “Republican idiots” and says the “assault on the Dixie Chicks was sickening.” Gene says he never really liked their music that well, but bought the latest CD to prove a point. So, there.
Hugh Izek agrees, only in harsher terms.

So, fellow columnists, you must listen to music not for its pure enjoyment; you must try to understand the politics of the singer and, perhaps most important, the underlying message of the song.

As for me, I am still trying to figure out why Billie Jo McCallister jumped off the Tallahatchee Bridge.

Ned Cantwell just heard “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” He gets it. Contact him at: