Waking Up In The

Great Recession Mormon Desert


by Sheryl Karas with Paul Hood

The Dixie Chicks and Country Western

“Hospitality” (Excerpt)


We couldn’t find anything interesting to watch on satellite TV the other day so we looked through Priscilla and Frank’s stash of DVDs and found a very interesting documentary called “Shut Up and Sing!” It was about what happened to the Dixie Chicks when lead singer Natalie Maines made an off-the-cuff comment against President Bush’s invasion of Iraq between songs while performing in London during the anti-war protests occurring there at the time. It was a simple statement: “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” It seems innocuous now, even prescient, but George Bush was close to the height of his popularity at the time and the backlash was extreme.


The Dixie Chicks are the most successful female performing group in country music history and, according to their website, the highest selling female group in any genre. They apologized immediately but a wartime Republican president cannot be spoken ill of by the “girls next door” when you’re part of the country music scene. Their apologies were not only thrown back in their faces, they were blacklisted from the country music airwaves from that time on. George Bush went on to be the least popular president in U.S. history but you still can’t hear their music on any radio station we receive in eastern Arizona.


I grew up just south of Boston and was in elementary school at the height of the Vietnam War. Massachusetts was a very liberal Democratic community in those days, still is, although after living in Santa Cruz it seems more conservative to me now. Everyone I knew was against the war. I remember watching M.A.S.H. on television and thinking that the Vietnam War protesters were the conscience of the nation. I never heard of the Dixie Chicks before the United States invaded Iraq but the whole nation knew who they were after the incident in London and the reason we knew chilled me to the bone. The United States had been attacked on 9-11 by a group of Saudi Arabian terrorists and retaliated by invading two sovereign nations, neither of which were Saudi Arabia. Somehow we wound up in Afghanistan—fool me once? But when we invaded Iraq we knew better than to trust this president, at least everyone I knew in Santa Cruz felt like that. The way the Dixie Chicks were treated shocked me. It was as if they had committed an act of treason, a betrayal that was beyond belief. What on earth was happening here?


Watching the movie brought it all back and then I remembered where we are now—in the middle of conservative Republican Red State America and country music is the only music around. Paul and I have had many discussions since then about this. He doesn’t want me to be prejudiced against the people we meet here. “We have to give this place a chance!”


But will they give us a chance? We already worry about what we say in our blogs. How honest can we be here? And how might it affect us?

© Copyright 2011 Sheryl Karas

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