Here's a letter I wrote to the Arizona Republic after they published yet another article about the Dixie Chicks. The article described how the DC's show at a local arena failed to sell out, and how their career was suffering because of their traitorous comments about G.W. Bush. I was going to write a response pointing out that Bruce Springsteen played at the same arena in June, and also failed to sell out (in fact the place was half full at best), and that he too has been politically outspoken, yet nobody is burning his CDs or blaming sparse attendence at his shows on his activism. But that approach didn't seem like enough, so I wrote the following instead, and it was published as a "Letter to the Editor" on November 27th.
Years ago, I did a research paper on the Salem witch trials of 1692. There are many different opinions about how and why so many people were accused of witchcraft in early Puritan culture, but certain patterns stood out. Women were much more likely to be accused of witchcraft than men, and certain types of women were disproportionately singled out as witches. These were women who violated the norms of a society that expected them to be subservient and docile: women who freely expressed unpopular beliefs or opinions, who refused to obey the commands of their male counterparts, and who were financially independent of their husbands or other male relatives. In other words, the women most likely to be labeled, persecuted, and executed as witches tended to be those who represented a threat to the well-established, male-dominated political, social, and economic standards of the day.
So: why are the Dixie Chicks still being pilloried in the press (Arizona Republic, 11/18/06) over a comment one of them made three years ago, while male entertainers such as Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and (yes,really) Merle Haggard have all publicly criticized President Bush and the war in Iraq with no such consequences? And will you please explain to me why so many (male) right-wing pundits and bloggers get apoplectic at the mere thought of Barbara Streisand and Hillary Clinton? It can't be for their ideas and beliefs, because no male entertainers or politicians who express them draw that sort of blind rage. Apparently, old habits die hard, even in 21st-century America.