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The Dixie Chicks Do Global Politics

What happens when a country music trio speaks up about U.S. politics?

December 15, 2003

What happens when a country music trio speaks up about U.S. politics?

On the eve of the Iraq war, France and Germany found themselves linked with a most-unusual ally — a country music trio from Texas called the Dixie Chicks. Not since John Lennon’s comment that the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus" has one group encountered so much controversy. In our Read My Lips feature, we present the Chicks’ — Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire — views.

What was the comment that caused all the controversy?

"Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

(Natalie Maines, March 2003)

Where did this controversy begin?

"That was at a concert in London in March, on the eve of the Iraq war — it seemed silly for us not to comment. The audience was ecstatic."

(Martie Maguire, September 2003)

Do you still feel the same?

"It was the wrong wording with genuine emotion and questions and concern behind it. Am I sorry that I asked questions and that I just don't follow? No."

(Ms. Maines, April 2003)

Judging by the crowd reaction, do you feel more at home in Europe now?

"No, we do not want to escape the United States. Our concerts there were fantastic, our fans supported us. But it is strange that the atmosphere as it relates to the Iraq war is completely different here in Europe than in the United States. Perhaps the people over here are more critical."

(Ms. Maguire, September 2003)

Did you feel that President Bush was taking other viewpoints into consideration?

"I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the United States — and alienating the rest of the world."

(Ms. Maines, March 2003)

What were your major concerns before the war in Iraq?

"While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq — and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."

(Ms. Maines, March 2003)

What compelled you to make the statement about President Bush at first?

"Frustration. At that moment, on the eve of war, I had a lot of questions that I felt were unanswered."

(Ms. Maines, April 2003)

Out of all the other celebrities that spoke out against the war, why were you singled out?

"Country music is still very, very conservative in the United States. With rock musicians or actors, the public apparently expects that they are more liberal than others. People couldn't believe that we voiced our opinion. But why wouldn't we have an opinion on such an important subject?"

(Ms. Maguire, September 2003)

Have you alienated yourselves from the country music genre?

"Yes, I think we don't feel we are part of the country scene anymore — it can't be our home anymore."

(Ms. Maguire, September 2003)

What was particularly upsetting about the backlash against your band?

"I feel it's very un-American that some radio stations banned our music from their programming. The United States is a country where freedom of speech is highly regarded, we thought — but the atmosphere was so heated that radio stations didn't care."

(Ms. Maguire, September 2003)

How did you cope with all the pressure?

"We are pretty tough and we have each other and we stand by each other through thick and thin."

(Emily Robison, April 2003)

How do you respond to those that say you disgraced Texas — and the United States?

"How can they tell us we are un-patriotic just because we don't want to send our soldiers into the bloodbath of a war? I love Texas, I love the United States. But the best thing you can do for your country is not to blindly follow your leaders.

(Ms. Maguire, September 2003)

What about those who say that you don't support the troops?

"When our soldiers were in Iraq, we supported them. We are a hundred percent behind them. But that is something else. Nevertheless I can be of the opinion that the government did not look at all the options for a peaceful solution."

(Ms. Maguire, September 2003)