I may have to eat a little crow here. If you saw the Academy of Country Music Awards on Wednesday then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t see it, then you missed the Dixie Chicks’ performance where Natalie Maines was sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with the acronym F.U.T.K. The F.U probably needs no translation. Presumably the T.K. was Toby Keith who has been seen as very pro-war with the success of his song, The Angry American. Keith himself says he is simply pro-troops. Nonetheless, he is certainly perceived as more than that by the public, and apparently by the Chicks. In fairness, Keith did previously say Maines had a big mouth and didn’t know when to keep it closed. Under the circumstances, the comment was pretty restrained, and apparently more on the mark than we were aware at the time.
I was among many who defended Maines’ earlier comments about being ashamed of Bush. Maines even said the venue for her comments was in poor taste, but stood behind the sentiment. I respected that. But I find it hard to respect her current choice of the shirt on an industry awards show. This was clearly a well planned statement, so there is no quarter to be had about a poor choice of venue. Futher, the sentiment was vulgar and an inappropriate use of her time on a show that wasn’t hers. She was a guest, but she didn’t act like one. She is free to make whatever statements she likes. I’ll never retreat from that position. But there is a significant difference between exploiting one of their own concerts or a press interview for expressing those ideas and hijacking an invited appearance where her personal opinions were clearly not expected, and probably not welcome. This was an abuse of celebrity status. Further, it showed no class whatsoever. It turned a political difference of opinion into a personal attack. Bad form.
I admit that I still like their music, but as people they have lost my respect. I only hope that Toby Keith has the class to just ignore them. They are doing more to discredit their own cause than anything he could say ever would.