Hank Williams Jr. is defiantly dense.
During a show at the Iowa State Fair earlier this month, the country music legend said to a crowd of 8500, “We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the US and we hate him!”
It’s been nearly a year since his now infamous appearance on Fox News’ Fox and Friends in which he referred to President Obama as “Hitler,” both Obama and Vice President Biden as “the enemy,” and likened the two to “the Three Stooges.” The comments led to ESPN dropping his musical opener from Monday Night Football, but rather than learning to think before he speaks, Williams has instead opted to scream louder than ever.
Enter politically fallacious tracks like “Keep the Change,” in which Williams croons: "I'll keep my freedom / I'll keep my guns / I'll keep my money / and my religion too … I will keep my Christian name and you all can keep the change."
The irony of a hate monger worried about attacks on the Christianity he doesn’t practice particularly well. Nevertheless, Williams told Rolling Stone in July that he’s been rewarded handsomely for his Obama bashing.
The country crocks of America undoubtedly appreciate the pandering, but that doesn’t negate the hypocrisy of selective outrage.
While Hank Williams Jr. is making piles of money off being nonsensical, the Dixie Chicks were roasted years ago by country music fans after protesting President Bush's plans for war in Iraq. Lead singer Natalie Maines told London concertgoers that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
A rather harmless remark that led to the group’s songs being pulled from radio stations, cancelled tour dates, death threats and rampant cries of “unpatriotic” from conservative media.
Sexism was largely the root of their scolding, but race is equally as culpable.
In defense of Hank Williams Jr., Bill O’Reilly said, “He was trying to make an analogy, and [it's] always bad to use Nazis in analogies — you don't do this.” O’Reilly also noted in the telecast to Dennis Miller, “It is dumb to bring Hitler up. You're absolutely right. Can't do that in this PC society.”
Oh, so it’s political correctness that drives people mad about the president of the United States being compared to a murderous megalomaniac.
O’Reilly has a long history of comparing those that disagree with him as Nazis, but he also has a knack for rapper bashing whenever the mood suits him.
A year ago, O’Reilly’s head nearly imploded once he found out that rapper Common was extended an invitation by the Obama administration to White House for a poetry event. During an on-air debate with The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, he expressed that he was "shocked that you don't understand why people like me and millions of Americans are upset,” claiming Common supported "cop killers" and pronouncing that anyone who went to the White House should be "unimpeachable."
In response, Stewart noted that Common was speaking in support of those angry over unjust killings – which isn’t all that different from artists like Bono and Bob Dylan. A condescending O'Reilly quipped back, "Is this Perry Mason we're talking about?"
For the record, O’Reilly did take issue with Lupe Fiasco for calling President Obama a “terrorist,” but why so weak about an artist calling him a “Nazi?” And why can the likes of Sarah Palin and Tucker Carlson condemn Common but not Hank Williams Jr. (Palin referred to criticism of him as “disgusting”)?
A couple of factors come to mind, though one that annoyingly sticks out is the perception of country music and patriotism. So many write-ups about country music events reference the genre’s supposed great love of country and there are countless lists around the Web chronicling country music’s “greatest patriotic songs”. But if this is patriotism’s soundtrack, where are all these America-loving country artists and fans to call out the blatant disrespect leveled at this president?
Rap may not be perfect, but more times than not hip-hop’s instances of political dissent are credible, whereas rants from Hank Williams or “The Taliban Song” singing Toby Keith reek of stupidity. Yet, the narrative remains about country artists and their great love of country in certain circles – especially ones with larger outreaches (hey, FOX News).
Yes, these sorts of country singers are less informed and get away with being wrong because of White privilege and entitlement. No, I don’t expect much of that to change anytime soon. However, as much as much as we hear how other groups don’t love their country enough, it’d be nice if the White men who fashion themselves to be big lovers of America were told they’re fairly picky about when and where they do it.
It sure beats that other old song.