I’m starting Part One of my book, ‘Stand or Fall’ in 2003 when Natalie Maines, the lead singer of The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) said this in 2003 onstage at a concert in London, England just weeks before the start of the war in Iraq: “We don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”
To say that the shit hit the fan with this quote is putting it mildly. The backlash was outrageous and frightening at the time. They got death threats, banned from country-music radio (a ban that still holds to this day), and lost endorsements. And all because they chose to speak out against a war that was being started on a pack of lies. I knew it then and so did a lot of other people but the powers-that-be, from the White House to the Pentagon to corporate America were all hell-bent and determined to start a war and make a shit-ton of money in the process. What happened instead was a shit-ton of money was made while thousands of American soldiers and hundred of thousands Iraqi’s died and the country of Iraq plunged into a bloody civil war which they still haven’t recovered from. The truth was canceled here, not the lies.
Getting back to the Chicks and me: Natalie Maines and I were born in the same year but in 2003 I wasn’t anywhere near as brilliant as she was, and still is. In 2003, I was exhausted, grieving over the death of my mother, and trying to go out on my own for the first time in my life. I had also been entrusted then by my father to take car of him in the event he couldn’t take care of himself. But despite my grieving exhaustion and shaky steps to independence, I was still pissed off as hell that a war was being sold to the American people under false pretenses.
I stayed quiet back then because I feared if I spoke out in any way hell would rain down on me like it did the Chicks. I was afraid my relationship with my father could be sabotaged and severed. I was afraid of being sent into permanent exile and alienated from every single person on the planet. I was afraid of sabotaging myself before I had a chance to get a foothold in the world. And looking back, I think the possibility existed because as long as I was silent and nice, people left me alone for most of the time.
Now I realize they didn’t give two shits about me and my life, and that I think my dad would have seen through any bullshit spouted against me like he and my mom had when they were both alive. Because in the years after this, he and I came to the agreement that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were abject failures. He said to me that the United States needed to stop acting the world’s policeman, something I honestly thought I’d never hear from him in my lifetime.
I know it sounds ridiculous to some that politics and ideology could be so divisive but since 2016 it’s proven to be true. But to me, it’s not about policy and procedure, but about ideas and beliefs. I’m against war and especially war-for-profit, which is all the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were. Over five-thousand US soldiers died in both wars and thousands more have wounds they will never fully-recover from. Both countries are wrecked beyond belief and no real recovery is on the horizon. And right now, Ukraine is fighting to survive and paying a terrible price. Luckily, people who have spoken out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such as myself, haven’t faced cancelation and backlash like the Chicks and others did in 2003.
I’m just one voice but it’s all I’ve got left. Because every time I feel a frisson of fear I tell myself I’m a grown-ass middle-aged woman with nothing left to lose. My mother has been dead for twenty years this year and my dad has been dead for eleven years so the two people in the world who I would go silent for are not here to be used against me. And as for being isolated and alone, that’s my life now. I have my work, my goals and dreams, and a dog and cat so I’m good.
In the end, what I realize is this: it doesn’t pay to be nice and like The Chicks later sang, I’m not ready to make nice either, I did that for way too many years and just have a shit-ton of scars to show for it. And any attempt to cancel me for the truth will be met by my calling out bullies for doing this. Because that’s all people who try to silence the truth are: bullies. And when you stand up to a bully and are prepared to take the hits, you’ll survive and thrive because you won’t live on hate and fear like they do. Bullies aren’t remembered well by history or the people they leave behind. Heroes and good people are remembered well and their love and light lives on.
The truth can’t be canceled no matter how hard anyone tries. It’s just taken me damn near twenty years to realize that. But better late than never.