In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, country superstar Toby Keith released “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).” Some embraced the song as the perfect rallying cry for an angry and traumatized nation. Others felt it was a crude, hateful, jingoistic anthem about putting your boot in someone’s ass. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks fell squarely in the latter camp, and denounced the hit tune in interviews. Months later, when the Dixie Chicks were blacklisted from the country music community following their onstage criticism of President Bush and the invasion of Iraq, Keith was quick to peg the band as unpatriotic traitors. Though they eventually buried the hatchet with Keith, the Dixie Chicks remain exiled from the country scene and their once-thriving career has never recovered. Their feud gets to the complicated truth of what happens when an artist publicly takes a political stance.
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