Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

10 years later, Dixie Chicks right all along

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: 10 years ago, Dixie Chicks' comments on Iraq war drew denunciations
  • He says history vindicated them. Many decry Iraq war; weapons of mass destruction not found
  • He says many still denounce them, as though they were responsible for war mistake

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- Two days past 18

He was waiting for the bus in his Army green ...

Those are the first two lines from one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard, "Traveling Soldier." If you don't know it, I encourage you to look it up -- unless you're one of those folks who still hates the group that made the song popular, in which case, its beauty might be lost on you.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

It was 10 years ago this week -- as the country was barreling toward war with Iraq -- that Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, stood in front of a packed house in London and said:

"Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Actress Emma Watson, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, joins U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the launch of the HeForShe campaign Saturday, September 20, at the United Nations. Watson's speech on gender equality has gone viral. Here are some other celebrities' forays into international diplomacy: Actress Emma Watson, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, joins U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the launch of the HeForShe campaign Saturday, September 20, at the United Nations. Watson's speech on gender equality has gone viral. Here are some other celebrities' forays into international diplomacy:
Celebrities and diplomacy
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
>
>>
Photos: Celebrities\' forays into diplomacy Photos: Celebrities' forays into diplomacy

It didn't matter that the evidence to invade Iraq was questionable or that Maines later apologized. The damage was done, and one of the most popular acts in the country became its most hated. Its music was banned from radio, CDs were trashed by bulldozers, and one band member's home was vandalized. Maines introduced "Soldier" with a call for peace, but she would soon find that the group needed metal detectors installed at entrances to shows on its stateside tour because of death threats.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



It was a classic case of freedom of speech meeting the irrational repercussions of that speech. "Soldier" is not only their last No. 1, it's still their last single to chart in the top 30. Officially, they've been on hiatus since 2006, but Maines, who is planning on releasing a solo CD in May, recently said, "I just don't feel like it's the Dixie Chicks' time."

For anyone who appreciates great music, this admission should be vexing. Prior to Maines' 2003 comments, the group's previous two CDs had sold at least 10 million copies each, and they were singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. In two years, they had won eight Academy of Country Music Awards, including the male-dominated Entertainer of the Year category in 2000. But they didn't reach that level of popularity because of sexy outfits and Auto-Tuned vocals. They are immensely talented.

If anything, Maines and company should be viewed as prophets, not pariahs, considering that the weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration led the country to believe Saddam Hussein was housing were never found. Or that since 2006, the majority of Americans have felt the invasion was a mistake to begin with.

And yet, despite all that we now know, the Chicks remain ostracized in the world they came from, as if they were the ones who presented false information to the United Nations Security Council; as if they waged a war Tony Blair's right-hand man now says "cannot be justified"; as if the misguided attack were their fault.

Before the group was set to do an interview with Diane Sawyer in late April 2003 -- with hopes of stopping the public relations bleeding -- they questioned why they needed to grovel and beg for Bush's forgiveness. In a scene from the 2006 documentary "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing," their own PR rep explains, "he's got sky-high approval. The war couldn't be going better. By the time this interview airs ... the looting will be done; the rebuilding of Iraq will be started. ... Two weeks from now, it's going to be even a more positive situation."

Soon after, Bush delivered a victory speech on the deck of an aircraft carrier, underneath a banner that read "Mission Accomplished." The war wasn't declared over until eight years later.

And somehow, folks remain mad at the Chicks.

Last week, in marking the 10-year anniversary of Maines' comments, Country Music Television asked fans whether the Chicks should be forgiven, and more than a third of responders said "no."

Which probably explains why their next performances are in Canada.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2207 GMT (0607 HKT)
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0336 GMT (1136 HKT)
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0221 GMT (1021 HKT)
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT)
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2250 GMT (0650 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT