Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Class Warfare and Country Music

I know I said I don’t listen to country music anymore, not since I heard the Gretchen Wilson song, “Politically Uncorrect.” Check out the lyrics to the song, which I hope is the high-water mark of right-wing musical propaganda. The song reinforces the Republican self-image as the hard-working underdog and by extension the view of the Democrats as freeloading welfare hags and overeducated politically-correct atheist liberal flag-burners. This is nauseatingly absurd, because dated Republican economic ideology and policy are combining with the forces of globalization to create a more economically divided country, the haves and the have-nots, with decreasing economic mobility. Their policies are actually reinforcing the divide between the educated elite and the working-class poor, and the working-class poor are cheering.

Welfare welfare welfare government handouts handouts handouts. That’s the record that has been playing for thirty years. Economists have moved on. It’s time to move party ideology on.

But I digress. I didn’t actually replace the local country station on my car radio presets. I flip between channels when commercials come on, so sometimes I end up listening to the country station before my disgust cues me to change the channel. Which is how I happened to be listening to the country station morning show the week after Stephen Colbert bombed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Two nights previously, as a tribute, The Daily Show had featured a “Classic Colbert” bit in which Stephen Colbert attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Back at the country morning show, I was only half-listening to the banter, which ended in some joke about the Columbia School of Broadcasting, when the lesser DJ added, “No, the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.” That got my attention. It was a secret handshake, a code word which only Daily Show viewers understood. A small cry for solidarity in this crazy, mixed-up world.

So you see, I couldn’t get rid of my preset at that point. They needed me, those poor DJs who couldn’t get a job at a pop station. Which is completely understandable. I like the morning DJs at the pop station better, too.

All of which explains how I happened to be listening to the country station this afternoon when they played [drum roll, please] a Dixie Chicks song. An old one, “Ready to Run,” off their second album. All casual like, no fanfare, just an ordinary song credit, as if the world had never tilted into bizarro-land. They just slipped it in there, so as not to ruffle any feathers on people who aren’t paying attention.

I like my local country radio station. I may be just over the border in Jesusland, but they straddle the demilitarized zone. I can’t tell if they are circumspectly avoiding land mines on either side, or carefully packaging the true Voice of America as part of the resistance.

Just for the record, I have no idea how they treated The Incident. I was living in France at the time, occasionally listening to a country radio station from Texas over the Internet. Now that was truly bizarro.

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