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It’s not easy being a pop singer with a brain. Just ask the Dixie Chicks. Back in March, during the height of the Iraq war craze, the three seemingly innocuous country music singers took the stage in London and announced: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” Within days, after news of their inflammatory comments had penetrated slowly into redneck territory, they had become America’s most reviled figures since the American Taliban. Radio stations destroyed their albums. Enraged fans trashed their CD’s. And, surely, somewhere, Saddam Hussein was smiling, thanking these women for their support.
The Dixie Chicks had flaunted their treacherous, un-American ways by doing something wholly unpatriotic: criticizing a sitting president just before he launched an illegal, aggressive war. They could never be forgiven. Not after an emotional sit-down with Diane Sawyer. Not even after they appeared naked on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, to appeal to an even more visceral emotion than our patriotism.
After this act of treason, the Dixie Chicks, or perhaps more accurately called the “Ba’athist Chicks,” no longer deserved their former place in our society: that of the cheerfully brainless pop act that amused us with their shiny hair and their shinier outfits. The Chicks had a brain now, and they had an idea…called treason. Much like a TF who comes to the painful realization that one of his students is actually smarter than him, we Americans had to face the awful reality that our own vacuous, bubble-gum culture had actually produced a clue.
But before all of popular culture could manage to switch sides to the terrorist camp, Britney Spears, as she has had to do countless times in the past, came to the nation’s rescue. On August 28, she announced her return to the political arena with a loud kiss planted on Madonna’s lips at the MTV Music Awards that screamed, “I’m baaack!” Then, a week later, she declared to an eager public her thoughts on how to be more American, and less like those Chicks from Kandahar: “Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that.” Truly, here was a maxim that all red-blooded Americans, the heirs of Jefferson and Washington, could rally behind (as long as the rally didn’t annoy John Ashcroft).
But, instead of reinforcing patriotic appreciation of the Republican Party, many Americans were left confused by Spears’ mixed message. They loved her girl-on-girl kiss, but they also support their president in every decision that he makes, as per Britney’s dictum, including his decision to encourage a brigade of lawyers working patriotically to figure out a way to make gay marriage a crime. Had not the American people recently seen Britney dressed as a bride kissing another woman at a mock wedding? Was Britney Spears defying the president’s decision that gay marriage is evil? Does Britney Spears support al Qaeda?
Clearly, Baghdad Britney has two options, and they both involve magazine covers: pose nude and be forgiven, or end up like Uday and Qusay Hussein, smoked out of her Ba’ath loyalist safehouse in Tikrit.
—Erol N. Gulay is an editorial editor.
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