Rarely can anyone have a discussion that involves Muslims without a little bashing even when it has to do with boot stomping, dressing flaying Country music. Is Country music more patriotic, or does it intentionally fan the flames of Muslim-bashing?
By Ray Hanania
What do country music, Ted Cruz, terrorists and Muslims have in common? This week they were all a part of a ridiculous debate that dominated the announcement of a Republican presidential candidate.
Last week U.S. Sen. Cruz made some innocuous comments that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had turned him away from rock music to fall in love with country music.
CBS Network anchor
had asked a simple, softball question that I am sure she never thought would explode into controversy.
“Who is Ted Cruz?” King, the CBS cohost with Charlie Rose, asked. “What kind of music do you listen to? What are you watching on TV? What do you do for fun?”
Cruz replied that he enjoys “House of Cards,” the Netflix series about a politician who doesn’t mind killing people to get what he wants or throwing a reporter in front of a CTA train when she asks too many questions about the killings.
But it was this comment that lit the media fuse and dragged out all kinds of ugly stereotypes about Muslims into a media boot-slapping melody:
“I grew up listening to classic rock. But I will tell you an odd story. My music changed on 9/11,” Cruz told King. “On 9/11, I didn’t like how rock music responded. And country music collectively, the way they responded, resonated with me. It was a gut level. I had an emotional reaction that these are my people.”
How rock music “responded?” Like rock music is supposed to fight a war or, you might deduce from Cruz comments, rock music wasn’t tough enough on the “terrorists,” who, according to Cruz and others, are all “Muslim.”
Appearing later on MSNBC, Ebony Magazine Editor Jamilah Lemieux was asked what she made of Cruz’s comments, and she immediately turned toward humor when host Ari Melber lobbed the softball, “Jamilah, what’s he talking about?”
Lemieux responded with laughter, saying, “Nothing says ‘let’s go kill some Muslims’ like country music.”
Of course, killing Muslims in the Middle East and Afghanistan may be one thing, but making jokes about it? How rude.
Melber apologized for the comment after the break, but not about killing Muslims.
“We have a programming note,” Melber began. “A few minutes ago on this show, a guest made a comment about country music, and that comment was not appropriate, and we want to be clear: This network does not condone it.”
Maybe he might have said that making light of “killing Muslims” isn’t a good thing, either.
But it’s live TV and ratings are important.
No amount of humor, or lack of humor, goes unpunished in the polarized world that we live in after the 9/11 terrorism. The FOX network was quick to jump into the saddle to defend country music in the Muslim killing fray, bashing Lemieux and interviewing a real, live, dag-gannit country music superstar, Craig Morgan. (Who?)
Morgan, a former Army Ranger, wrote the country music song “That’s What I Love about Sunday,” and FOX and friends played these lyrics as a prelude to the interview.
“That’s what I love about Sunday/ Sing along as the choir sways/ Every verse of Amazin’ Grace/ An’ then we shake the preacher’s hand/ Go home, into your blue jeans/ Have some chicken an’ some baked beans/ Pick a backyard football team/ Not do much of anything/ That’s what I love about Sunday.”
I don’t need to hum the melody because most country music songs are all the same. But this one was important because, as you know, Christians pray on Sunday, and Muslims pray on Friday. Thank God the debate didn’t get into Saturday and gefilte fish.
Morgan called Lemieux “rude” and “ignorant,” and then said, “Country music is the most listened to genre. That’s the reality.”
The blond-haired FOX News anchor (aren’t they all blond?) declares this is another example of “the left hating on pop culture if it doesn’t agree with them, for example with ‘American Sniper’ they tried to paint conservatives as being warmongers and blood thirsty. Is this more of the same?”
I heard the softball swoosh through the air, and Morgan responded with his best Mom, apple pie and baseball swing: “They were trying to use country music, a format of music that is probably THE most patriotic genre of music. There is more patriotism in our music than in any other format. … Country music is the most patriotic format of music.”
And the blond FOX anchor’s male host lobs Morgan to give him more lyrics, “So let’s just prove to everyone that not every Country song is anti-Muslim.”
To which Morgan replies, “When you’ve been where I’ve been, any kind of life is paradise.”
Muslim bashing? They’ll write songs about it.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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