Three years ago at the beginning of the Iraq war, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, told a concert crowd in London, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United Sates is from Texas." That statement set off a firestorm against the Chicks. Many Americans saw the quote as unpatriotic, especially in a time of war.
Subsequently, Miss Maines apologized for the tone of her remarks, but stands by her opposition to the Bush administration. Now the Dixie Chicks have a new CD which some stations will not play the lead single from, a song that says the Chicks aren't ready to back down from anything. It's a pretty good song. There is no reason not to play it. At a Time magazine event last night, I ran into Natalie Maines, who is not exactly my No. 1 fan. She chided me for predicting on this program that the new CD she has out would sell just two million units, which is pretty good these days. We had a discussion about it a few weeks ago. She saw the show.
Now, during the course of my conversation with her last night, I told her the primary mistake she made — and I was very polite about this, if you can believe it — was that she used a foreign venue to insult an American president. And that how she arrived at her conclusion about Mr. Bush is largely a mystery to this day.
I believe most Americans will accept dissent if it's based on logic and not delivered in a hateful way. Here's a good example. Al Sharpton comes on this program a lot. It's always a lively debate and often we have a few laughs. I'll submit Reverend Sharpton has won some respect for his appearances. You may not agree with him, but you have to admire his openness. It is those nasty personal attacks that Americans generally reject, calling President Bush a liar or a killer for the way he wages the war on terror is not only irresponsible, it's cheap.
It's perfectly fine to disagree with the Iraq war or any other public policy based on the merits of the policy. But ascribing sinister motives to people who serve this country without rock solid proof is unacceptable and un-American.
Natalie Maines has paid the price for her remarks. Her life has been threatened and she remains under siege. That is wrong as well. The woman has a right to believe what she wants to believe. You have a right to reject her beliefs and not to buy her stuff. But to punish her further is not in the spirit of America.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
The news continues to be very bad for America's newspaper industry. Most newspapers are falling in circulation, according to new data released by the audit bureau yesterday.
Now the Atlanta paper epitomizes what's going on. Today, it supported singing the national anthem in Spanish. That kind of stuff runs counter to what most Georgians believe. That's why the AJC is falling apart.
Bottom line: Only 20 percent of Americans describe themselves as liberals, and if a newspaper stakes out that territory in an extreme way, it will fail.
Ridiculous and predictable.
—You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel. Send your comments to: email@example.com
Bill O'Reilly currently serves as the host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The O'Reilly Factor (weekdays 8PM/ET), the most watched cable news show for the past 13 years. He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.