Yesterday I wrote about my twenty-eighth trip around the sun and how totally shitty that year was for me. Another shitty aspect of that year was how silent I was about what was going on in the world at the time. I wasn’t silent just because I was shell-shocked with grief, but because I was scared shitless to say anything that challenged the narrative being shoved down the throats of everyone in America courtesy of the Bush administration and their insane determination to invade Iraq under false pretenses. Every day they pushed for that invasion evidence came forth to show they were peddling lies. But those bastards had one big billy club in their weapons arsenal- the power of conservative media to rise up and cancel the shit out of anyone who spoke against their lies and bullshit. Yes, conservatives invented the ’cancel culture’ they scream so loudly about now.
The first public victims of cancel culture were the group now known as The Chicks (back then they were still called The Dixie Chicks). In April 2003, on tour in England lead singer Natalie Maines said she was ashamed to be from Texas, the same state President George Bush was from. Well, you would have thought she was calling for the White House to be nuked or something by the way the media firestorm exploded. Within weeks, The Chicks canceled the rest of their tour, they were banned from country-music radio, and vilified as demon witches from Hell. And all because they challenged the lies peddled by the Bush administration trying to start a war they had no business even thinking about in the first place. Back then, if you questioned anything the Bush administration did you were labeled ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘against America’ because after 9/11, the Bush administration and conservative media used 9/11 to silence criticism of their drive to go to war only to benefit government contractors and oil companies.
But voicing any criticism of the Bush administration and the drive to war in Iraq outside of a group of like-minded people would have people screaming for your head. For me back then, I was terrified if I spoke out like that it would be used against me to drive me away from my father. I was afraid people would try to turn him against me because although he wasn’t a true conservative, he did believe that the United States had the right to be the world’s policeman, something he later said to me was dead-nut wrong (and yes, I was shocked as hell by that statement because all my life I’d heard him go, ‘My country right or wrong.’). Whether or not anyone would have used my political beliefs to turn him against me and drive me out of his life didn’t matter because it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.
Fifteen years later, things began to change for women in the spotlight as a clip of singer Taylor Swift has surfaced of her in 2018 sending out a tweet criticizing Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for her homophobic bullshit. In the clip, Taylor is damn near terrified by what she’s about to do because she’s old enough to remember what happened to The Chicks. But Taylor sent that tweet, and she wasn’t ‘canceled’ like The Chicks were (probably because the lead monster against The Chicks, radio broadcaster from Hell Rush Limbaugh, is dead and hopefully burning in Hell for all the hate he spewed). And The Chicks recovered their career and are on a sold-out world tour as is Taylor Swift.
Yes, a part of me looks back at myself and thinks how I would’ve love to have burned it all down and told a lot of people to fuck off in the process. But I don’t completely regret my silence back then because it was because of a decision I made, a promise I made to my mother as she was dying. I promised her I would take care of my father after she died and a promise to a dying person is a huge one, but one I made with all my heart and soul and with no regrets. But my mother has been dead for twenty years and my dad has been dead for eleven years. And if they do have a problem with what I’m saying or doing with my life, they know how to bridge the divide so to speak (and they’ve done it before, but that’s a story for another time and place).
I’m not a scared, grief-stricken, shell-shocked twenty-eight-year-old kid like I was back then. As I finish my forty-eighth trip around the sun, I know I’m a tired, hurting, pissed off, middle-aged bitch who is not afraid of saying ‘fuck off’ or even burning what’s left of my life to the ground. To be honest, I don’t have much left other than my voice here. I live very simply and very contently on my own, but I know I live with the courage of my convictions. To me, conservative ideology and those who believe in it don’t have that conviction because conservative ideology runs on fear: weaponized fear that is turned into anger and hatred against others, and fear to keep those who do see through the lies and bullshit in line.
The real villains in this world aren’t feminists, minorities, gays and lesbians, transgendered people, drag queens, or radical activists. The real villains are neo-Nazis, greedy bastards who will bleed this world dry just to line their pockets, and anyone who lives their life without conscience or empathy. Those are the people I will speak out against without any fear now.
Because like The Chicks sing, I’m not ready to make nice.