(feat. Toby Keith)
I consider myself a patriot the same as most Americans. By that I mean I salute the flag, celebrate holidays and generally promote and support our ‘America! Eff yeah!’ mentality. Again, if you didn’t catch that it went, ‘America! Eff yeah!’
As a red-blooded, God-fearing patriot I feel like it’s my duty to support people who support America. And it’s at this point I find myself wondering how to feel about Toby Keith.
I happen to like Toby Keith’s music; ‘Made In America’, ‘Shoulda Been a Cowboy’ and ‘God Love Her’ are all excellent pieces of musicianship if you like country music. He’s a multi-platinum, highly-decorated artist that people across the country enjoy listening to, or at least pretend to when they’re feeling avidly patriotic.
On the other side of that, Toby Keith is about as hard-line political as anyone not paid to work in politics. I believe it’s now against the law in this country to celebrate Fourth of July without a Toby Keith concert somewhere, replete with shout-outs to every troop whose defense of our country allows us all to lead simple, selfish lives. I’m pretty fine with this too; regardless of how any sane person feels about the military policies our country has adopted over the last decade, it’s safe to say we all want the best for our troops. I know plenty of people that have or are currently serving the country; I’m extremely honored that I get to make the acquaintance of those fine folks and I feel like I don’t deserve the sacrifice they make on a daily basis.
And now, having said all that I ask: wouldn’t we rather have someone a little more articulate than Toby Freakin’ Keith out there as our biggest ‘America! Eff yeah!’ spokesperson?
I feel like it’s hard to take a movement seriously when its most high-profile ambassador is just a big ol’ redneck boy from Oklahoma. Splashing Toby Keith on network TV is an awesome way to make everyone think we’re silly, including people from other countries.
Say you’re watching the Al-Jazeera, the Middle East’s answer to CNN. If you don’t understand what’s being said, you’re left to make your judgments based on the appearance of the person saying it. Subconsciously or no, it’s human nature to make sweeping judgments of a group of people based on one person; maybe it’s not something we like to admit, but it’s still true. So if you see an Arab person dressed like Osama bin Laden, you’ll probably immediately align him with terrorist principles even if he’s just reading the weather.
On the flipside, an Iraqi is going to see Toby Keith and assume that on some level every American wears an American flag do-rag under a cowboy hat and basically shoves America at everyone and if they don’t like it, “KISS MY ASS, WE’RE COMIN’ TO GIT YA!”
Most Americans don’t care what other countries think of us, and I have to assume the feeling is mutual. They think we’re big dumb hicks, we view them as grungy chain-smokers, TERRORISTS or both. Both sides are wrong. But as long as we keep allowing Toby Keith to be a spokesperson and as long as Al-Jazeera gives terrorists prime television coverage, we’ll all continue to display some level of ignorance.