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Independence Day & The Growing Tide of Anti-American Sentiment Among Rock Stars

By psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT

July is the month in which America celebrates its independence.  But in the midst of the celebration I hear a cacophonous choir poisoned by the cyanide of cynicism, and it seems to be coming from rock and pop artists.  If they’re not writing songs like Green Day’s American Idiot, they are taking cheap shots at news conferences or award ceremonies, or getting on their anti-American soap boxes in between songs at shows.   A few of us are fighting back:

It’s Pat Boone vs. the Dixie Chicks:

It’s yours truly, Dr. BLT vs. Neil Young (Al Barger singles review Dr. BLT vs. Neil Young)'s_impeach_the_president.htm

The Dixie Chicks are feeling the heat, and though their latest album, Taking the Long Way, made it all long way to #1 on the Billboard album charts, sales are a far cry from their prior release, and fans are dropping like flies as they brace themselves for a major downsizing of what they likely anticipated would be their grand tour.  But Green Day and The Dixie Chicks are not the only acts with axes to grind, as I’ve noted in this WFMU radio staple:

Merle Hasn’t Lost His Fightin’ Side
Words and music by Dr. BLT ©2006

In fact, it’s rare to come across a rock star who has anything good to say about the good old U.S.A.  The Dixie Chicks notwithstanding, most of the patriotic songs and statements seem to be coming from country artists and contemporary Christian artists. 

So, why am I such a big fan of rock ‘n roll?  Well, on this Independence Day, I admire the independence of rock stars.  They tend to have a lot of courage and are willing to take a stand.  But lately their supposed independence has taken on a sort of copy-cat conformity characteristic.  Many have turned independence into a cliché and have fallen victim to American-hating groupthink. 

Free speech is one of the great aspects of the United States.  It’s one of the things I proudly celebrate on this July 4th.  It’s something many have died to preserve, and many have lost limbs over----like Corbin Cherry, the co-writer of this song, a former White House Chaplain and war hero:

Red, White, Rhythm & Blues
Words and music by Dr. BLT & Corbin Cherry/produced by G. LaDuke ©2006

 Certainly everyone should have the right to speak his/her mind, in words and in music.  And I’m not trying to make a political  statement.  Jesus is neither Republican or Democrat.  Moreover, when you get to heaven, you will not be asked: Did you vote for John Kerry or George W. Bush.  You will be asked if you voted for Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.  He is above politics, though He has the power to reform it.  Those who put their trust in Him and receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior are one in Christ.  Politics divide.  The love of Jesus unites. 

There is room for disagreement about the war in Iraq.  There is room for disagreement when it comes to how folks feel about the current administration.  But there is no room for extremism.  Extremism, and breeds contempt, divisiveness, and ultimately hate.  Extremism is alive and well in rock music.  It is a myth that you cannot rock unless you flout the establishment simply for the sake of flouting it.  It is a myth that you cannot be patriotic and still put out powerful, relevant rock ‘n roll.  Jingoism is also a form of extremism, and I certainly don’t support blind obedience.  We must always question authority.  But there is one authority that is above all others, and that authority is sacred and sacrosanct.  It is the authority of God and the authority of His word.  That word of God is meant to bring us together for a common purpose of bringing glory to God.  We cannot bring glory to God while we are either worshipping the the flag, or burning it.   We cannot bring glory to God while we are either tearing down the nation that He has richly blessed, or by worshipping the ground we walk on, and not the creator who made it. 

On this great month that makes patriots so proud to be Americans, and makes American rock stars hang there heads in shame while simultaneously cursing this country, and biting the hand that feeds them, let’s hold our heads up high, salute the

Red, White and Blue
Words and music by Dr. BLT ©2001, 2006

And, as Neil Young  once said, “KEEP ON ROCKING IN THE FREE WORLD!”  But with freedom comes responsibility, and just because we can say anything in the free world of rock doesn’t mean we should say it.  Remember: “United we stand; divided we fall.”  When rock artists say things in the form of public statements or songs that deeply offend and deeply divide the nation, they are contributing to what will ultimately be our fall as a great nation.  Asking rock artists to be graceful may seem like asking a bull in a china shop not to shake, rattle and roll the china.  But I would say to that bull: “Shake it, don’t break it!”  I believe saying things without first thinking the impact one’s words may have upon the country is like rock ‘n’ roll without the roll.  The “rock” in rock in roll is the edge, delivered with passion and verve.  It’s like the gas peddle on a vehicle.  The “roll” in rock ‘n’ roll is like the brake peddle--- when used deftly, it keeps things smooth and stops things from getting out of control.  Rock artists: You are free to disagree, and this country is big enough for vast differences in beliefs and opinions, but please, disagree respectfully.  The Beatles caught a lot of heat when John Lennon made a statement that, fairly or unfairly, gave the impression he thought the Beatles were greater than Jesus Christ.   Though I greatly admire the Beatles, John should have chosen his words more carefully.  His words caused a great divide, even though, in one of the greatest Beatles songs ever, he said something I could actually picture Jesus saying to our nation at this time when the divide is seemingly becoming greater and more bitter with each passing day: “Come together, right now, over me. . .” 

Happy July 4th!  from Dr. BLT


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