Thursday, August 05, 2004

Just Plain Stupid

AP is reporting that Charlie Daniels, the man working hardest in show biz to turn "one-hit wonder" status into a lifetime career, is "drawing heat from Arab-Americans" over a song he's written.

The most important part of that sentence is, "AP is reporting." He's already won. He got his name back in the headlines. Normally, it might take something like a stint in rehab or a warrant signed by an estranged wife to do that. This is practically a free ride.

The song is called "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag." It begins:

"This ain't no rag, it's a flag and we don't wear it on our heads. It's a symbol of the land where the good guys live. Are you listening to what I said?"

The "rag-head" connection is impossible to miss. As a matter of fact, if you have been around Harley riders lately, we do wear it on our heads. The site I got this picture from lists this as one of their top sellers. He's obviously talking about something else there.

In fact, the song's been around for a while. It's just that Daniels is slated to play Saturday at a municipal-sponsored festival in Dearborn, Michigan, home to America's largest Arab-American community.

Daniels' explanation is fairly lame:

"It's not anti-Arab or anti-anything. The only thing it's `anti' is the people who bombed us on 9/11. I have people who say you're putting down people who wear turbans. I'm not. There are good Arabs and bad Arabs, good Greeks and bad Greeks, good people and bad people in any race. I'm not a racist person. I came up during the old Jim Crow days. I know what racism is."

Yes, of course, it would be nice if many groups like the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee were as vocal about radical preaching in mosques as they are about a 67-year-old country boy's third-rate tunesmithing.

But if more of us on "this side" of the current political debate stood up and called out people on stuff like this, maybe they wouldn't have to. Be proud of your country. Be stirred by the sight of your flag. Be angry at its enemies. But remember, that flag is what we all stand under, Arab-Americans included.

And Sikhs, and a variety of non-Arabs and non-Muslims from desert regions of the world whose traditional headgear involves wrapped cloth. Don't desecrate that flag by using it to throttle the first person who looks like what you imagine your enemy to be.