<i>Shut up and Sing</i>, and Transformation

is not only a story about the transformation of these three incredible women and musicians, but also a story of a nation in transformation.
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What a difference three years makes. What a difference an unjust war
makes.

In 2003, on the eve of war, Natalie Maines said the twelve words that
shook her world: "Just so you know, I'm embarrassed that the President
is from Texas." It's hard to imagine, in the wake of the Democratic takeover of Congress, the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld and rejection of the Bush agenda, that those twelve words could set off the firestorm they did.

Three years ago, the war machine was in full gear. Lies about Iraq
were being sold to the United Nations and the American people. The
cowboy mentality of "you are with us or against us" was coming from the
highest offices in the land. Speaking out was aligned with treason,
and artists, academics and everyday people - from bloggers to
librarians - found themselves caught in the crossfire.

Looking back across these three years, we can see the value of speaking
from your heart and standing up for what you believe. Just look at
Rush Limbaugh, who admitted after the Republican defeat that he felt
"liberated" for no longer having "to have to carry the water for people
who I don't think deserve having their water carried."

Compare that to Natalie Maines, the Dixie Chicks and their fans who
stood their ground and fought for what they truly believe over these
tumultuous years. Feeling liberated from your lies, Rush? How much
better it feels to live a genuinely liberated life.

Of course, while much has changed over the past three years, we're not
out of the water yet. Just two weeks ago, both NBC and the CW network
banned advertisements for Shut Up and Sing because, in the words of
NBC, they were "disparaging to the President." Considering that
policy, I was surprised to see the network didn't black out their
entire election coverage last Tuesday.

All joking aside, NBC's actions only fueled the fears that many of us
have that the rights we always took for granted are slipping away.

I've always considered Shut Up and Sing to be a story about
transformation, and now I think that's truer than ever before. It's
not only a story about the transformation of these three incredible
women and musicians, but also a story of a nation in transformation.
We have gone through so much over the past three years - from feeling
helpless and ignored in the rush to war, to feeling disdain and despair
for the polarized political climate, to now feeling like we might
finally be on the right track again.

But no matter who sets the agenda in Washington, real change will only
happen if it comes from the big mouths and stomping feet of everyday
people, artists, students, teachers, moms and dads. One thing we can
learn from the Dixie Chicks' experience is that when you speak from the
heart, people will have your back, and you'll have nothing to regret.

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